Transportation Impacts of Transit-oriented Development in Rural Towns

Principal Investigator: Dr .Richard Watts (UVM Transportation Research Center)
Funding Agency: Maine DOT

Project Summary

This project will investigate the relationship between land use development, which implements smart growth principles, and its impact on transportation by looking at different build out scenarios for brownfield/infill development in existing cities and/or towns. Researching the vehicle miles traveled (VMT) changes associated with different land use build out scenarios should answer the following questions:

This project will engage town officials, citizens, and planners to develop alternate visions of future municipal development, both with and without mixed land use transit oriented developments (TOD). It will quantify the changes, both positive and negative, on total vehicle miles traveled (VMT) and vehicle air emissions under different future scenarios. VMT is a key measure used by transportation planners for identifying the magnitude of transportation impacts.

In this project, two Maine towns will be modeled using a transportation planning model (TransCAD or something similar), that incorporates land use designations into VMT estimates. The impacts of TOD on vehicle miles traveled and vehicle emissions will be estimated. Scenario planning techniques, which have proven useful for land use planning in other states, will be used to select the locations for TOD as well as the make-up of the developments. Scenarios might consist of a spatial re-arrangement of future projected development for the entire town into appropriate concentrated parcels. In this way, the community will not only contribute to the research project but also experience a learning discussion about how land use patterns impact automobile travel. The suggested scenarios are:

  1. Assume build-out in the town is status quo and based on historic land use patterns.
  2. Assume build-out in the town incorporates 1-2 transit-oriented developments.
  3. Assume build-out in the town incorporates 2-4 transit oriented developments This is an important project because at present there are no known estimates of the magnitude of how transit oriented development could affect VMT in a rural state such as Maine.

This project will provide estimates of the potential impacts of TOD in a rural environment using a real municipality, town or city and future land use assumptions developed in conjunction with local officials, planners, civic leaders and citizens. The project is a research and planning study; therefore it will not promote any individual existing projects or developments, nor will it necessarily tie in with any existing planning studies. It will be conducted over a two-year period and will be completed by the summer of 2010.

Technology Transfer