Investing in Transportation and Preserving Fragile Environments

Martin Wachs and Jaimee Lederman

In the early 1970s, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) owned large tracts of environmentally sensitive land near Beach Lake in the Sacramento River Valley. The land, acquired in anticipation of future projects but deemed no longer necessary, was to be declared surplus property and sold according to department protocol. One enterprising staff member, however, was thinking differently. He urged Caltrans to hold on to the land and use it for environmental mitigation credit to offset damage from future transportation projects in other areas. In an unusual move, the agency adopted his creative proposal, and the experiment paid off handsomely. In the following decades, the land fulfilled mitigation requirements for 49 separate projects in 14 counties with documented cost savings to Caltrans of over $25 million.

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Quantified Traveler: Travel Feedback Meets the Cloud to Change Behavior

Raja Sengupta and Joan L. Walker

Halting climate change will require a concerted effort to reduce emissions from on-road vehicles. While significant progress has been made to improve vehicle efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions, surface transportation accounted for half the increase in US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions over the past two decades. Today, surface transportation accounts for 24 percent of all US emissions. Automobile improvements alone will not be sufficient to meet federal and state emissions targets; policy makers also need to identify solutions that reduce the demand for car travel. Information technology offers a promising breakthrough on this front.

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Life-Cycle Impacts of Transit-Oriented Development

Matthew J. Nahlik and Mikhail Chester

There is a growing interest in pedestrian and transit-oriented development as a way to reduce the cost of transportation and home energy use. Yet there is little knowledge of how much alternative travel modes and compact developments reduce environmental impacts and household costs. As US cities begin to rethink their growth, city planners need better tools to measure the environmental and economic effects of infrastructure redesign.

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Fuel-Efficiency Standards: Are Greener Cars Safer?

Mark Jacobsen

The United States has strengthened its fuel efficiency regulations several times in recent years in an effort to reduce the environmental, economic, and energy security costs associated with gasoline. These standards encourage auto­makers to increase fuel efficiency by using advanced technology and by manufacturing lighter, lower-horsepower vehicles. But are these new fuel-efficient vehicles safe?

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2017-05-26T21:41:31+00:00Categories: ACCESS 45, Fall 2014|Tags: , |

An Innovative Path to Sustainable Transportation

Daniel Sperling

Contrary to popular belief, the world is awash in fossil energy, much of which can be readily converted into fuels for our cars, trucks, and planes. We are not running out of fossil fuels. The abundance of fossil fuels means we are unlikely to see high fuel prices due to scarcity. Indeed, most analysts predict that future oil prices will not be much higher than today’s, apart from occasional peaks due, for example, to conflicts in the Middle East. Prices might even end up lower as new exploration and extraction technologies for shale oil, heavy oils, deep-sea oil, and oil sands make it cheaper and easier to extract fossil energy. Thus, we cannot depend on high oil prices to reduce transport energy use and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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2017-05-26T21:41:39+00:00Categories: ACCESS 45, Fall 2014|Tags: , |

Carmageddon or Carmaheaven? Air Quality Results of a Freeway Closure

Arthur Winer, Yifang Zhu, and Suzanne Paulson

Air quality researchers have recently shifted their focus from regional smog, which has been reduced dramatically over the past 40 years, to the more localized impacts of vehicle emissions near roadways. Numerous studies have linked traffic-related air pollution to a broad range of adverse health outcomes. Concern has focused on black carbon, particles less than 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5), and ultrafine particles less than 100 nanometers in diameter, small enough to penetrate cell walls and cross the blood-brain barrier. These pollutants may be carried up to 300 meters downwind of major roadways during the day, and more than 2,000 meters downwind in the early morning hours, affecting large populations in major urban centers. By addressing these pollutants, policies to reduce traffic, congestion, and emissions can improve air quality and health. Download the PDF.

2018-02-12T21:32:32+00:00Categories: ACCESS 44, Spring 2014|Tags: , |

Greenhouse Gas Management: Local Efforts to Curb a Global Phenomenon

Juan Matute

In 2008, California adopted the Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act, or SB 375. Enforced by the California Air Resources Board, SB 375 seeks to lower greenhouse gas emissions by changing land use and travel behavior. The law requires each of the state's metropolitan planning organizations to create a "Sustainable Communities Strategy," which outlines an integrated regional transportation and land use plan to meet state-prescribed 2020 and 2035 greenhouse gas targets. Download the PDF.

2018-02-12T23:19:05+00:00Categories: ACCESS 42, Spring 2013|Tags: |

New Automobile Regulations: Double the Fuel Economy, Half the CO2 Emissions, and Even Automakers Like It

Nicholas Lutsey

No industry, let alone the auto industry, asks to be regulated. And if just five years ago you told automotive insiders—industry executives, environmental advocates, and California regulators—that this is how it would turn out, nobody would have believed it. Download the PDF.

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