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The National Academies

NCHRP 08-117 [Active]

Impact of Transformational Technologies on Land Use and Transportation

  Project Data
Funds: $200,000
Staff Responsibility: Andrew C. Lemer
Research Agency: Kittelson & Associates, Inc,
Principal Investigator: Richard Dowling, Ph.D.
Effective Date: 5/1/2018
Completion Date: 7/31/2019

BACKGROUND
 
Many observers suggest that rapidly evolving technologies in a number of fields will have transformational impacts on land use and transportation in settings ranging from rural to intensely urban. For example, changes in telecommunication have fostered telecommuting and development of on-demand delivery and transportation services that in turn may be changing patterns of work and home locations, vehicle ownership and use, demand for parking facilities, and utilization of curb space in urban centers. Similarly, expanding application of 3-D printing, E-commerce, and unmanned aerial systems (UASs, popularly referred to as drones) together seem poised to shift industrial supply chains and utilization of warehouse space, leading to changes in freight transportation patterns and demand for investment in intermodal transfer facilities. State departments of transportation (DOTs), metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), local government authorities, and other public-sector decision makers are increasingly confronted with questions of how to ensure that communities recognize the potential consequences that transformational technologies may have on their economic activity and land use and that public investments in transportation facilities and services are managed to maintain economic vitality and high quality of life.
 
For the purposes of this research, transformational technologies (TTs) are any of a broad range of evolving new applications of science, engineering, and societal organization that have the potential to transform how people and institutions use land and transportation systems to support economic and social activity. Examples of TTs—many are discussed in technical and popular media—include wireless telecommunications, shared vehicles, connected vehicles, automated vehicles, alternative-fuel vehicles, smart cities and communities, big data analytics, internet-of-things, as well as UASs, 3-D printing, and more. These TTs, individually and together, are already influencing on how businesses and individuals using rights-of-way, curb space and ancillary transportation facilities (for example, parking and intermodal transfer facilities), and the land and structures accommodating activities that are travel-demand intensive. Continued development and application of TTs seem likely to accelerate such impacts. Research is needed to provide guidance to assist DOT and other public-sector decision makers responsible for considering how TTs will affect travel behavior and demand for and use of land influencing transportation infrastructure and services.
 
OBJECTIVE
 
The objective of this research is to develop a guidebook providing a template or procedure for practical assessment by state department of transportation (DOT) and other transportation-system decision makers of the likely impact of transformational technologies on future activity centers, land use, and travel demand, with examples illustrating application of the template to address issues encountered by these decision makers.
 
RESEARCH PLAN
 
The research is planned to develop at least the following products:

Interim Report 1 presenting literature reviews, expert interviews, and other background research as needed to support presentation of a framework for consideration of the potential impacts of transformational technologies (TTs) with potential to have significant impact on land use and travel demand in the United States. The framework shall have at least the following components: (a) a taxonomy of TTs with potential to have significant impact on land use and travel demand within a one- to three-decade time horizon; (b) illustrative examples of specific TTs within each taxonomic category and the cause-and-effect relationships between each specific TT and land use or travel demand and their potential time scales; and (c) representative decision makers or institutions likely to be concerned with influencing these relationships or responding to their economic and social impacts.

Workshop of experts to test and refine the framework for consideration of the potential impacts of transformational technologies (TTs) with potential to have significant impact on land use and travel demand in the United States.

Interim Report 2 presenting a refined and expanded framework for consideration of the potential impacts of TTs with potential to have significant impact on land use and travel demand in the United States, identifying (a) typical short- and long-term issues facing decision-makers, decisions to be made, and consequences related to TTs’ impacts on use of land and travel system configuration and management; (b) metrics of change for evaluating the significance of TT impacts; (c) private sector and other institutional or jurisdictional partnerships needed to manage land use and transportation system investment and operations to respond to TTs; and (d) information needed to support effective transportation system investment and management decisions.

Guide to help DOT and other transportation-system decision-makers assess the likely impacts of TTs on future activity centers, land use and travel demand, including at least the following components: (a) characterization of significant relationships between TTs and land use and travel demand; (b) identification of typical short- and long-term issues facing decision-makers, decisions to be made, and consequences related to TTs’ impacts on use of land and transportation system configuration and management; (c) identification of metrics of change for evaluating the significance of TT impacts; (d) identification of the private sector, institutional or jurisdictional partnerships needed to manage land use and transportation system investment and operations to respond to TTs; (e) information needed to support effective transportation system investment and management decisions; and (f) examples of issues related to TTs and direction on how to use the Guide to address such issues. 
 

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