Expanding The Indianapolis Cultural Trail: A Health Impact Assessment

  • Lisa Yazel-Smith
  • Andrew Merkley
  • Robin Danek
  • Cynthia Stone



Health Impact Assessments (HIA) are a tool used to measure the effect of policies and/or projects that may influence the health of populations. As a way to increase HIA practitioners, university courses in HIA can benefit both students and community organizations by presenting real-world opportunities for students to conduct HIA while partnering with community organizations or policy makers.



In order to conduct the rapid HIA to assess the Indiana Cultural Train (ICT) expansion, students in a graduate-level course conducted a five step HIA process of screening, scoping, assessment, recommendations and reporting, and monitoring and evaluating three potential trail expansion routes. Students examined local health data, conducted walkability assessments, and conducted seven key stakeholder interviews to gather data.



The results of data analysis show that the Riley Hospital Drive/Gateway Bridge is the best potential route for expansion due to safety considerations and the impact on the adjacent Ransom Place neighborhood. Six of the seven key informants were in favor of the expansion, with the two most cited reasons being additional space for exercise and recreation and the potential economic impact and connection to local businesses in the area.



The expansion across the proposed Gateway Bridge would combat parking issues associated with expanding the trail through Ransom Place as well as be the safest way to approach the large intersections. With local residents’ concerns of gentrification and safety in mind, the ICT trail expansion could lead to increased health outcomes by offering additional space for exercise, recreation, and active transportation.