If They Come, Will You Build It?

Principal Investigator:

David Levinson, Professor, Civil, Environmental and Geo-Engineering

Project Summary:

This research applied a holistic, integrated approach to transportation planning for the Twin Cities metro area. Previous research in transportation planning models has tended to focus on understanding travel behavior, while taking the supply side as a given. Thus planners respond to, and try to shape, demand by recommending investments in new infrastructure and changes in public policy. While small segments of the network may be changed at any given time, those investments are limited by decisions that have come before; and perhaps more importantly, today's decisions constrain future choices.

In this research, the causes and implications of the prevalent method of accommodating growth (building in response to demand) as it applies to node formation, link formation and link expansion were studied, using data spanning two decades. This enabled the development of scientifically based models for projection and planning that address network investment, utilization and capacity. The final report lends an intriguing perspective to the concept of transportation expansion in an urban setting. Throughout the analysis, the researchers propose (and support) the perspective of the Twin Cities highway system as a dynamic organism, capable of affecting and responding to change. These models will serve as valuable tools to those interested in planning in a way that best serves current and future transportation demands.

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