Coordinating transportation and land development is a topic that has been getting increasing attention in recent years, and for good reason. The impacts of transportation and planning practices of the last 50 years is evident in many regions across the nation in the form of increased roadway congestion, longer travel times, increased trips and miles traveled, and a general concern with diminished quality of life and reduced economic viability. While not everyone yet accepts the role that segregated, uncoordinated, low-density, sprawling development plays in overtaxing the transportation system, a growing consensus is emerging that better coordination is needed.
The good news is that new models and approaches have emerged in the past few years prompted, in part, by the emphasis on intermodal transportation and context sensitive solutions at the state and federal level. The emergence of the Smart Growth movement in the mid-1990s -- which supports mixed-use, compact, walkable neighborhoods at the local level and greater emphasis on transit for regional mobility -- contributed in an important way to this process. Additional impetus has been provided by the fiscal realities that most state transportation departments are operating under. At a time when budgets are stretched thin, most states simply do not have the fiscal resources to build new roadway capacity and maintain existing systems that are often badly in need of repair. The emerging recognition within state departments of transportation that prevailing land use planning and development practices are leading to increases in vehicle miles traveled and causing congestion to spiral out of control, is also driving the search for new, out-of-the-box solutions.
The purpose of the Seminar was to bring together decision makers from both the transportation and land development sectors in six different states to: (1) examine the implications of demographic, land use, and transportation trends; (2) identify the mutual and interrelated challenges of meeting development and transportation needs; and (3) identify and evaluate successful practices. Each of the states selected to participate was asked to put together a delegation that included the following eight individuals:
- State transportation agency CEO or chief engineer
- CEO of a state development and/or planning agency, or state legislator
- City or county elected official
- City or county land use professional
- Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) representative
- Local developer
- Community activist
- Transit official
To insure that discussions would cover a range of settings and conditions, an effort was made to choose states that were diverse in size, growth rate, and urban/rural composition. The six states were selected from among 16 states that responded to the invitation to participate that was sent out to state transportation agency CEOs or directors. The states chosen to participate included: California, Idaho, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Three representatives from the Salt Lake City region were also invited to attend to share their experience with the Envision Utah process.
The seminar was structured to encourage interaction between the members of each state team and between participants from different states. Prior to traveling to Irvine, most state teams met in person or via video-conference to discuss how transportation and land use were being coordinated at the local, regional and state levels.
A summary of the seminar was provided to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) for disposition (no further action was taken by AASHTO). A copy of the agency report provided to NCHRP is available here