Research Reports

Transportation-Related Impacts of Different Regional Land-Use Scenarios

Principal Investigator:

Gary Barnes

December 2003

Report no. MnDOT 2004-03

Projects: Transportation Related Costs of Different Regional Land Use Scenarios

Topics: Economics, Planning

This research addresses the question of how different regional land-use patterns would impact travel behavior and resulting transportation costs and benefits. This report defines six hypothetical future regional land-use scenarios for the Twin Cities region, representing combinations of different styles of residential and commercial development. The traffic patterns resulting from each of these scenarios are then used to describe the resulting congestion, air pollution, and accessibility to jobs. The results of the research indicate that the current conventional wisdom that compact development is better is at best an oversimplification. Certain types of compact development do appear to be better for certain goals, or for certain locations; however, at the same time they are often worse for other goals or other locations. Despite some difficult methodological problems, this seems like a question worth exploring further. While it appears that land use alone cannot solve transportation-related problems, it does seem that the rate at which these problems grow can be impacted at least moderately at a regional level, and sometimes very substantially at local levels.

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