The National Academies

NCFRP 32 [Final]

Impact of Smart Growth on Metropolitan Goods Movement

  Project Data
Funds: $250,000
Research Agency: Puget Sound Regional Council
Principal Investigator: Alon Bassok
Effective Date: 11/5/2010
Completion Date: 4/4/2012
Comments: Published as NCFRP Report 24.

Smart growth has been proposed as an alternative to urban sprawl. There has been substantial research on the application of smart growth to passenger transport, but little has been done to examine its impact on goods movement. Transportation planning organizations are looking to influence future land-use patterns to create livable, sustainable communities by reducing such factors as vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and congestion, and therefore greenhouse gas emissions. However, along certain roadway segments, smart growth policies could increase congestion. Such congestion could decrease average speed, increase the frequency of hard vehicle accelerations, decrease vehicle fuel economy, and increase air pollutant emissions. Land-use activities (zoning, urban growth limits, etc.) are often disconnected from decisions regarding investments in the goods movement system. Understanding how land-use decisions can impact goods movement demand will become increasingly important. In addition, improved modeling that fully accounts for impacts of future land use on personal and goods transportation, in terms of VMT and potentially other metrics, could be used to help design smart growth strategies that result in the greatest emissions benefit.
The objective of this research is to modify existing public domain tools or models to provide guidance to identify the interrelationships between goods movement and smart growth applications that can be used by decisionmakers to more accurately understand metropolitan goods movement demand and relevant performance metrics. 
(1).  Describe current smart growth principles and practices, both domestic and international, and identify overarching themes to develop a definition of smart growth for this research. Identify metrics and performance measures, especially for goods movement (if available) that have been proposed and/or applied for such practices.   (2).  Based on existing federal, state, regional, and local proposals for goods movement and smart growth, identify public and private stakeholders (e.g., small businesses, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, shippers, carriers, planners) that would be affected by goods movement/smart growth plans, policies, and regulations.  Provide a rationale for selection of the identified stakeholders.    (3). Two months after contract initiation, prepare an interim report providing the results of Tasks 1 and 2. (4). Identify a potential effective set of goods movement and smart growth metrics and performance measures. Conduct surveys of public and private stakeholders identified in Task 2 to evaluate the use by planners of the selected metrics and performance measures. (5). Identify several transportation models and analytical tools in the public domain that could be modified with the smart growth and metropolitan goods movement metrics and performance measures selected in Task 4.  Identify the costs and likelihood of model or tool adaption for these purposes. Recommend a modified public domain model (e.g., activity-based or tour-based) or analytical tool for potential application in Task 7. (6). Upon NCFRP approval of the recommended modified model or analytical tool, develop three theoretical scenarios of land-use densities (high, medium, and low) to test the metrics and performance measures, including evaluation criteria, to ensure the output is valid. (7). Test the three scenarios and assess the validity of the modified model or analytical tool. (8). Prepare a final report documenting the research and the modified tool or model that provides guidance for decisionmakers to more accurately understand the interrelationships between metropolitan goods movement and smart growth applications.
STATUS: Published as NCFRP Report 24, Smart Growth and Urban Goods Movement.  The report is also available electronically at




To create a link to this page, use this URL: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=2920