Quality of Life

Quality of Life is one of the three categories identified in the Economic Vitality Performance Framework. These categories specify how WSDOT seeks to achieve Washington State’s desired economic vitality outcome: To promote and develop transportation systems that stimulate, support, and enhance the movement of people and goods to ensure a prosperous economy. Quality of Life is defined as “increasing equity, health and access to affordable housing and community places and services.”

During the development of the Economic Vitality Performance Framework, stakeholders identified many different aspects to quality of life, including housing affordability, healthy environments, equity, and access to destinations. Access to destinations is addressed in the Mobility category of Economic Vitality performance measures and overlaps with the Mobility Performance Framework. The Quality of Life measures therefore focus on the effects of transportation investments on housing and transportation affordability and health outcomes.

This category includes three performance measures:

  • Support for areas of health disparities
  • Monetized health benefits of improved access to active transportation
  • Access to affordable housing
  • What? A binary, qualitative metric: the project is in a location with identified health disparities and will help address those disparities.
  • Why? Transportation investment can help address existing health disparities. Examples include increasing access to healthcare, improving safety, addressing poor air quality, or providing safer biking and walking facilities.
  • Where? Locations where social and/or economic determinants of health indicate that residents are at risk for poor health outcomes and locations where poor health outcomes already exist.
  • How? To assess this metric, WSDOT staff should work closely with local governments and MPO staff to ensure that the metric reflects local public health priorities and outcomes. The Washington State Department of Health provides environmental public health data through the Washington Tracking Network online mapping tool. This tool provides data on exposure to environmental hazards such as ozone, fine particulate matter, lead paint, and wastewater discharge, along with demographic information and data on poor health outcomes.
METRICSOURCESDATAANALYSIS SOFTWARECALCULATIONRESOURCES
Project is in a designated location with identified health disparities and will help address those disparitiesWashington DOH public health data
Public health data shapefile

Project location shapefile
GIS software (ArcGIS or similar)Yes/no
Washington Tracking Network online mapping tool
  • What? Estimated dollars of benefit from increased person-miles traveled by biking and walking across a defined geographic area.
  • Why? Access to Complete Streets facilities such as bicycle lanes, good sidewalks, and safe and well-lit streets can promote biking and walking. This physical activity can improve health, which delivers benefits to society, including reduced healthcare costs. Bicycle tourism and walkable, bikeable downtowns also provide direct economic return.
  • Where? Relevant for projects that could expand or improve active transportation access, total connected mileage for bike travel, central business districts, and Main Street highways. The impacts of individual investments on person-miles traveled by walking and biking will be hard to calculate at the project level; therefore, this metric is most relevant when comparing potential investments across different regions.
  • How? Estimate the benefits of improved access to active transportation by multiplying a value of dollars per person-miles traveled by the change in person miles traveled by bicycle or by walking. The analyst must assign biking and walking a dollar value of health benefits per person miles traveled and estimate the change in person miles traveled by bicycling or walking resulting from the transportation investments.
METRICSOURCESDATAANALYSIS SOFTWARECALCULATIONRESOURCES
Estimated dollars of benefit from increased person-miles traveled by biking and walking across a defined geographic areaEvaluating Active Transportation Benefits and Costs
Coefficients for dollar value per person miles traveled by biking/walking from reduced medical costs

Estimate of change in person miles traveled bicycling or walking
Health Economic Assessment ToolValue of dollars per person-miles traveled multiplied by change in person miles traveled by bicycle or
by walking

Health Economic Assessment Tool

Integrated Transport and Health Impact Modeling Tool (ITHIM)
  • What? Average housing and transportation costs in a specified geographic area as a percentage of household income.
  • Why? Transportation is critical for connecting areas with affordable housing to jobs and other services and necessities. Transportation costs also make up a significant portion of most household expenditures.
  • Where? The impacts of individual investments on access to and from affordable housing will be hard to calculate at the project level; therefore, this metric is most relevant when comparing potential investments across different regions.
  • How? WSDOT staff can evaluate affordability using the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Location Affordability Index, or the Center for Neighborhood Affordability’s Housing and Transportation Affordability Index. Alternatively, staff can use Sugar Access to evaluate jobs access for walking, biking, transit, and driving for lower-income households or for areas with high proportions of affordable housing.
METRICSOURCESDATAANALYSIS SOFTWARECALCULATIONRESOURCES
Average housing and transportation costs in a specified geographic area as a percentage of household incomeHUD location affordability index

U.S. Census data on household income

Average household income

Average housing and transportation costs
Sugar Access


HUD Location Affordability Index
Average housing and transportation costs divided by average household income

HUD Location Affordability Index