Remote video URL
Life Near the Highway: Examining Environmental Justice and Equity in Land Use and Transportation Planning

Roadways are the primary route of transportation for most Americans. Consequently, much of American society, including jobs, housing, schools, and recreational centers in major metropolitan areas, is intentionally clustered in neighborhoods close to highways. But life near highways—while convenient from a transportation perspective—has a major downside: constant exposure to air and noise pollution produced by cars, trucks, and motorcycles. A new Urban Institute brief summarizes evidence that people who live, work, and learn within 150 to 300 meters of highways are at increased risk of health problems including lung disease, stroke, and premature birth because of their increased exposure to pollution. Further, Americans who live near highways are more likely to be people of color or to have low incomes, posing a serious environmental justice concern.

During this event, we will discuss local, state, and federal policies and monitoring practices that could help ensure a safer, healthier, and more equitable future of transportation. Notably, speakers will discuss the opportunities and challenges that new federal funding (including the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and the 2022 Inflation Reduction Act) poses for policymakers leveraging transportation expenditures to fund pollution barriers or less-polluting roadway design.



  • Richard Baldauf, Senior Research Engineer, Environmental Protection Agency National Risk Management Research Laboratory
  • Jayajit Chakraborty, Professor of Geography, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, University of Texas at El Paso
  • Madeleine Daepp, Senior Researcher, Microsoft Research
  • Harrison Humphreys, Climate Programs Manager, Air Alliance Houston
  • Gabe Samuels, Research Assistant, Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center, Urban Institute


Support for this event is provided by the Kresge Foundation through the Shared Prosperity Partnership. For more on Urban’s funding policies, go to

We strive to host inclusive, accessible events that enable all individuals, including individuals with disabilities, to engage fully. Please email [email protected] if you require any accommodations or. have any questions about this event.

Date & Time Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Urban Institute Speaker
  • Research Analyst