Increased traffic congestion, loss of open space, infrastructure costs, and a desire for more housing options have all made smart growth an increasingly powerful strategy for building and revitalizing communities, catalyzing economic development and protecting the environment.
Evidence of this trend is every-where. Of the 189 ballot initiatives in 2002 related to state and local conservation, 141 were approved. Elected in 2002, Massachusetts Republican Governor Mitt Romney, Michigan Democratic Governor Jennifer Granholm and Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Ed Rendellare poised to make smart growth actions a high priority.
Smart growth projects nationwide were built in record numbers, continuing a five-year upward trend, reported “The New Urban News,” an industry publication that tracks new development. Cities and towns across the country are re-examining and changing comprehensive plans, zoning and other building regulations to make smart growth possible.
The study that resulted in this book was initiated in September 2001 to examine how decisions about public transportation, land development and redevelopment, and historic preservation have complemented one another in dozens of communities nationwide. The goal of the study was to demonstrate how transit and historic preservation act as compatible forces to revitalize communities. We set out to illuminate the many ways in which communities of all sizes have restored their urban or suburban cores and made full use of those centers’ capacities to help metropolitan areas grow sustainably. We wanted to find out how historic preservation values are informing community planning for public transit, and how these values are being used in development decisions intended to promote transit use.
Transportation, acting through enhanced accessibility, is a long acknowledged influence in the shaping of cities and the determination of land development potential. The reverse, however, the impact of land use decisions on transportation outcomes, has only gradually achieved recognition. It is these reverse impacts — of interest in the treatment of land use and site design options as “transportation” strategies, a facet of “smart growth” — that provides the impetus for this chapter. Presented here is information on what is known or surmised about the relationships between land use/site design and travel behavior.
The increasingly adverse effects of automobile use on traffic congestion and air pollution, combined with the limited financial ability to continually invest in transportation infrastructure, has led to the consideration of non-transportation strategies for managing and influencing travel demand. The paradigm shift toward non-transportation strategies to manage travel demand gained momentum, in particular, with the advent of the New Urbanism movement in the early 1990s (Duany and Plater-Zyberk, 1991). The New Urbanism movement is a manifestation of environmental determinism, wherein the urban planner’s role is to engineer and encourage socially-vibrant and environmentally-friendly modes of transportation such as walking and bicycling.
The consideration of non-transportation strategies to manage demand, spurred by the New Urbanism movement, has led to a burgeoning literature at the interface of land use and transportation. In particular, there have been several studies…
National transportation policy faces a number of urgent imperatives, including mitigation of air pollution and greenhouse gas production, and coping with congestion in the face of constrained capacity to construct and expand roadways. Because of these concerns, research into the interaction of land use and transportation policy has focused on the capacity of alternative land use approaches--including transit villages, New Urbanist development, jobs-housing balance, and compact development in general--to moderate growth in vehicle miles traveled (VMT). These development forms are referred to collectively in this study as "alternative" development.
Transportation and land use research that considers such alternatives as New Urbanist development, jobs-housing balance, transit villages, or “smart growth” most typically tests the capacity of such physical forms to reduce vehicle miles traveled (VMT) or bring about other desired outcomes in the modification of travel behavior. Establishing such causality is broadly seen as a precondition for the urban planning interventions that are presumed to be necessary to bring these forms about. But such a view neglects the extent to which current interventions—notably zoning and transportation regulations— tend to preclude the development of such innovations in areas of high accessibility where they can potentially be of the greatest benefit.
Rising concerns about traffic congestion, loss of farmland, urban disinvestment, and the costs of public infrastructure have led an increasing number of state and local governments to adopt new policies to better manage metropolitan growth. Such programs often involve a package of tools such as zoning, comprehensive plans, subdivision regulations, development fees and exactions, and infrastructure investments and are sometimes described as growth controls, growth management, sustainable development, or smart growth. Despite these efforts' increasing popularity, some observers are concerned that such efforts adversely affect land and housing markets and lead to problems of housing affordability.
In October 2002, ULI–the Urban Land Institute convened a panel of 14 experts in Washington, D.C., to discuss the topic “smart growth transportation for suburban greenfields.” The purpose of the forum was to stimulate a dialogue on the question of how the smart growth principle of expanding travel choices can be applied in emerging growth areas on the fringes of metropolitan development. Typically, these areas are developed in ways that depend almost exclusively on highways and cars as the chief means of transportation. The major question before the panel was whether and how greenfield development could be adapted to make use of other travel choices more feasible. A diverse group of real estate professionals participated, such as developers, real estate advisers, financiers, and land use planning practitioners, as well as representatives of federal, state, and regional transportation agencies and organizations.