The value of balanced growth for transportation.
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The value of balanced growth for transportation.

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  • Abstract:
    The Ohio Balanced Growth Program is a voluntary, locally-driven, incentive-driven program which aims to encourage

    compact, nodal development patterns. The Ohio Department of Transportation provided support for this research to evaluate

    potential links between Balanced Growth-type policy, land use and development patterns, and transportation benefits.

    A literature review was completed to understand the existing body of knowledge regarding the connection between

    policy, land use, and transportation. This included a scan of Balanced Growth-type programs across the US. Twenty-six US

    Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) were selected and reviewed for general geographic and policy characteristics. Land

    use and transportation outcome data were examined via scatterplot and linear regression across all of the MSAs. The results

    were evaluated broadly in light of policy frameworks in effect in each MSA, by categorizing land use policy into “tiers” based

    on voluntary vs. mandatory provisions, and applicability to private and public investment. Finally, a policy review was

    completed to understand the potential benefits of policy change at the state, regional, and local agency levels.

    Significant relationships were found between land use patterns, measured in terms of a sprawl composite index, and

    transportation outcomes for freeway lane miles, hours of delay, vehicle miles traveled, emissions, and safety. MSAs with “Tier

    3” policies (mandatory, rigorous policy affecting both public and private investment) clustered together on both axes

    (transportation outcomes and sprawl); and MSAs within states clustered together along the sprawl score axis. Otherwise,

    there was no apparent pattern in the location of policy tiers along either the transportation or land use axes. Possible

    alternative explanations that could be evaluated in the future include overall transportation investment levels; inter-state and

    inter-regional travel demand; size and shape of the MSA; and market, economic and social factors. Conclusions included

    policy recommendations for ODOT in supporting compact, nodal development at the local, regional and state levels. Future

    study recommendations include pursuing future data collection, monitoring and evaluation over time

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