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Comprehensive Transportation Projects

Border Health Equity Transportation Study: A Case Study of the San Ysidro Community

In February 2015, SANDAG completed the Border Health Equity Transportation Study (BHETS), documenting the links between the built environment and health outcomes in the San Ysidro community near the U.S.-Mexico border. The study was funded primarily by a Caltrans Environmental Justice Planning Grant, which supported comprehensive approaches to integrating transportation and land use planning to improve quality of life and sustainability of local communities.

The study identified health disparities in San Ysidro and quantified the possible impacts of transportation and other improvement projects on community health to help both community members and city planners to prioritize projects and programs to reduce health disparities. 

The final study identified sixteen key recommendations that show the most promise for improving community health. While SANDAG conducted the study, the agency is not involved in planning or funding the implementation of the recommended projects.

BHETS Story Map

To explore the study recommendations in detail, see the interactive story map below. Scroll through each slide to learn more about the study and view the proposed location of each recommendation within San Ysidro.

BHETS Story Map


Transportation and planning decisions directly influence a community’s exposure to air and noise pollution; pedestrian and bike conditions; traffic safety; access to jobs, goods, and services; and social cohesion. Substantial evidence connects these “determinants of health” to community health outcomes, such as higher levels of asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, injuries, adverse birth outcomes, and mental illness.

To guide the health outcomes analysis, the study assessed community-wide priority issue areas through qualitative and quantitative approaches. Priority issue areas were developed through input from San Ysidro community members and existing research conducted within the study area on issues, such as mobility, connectivity, and air quality.

The study used mobility/built environment data, as well as health data to compare the community of San Ysidro to the City of San Diego, as well as the South Bay Subregional Area to the overall County of San Diego to identify potential disparities.

A statistical analysis was conducted in order to quantify the relationship between the health and built environment data. The results from this analysis were then used to prioritize program and project recommendations based on their potential to impact positive change in community health outcomes. 

Ultimately, the study provides a framework for integrating health assessment into the transportation planning process and is designed to be easily replicated by other local or regional planning agencies.

Community Toolbox

The San Ysidro community toolbox can help community members to leverage the findings of the study to inform decision makers and provide evidence-based support for capital improvement projects and/or community-wide programs that positively impact public health.

Project Manager

Dan Gallagher, Senior Regional Planner
Phone: (619) 595-5354, Email:

For media inquiries, please contact the SANDAG Public Information Office at (619) 699-1950 or