Skip to main content

Oregon State Flag An official website of the State of Oregon »

Health and Transportation: Making the Connection

The Oregon Department of Transportation and the Oregon Health Authority’s Public Health Division work collaboratively to identify, develop and promote connections between public health and transportation, and to find shared goals and ways to support one another. Through the use of collaboration on plans, projects, research, and data, ODOT and OHA are working together to improve decision making and find opportunities to improve customer service. 

Both agencies also work with others to support shared goals. For example, housing, affordability, access to employment and services, and good health for people and communities are goals of all Oregon agencies and the health, land use, transportation, energy, environment, and other agencies can find ways to work together to support these goals. There are more efforts to build shared workgroups and find ways to align efforts to further these goals. The video below provides a good summary of the ODOT-OHA partnership even though it is a few years old.

Transportation and Health

At a basic level, transportation provides movement to access opportunities from employment to housing to medical services to parks and recreation, in some cases, transportation such as walking and cycling provide healthy activities in themselves. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Institute of Medicine, and other leading health organizations have reviewed a large body of evidence related to transportation behavior and health outcomes and concluded that specific policies and investment strategies can indeed have measurable impacts on health. By getting more Oregonians walking, biking, and using transit,

we can:

  • Cut air pollution that contributes to respiratory and heart illnesses.
  • Reduce the number of fatalities and serious injuries from crashes.
  • Increase physical activity to reduce rates of diabetes, cancer and other chronic diseases.
  • Reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Alleviate the cost of transportation and health care on Oregon families.

Health and transportation also have a shared interest in serving vulnerable populations such as the elderly and persons with disabilities. Sidewalks that meet Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and quality transit and paratransit services are critical to these populations to maintain quality of life and ensure access to medical services, shopping, work and social engagement.

Planning for Transportation and Public Health

ODOT’s Planning Section coordinates the partnership with OHA; and the Public Health Division coordinates the partnership from OHA’s side. OHA puts together a State Health Improvement Plan regularly that ODOT participates in, and ODOT develops statewide transportation plans that OHA participates in and helps advise. These plans are developed with the public and other partners and guide the agencies’ investment decisions. Both agencies participate in the statewide plans and rules of other agencies that affect shared goals. Particular state agency partners are the land use agency, the Department of Land Conservation and Development (DLCD), and the housing agency, the Oregon Housing and Community Services Department (OHCS). 

Local partners are important to the implementation of statewide plans. Their decisions respond to and help realize the goals and strategies of state plans. There are local health agencies, usually with counties and related agencies such as those for aging, and there are local housing agencies. Cities and counties do land use planning, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) do regional transportation planning. These agency’s plans and activities make local decisions and set frameworks for investment at the local level. To get involved, check with your city, county, or MPO for their regular planning processes and watch for the next state agency planning efforts. 


EmailLucia Ramirez
ODOT Transportation Planning

EmailMichael Rock
Policy, Planning and Development Manager