Still/Lyell Freeway Channel/Excelsior District

Authors: San Francisco Department of Public Health

Location: San Francisco, California, United States

“Of those with children, 57% of community survey participants reported that neighborhood traffic dangers affect their willingness to let their children walk or play outside.”

Completion Date: November 2004

HIA Report: Health, Traffic and Environmental Justice: A HIA of the Still/Lyell Freeway Channel in the Excelsior District

Summary of the HIA

Proposed Policy or Project

No pending proposal. This HIA examined the health impacts associated with past construction of the I-280 Freeway and high-traffic surface streets in the Excelsior District of San Francisco.

Background and Policy Context

San Francisco’s Excelsior District represents a working class community comprised of young people, immigrants and families of color. The area is also disproportionately exposed to concentrated traffic pollution associated with its proximity to the 280 freeway and several large busy thoroughfares. These corridors act as shortcut routes for many diesel trucks and busses as well as thousands of vehicles passing through daily. Amid concerns that residents in the Excelsior District of San Francisco were being disproportionately exposed to traffic-related exposures, People Organizing to Demand Environmental & Economic Rights (PODER), along with the San Francisco Department of Public Health and UC Berkley School of Public Health, set out to determine what were the community health impacts of heavy traffic and the transportation systems in the neighborhood. The collaborative focused on the associated health impacts of these thoroughfares on residents via air pollution, noise exposures, and pedestrian hazards.

Scope and Methods

The initial priorities of the project were to develop community knowledge regarding the environmental health challenges and community vulnerability. It was also necessary to involve community members in identifying practical solutions that could lead to community change in addressing these issues.

In order to assess current and historical conditions related to the neighborhood’s population and health-related conditions, researchers used:

  • Door-to-door community surveys
  • Traffic counts
  • Community photography
  • Oral histories
  • Outdoor air quality and noise modeling
  • Outdoor air quality and noise exposure assessment
  • Pedestrian environmental quality evaluation
  • Historical document review
  • Publicly available data from sources including hospitalization data, U.S. Census data, and traffic-related injury data

Summary of Findings

A table of key findings pertaining to: traffic, air quality, environmental noise, pedestrian hazards, the community, community health outcomes, and community solutions can be accessed using this link-

Background Reports


Rajiv Bhatia, MD, MPH

1390 Market Street, Ste. 822
San Francisco

(415) 252-3982