Transportation Policy & Planning

Changing Lanes

Joseph F. DiMento and Cliff Ellis

Few planning decisions have affected American cities as much as those involving urban freeways. Massive freeway infrastructure projects have reconfigured urban form, supplanted neighborhoods, displaced tens of thousands of people, and cost billions of dollars. Congress and state legislatures passed important new laws that guided where freeways could be built, what funds were available, which types of consultation and analysis should be conducted, and what impacts were permissible. Lawmakers and courts required that projects be planned and completed with maximum sensitivity to the environment, with concern for relocating displaced residents, and with active citizen participation.

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Common Ground

Karen Trapenberg Frick

With political polarization hindering progress in public policy and meaningful engagement at all levels of government, now is a good time to reflect on how we run public participation processes. How do legislative requirements—like those for the regional planning process in California—help or hinder meaningful public engagement? What are the biggest challenges and opportunities for improving public engagement?

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2017-05-26T21:37:09+00:00Categories: ACCESS 47, Fall 2015|Tags: |

The Social Context of Travel

Michael Smart and Nicholas J. Klein

Imagine two young families living next door to one another in an apartment building in the Castro district of San Francisco, one of the most well-known gay neighborhoods in America. The two families are alike in most regards, but one couple is straight and the other is gay. Neither have children. They have similar jobs and incomes, and they both like living in a dense urban environment. Their daily travel patterns, however, are very different. The gay couple’s trips to work, shops, restaurants, bars, and friends’ houses are more local than that of their straight neighbors down the hall.

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Suburban Transit in Mexico City

Erick Guerra

Over the past decade, governments and development agencies have invested significantly in high-capacity transit in Asian, Latin American, and African cities. Beijing’s subway system grew from just two lines in 2000 to one of the world’s largest metro systems today. Each year, a dozen new Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines open in cities around the world. Concerns about economic competitiveness, congestion, sprawl, pollution, and accessibility for the poor and middle class motivate these investments.

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A Bathtub Model of Downtown Traffic Congestion

Richard Arnott

William Vickrey is the “father of congestion pricing” and a Nobel Laureate in economics. While watching the ebb and flow of traffic from his Manhattan office, he developed a hypothesis that the dynamics of rush-hour traffic have the same properties as water flowing into and out of a hypothetical bathtub.

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THE ACCESS ALMANAC: Painting the Present, Imagining the Future

Richard Willson

I am a transportation researcher and a landscape painter, two activities that couldn’t seem more different. But are they? Transportation models are an abstraction from reality. Painting, even representational painting, requires abstraction from an infinitely complex visual field. Both types of abstraction require decisions about what is in and what is excluded. So perhaps transportation research and painting have more in common than we might think. Furthermore, do transportation paintings provide insights that transportation research excludes?

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Carmageddon in Los Angeles: The Sizzle and the Fizzle

Brian D. Taylor and Martin Wachs

“Carmageddon” refers to the horrific traffic jams predicted when a bridge reconstruction project in Los Angeles required closing 10 miles of the Interstate 405 freeway on two weekends. The closed freeway through the Sepulveda Pass between West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley is one of the most heavily traveled arteries in the world, with more than half a million vehicles passing through on a typical summer weekend. Traffic from the closures was predicted to back up for miles and spill onto local streets, severely congesting some parts of Los Angeles. Download the PDF.

Pursuing the Technological Sublime: How the Bay Bridge Became a Megaproject

Karen Trapenberg Frick

The newly opened eastern span of the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge is a classic example of a megaproject at $6.4 billion and a textbook embodiment of what I have identified as the “six Cs” of a typical megaproject: colossal, captivating, costly, controversial, complex, and subject to issues of control. Here, I focus on how the “captivating” and “colossal” characteristics affected the bridge design process and implementation. Captivating and colossal projects engage and stimulate participation by a broad set of stakeholders and citizens, whose varied perspectives and inputs can be difficult to accommodate without controversy and conflict. Download the PDF.

2018-02-16T22:18:57+00:00Categories: ACCESS 44, Spring 2014|Tags: |

We Can Learn Something from That! Promoting an Experimental Culture in Transportation

Joseph L. Schofer and Raymond Chan

Decision makers need to know what works and what doesn’t in order to make informed choices about transportation investments. Hard evidence, rather than opinions, should be the source of this information. Making use of hard evidence, though, can be challenging when transportation proposals come from policy makers who have already made a public commitment to an idea, such as building a high-speed rail system. Download the PDF.

2018-02-14T22:36:07+00:00Categories: ACCESS 44, Spring 2014|Tags: |