Lance Neckar, Professor, Landscape Architecture
Roads create a number of negative impacts on natural resources: they fragment habitats, disturb hydrological regimes, and damage vegetative land cover and soils, while automobiles create air, water, and noise pollution. Roads can also act as barriers to non-motorized recreation. Nevertheless, the roadway system in Minnesota also provides necessary access and mobility to the state's five million residents. This study proposed recommendations to address the complex environmental impacts that the surface transportation system has on air, land, habitat, water, fish, and recreation resources. The recommendations are: 1) integrating effective, research-based resource conservation planning, assessment and protection with efficient transportation system planning and land use decision-making processes; 2) aligning and conducting cross-consultative environmental reviews of projects that can avert costly environmental transportation project mitigation, including incentives to expand environmental planning and design partnerships around eco-regional and watershed-based corridors and reserves; 3) adopting performance standards, best practices, and other protective conservation strategies across jurisdictions and scales based upon shared data, and allowing transportation projects to coordinate with county and metropolitan land use and environmental comprehensive planning and decision-making to integrate transportation with development that reduces growth in per capita vehicle miles traveled (VMT); and 4) and 5) generating incentives for research that mutually supports enhanced data monitoring, analysis, and education that helps improve and disseminate information regarding transportation impacts on terrestrial and aquatic habitats and water resources.