Research Reports

How Well-Designed Transportation Projects Make Great Places

Principal Investigator:

Andrew Goldberg

September 2007

Report no. CTS 07-06

Topics: Planning

Well-designed transportation projects demonstrate the potential to shape a community in ways that go far beyond the project's original purposes. Anecdotal evidence and advocacy exist on behalf of the benefits of well-designed transportation projects on communities. Yet there is little organized quantifiable or qualitative data. Nor is there a comprehensive guide for communities to maximize or integrate the diverse benefits that well-designed transportation projects can bring.

Recognizing this lack of data about the role of design in transportation, Congress authorized a study in the 2005 Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient, Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). Moving Communities Forward: How Well Designed Transportation Projects Make Great Places seeks to achieve two goals: (1) beginning to measure how well-designed transportation projects can bring multiple enhancements to communities in terms of economic development, health and the environment, visual identity and design, public participation and public safety; and (2) providing communities, designers, transportation officials and policymakers a set of principles and practices to adapt to their unique situations and needs.

The Moving Communities Forward research team employed a case study-based approach, analyzing nearly 30 transportation projects that represent a broad spectrum of regions, demographics and project types. Although a specific design feature or process works in one kind of transportation project, in one kind of community, it will not necessarily succeed somewhere else. But the broad principles and practices that designers employ can be repeated, in modified forms, across a wide array of transportation-related projects. The research team identified key principles and practices that designers and others can use - in the context of their unique situation and environment - to realize multiple enhancements to their communities.

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