A recently-released study used the Verona Road project to show how some neighborhood concerns are often ignored in plans for major road projects.
Researchers visited the Allied-Dunn’s Marsh neighborhood between 2010-2013 which was during the planning process for the project. They found that while designers adjusted plans to address concerns about access to businesses, removal of a park and added bike crossings and a pedestrian bridge, concerns about issues like noise and air pollution were not addressed.
The author of the study, Carolyn McAndrews, said when neighbors' concerns conflicted with transportation goals for the project, the neighbors’ concerns were dismissed.
According to McAndrews, the hazards surrounding Verona Road are common nationwide, but neighborhood concerns about the effects of high-traffic roads rarely change the direction of the planning process, especially when lower-income neighborhoods are involved.
McAndrews said designers should take the public health impacts of roads into consideration before construction to minimize hazards earlier rather than later when they're more difficult to change.
The researchers chose to the Verona Road project because the road cuts through the middle of a neighborhood and is similar to suburban arterials across the country.
Verona Road carries 50,000-60,000 vehicles a day. Households in the poorest areas of the research study area earn less than $15,000 a year and 90 percent of residents are minorities, according to the study.
The study was published in the Journal of Planning Education and Research.