The National Academies

NCHRP 08-117 [Anticipated]

Impact of Transformational Technologies on Land Uses

  Project Data
Source: NCHRP Project 20-113
Funds: $200,000
Staff Responsibility: Andrew C. Lemer
Fiscal Year: 2018

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected in July 2017. The project statement will be available on this world wide web site. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.

Several transformational technologies are coming together to profoundly influence transportation in cities and the broader impact of transportation on city services and operations. These beneficial technologies include mobility-on-demand (MODs) services, shared vehicles, connected and automated vehicles (CAVs), alternative-fuel vehicles (AFVs), smart cities and communities, and big data analytics. Further impact is anticipated from unmanned aerial systems, internet-of-things, and 3D printing. As MOD services have developed and proliferated in recent years (including transportation network companies [TNCs] such as Uber and Lyft), freight mobility is being affected as well personal transportation. Some of the initiatives and impacts are concentrated in identifiable corridors and precincts; others are more diffuse across urban, suburban, and rural space.

Very little information is currently available on the impacts of these technologies or their implications for government operations and finances. Tools to assist planners considering the implications of technological change are not available. The lack of information as well as the rapid rate of technological change pose challenges for policy makers at the local, regional, and state levels. For example, changes in how the “last mile” of retail (getting the goods to the consumer) is traversed are visible in real estate markets for “brick and mortar” retail stores and distribution- center facilities. MOD services and TNCs, in partnership or competition with more traditional public transportation services, appear to be influencing demand for transit-oriented development.

As these transformational technologies continue to evolve and spread through the economy, other impacts on land use will likely be felt. Some observers suggest that CAVs and shared vehicles will reduce—perhaps dramatically—demand for parking, in turn making significant amounts of urban and suburban land available for other purposes. Others suggest that automation of trucks and changes in freight transport operations will affect the location, function and layout of freight transfer facilities. Development of “smart corridors” with improved safety and efficiency of heavy truck operations could attract commercial activity and encourage changes in land use. Research is needed to explore how transformational technologies may influence future land use and describe plausible scenarios of future land-use patterns to inform transportation planners and policy makers in agencies that will be called on to ensure that our transportation system continues to provide effective, efficient, safe, and environmentally friendly access and mobility.

The objective of this research is to document potential and likely changes in site selection and demand for retail, office, distribution, production, housing, and parking land due to development of transformational technologies. The research should give broad consideration to transformational technologies, but may focus on three to five technologies likely to be particularly influential over a period of one to two decades. The research should consider implications for urban development patterns as well as real estate markets and issues of government policy as related to personal travel and freight transportation. The products of this research should be useful to government agencies and other stakeholders in local and state government responsible for infrastructure investment and land use and community planning.

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