National Center for Smart Growth Research Works

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The National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) works to advance the notion that research, collaboration, engagement and thoughtful policy development hold the key to a smarter and more sustainable approach to urban and regional development. NCSG is based at the University of Maryland, College Park, housed under the School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation, with support from the College of Agriculture & Natural Resources, the A. James Clark School of Engineering, the School of Public Policy, and the Office of the Provost.


Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 20 of 69
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    Comparing objective measures of environmental supports for pedestrian travel in adults
    (Springer Nature, 2009-11-19) Shay, Elizabeth; Rodriguez, Daniel A; Cho, Gihyoug; Clifton, Kelly J; Evenson, Kelly R
    Evidence is growing that the built environment has the potential to influence walking--both positively and negatively. However, uncertainty remains on the best approaches to representing the pedestrian environment in order to discern associations between walking and the environment. Research into the relationship between environment and walking is complex; challenges include choice of measures (objective and subjective), quality and availability of data, and methods for managing quantitative data through aggregation and weighting. In particular, little research has examined how to aggregate built environment data to best represent the neighborhood environments expected to influence residents' behavior. This study examined associations between walking and local pedestrian supports (as measured with an environmental audit), comparing the results of models using three different methods to aggregate and weight pedestrian features. Using data collected in 2005-2006 for a sample of 251 adult residents of Montgomery County, MD, we examined associations between pedestrian facilities and walking behaviors (pedestrian trips and average daily steps). Adjusted negative binomial and ordinary least-squares regression models were used to compare three different data aggregation techniques (raw averages, length weighting, distance weighting) for measures of pedestrian facilities that included presence, condition, width and connectivity of sidewalks, and presence of crossing aids and crosswalks. Participants averaged 8.9 walk trips during the week; daily step counts averaged 7042. The three aggregation techniques revealed different associations between walk trips and the various pedestrian facilities. Crossing aids and good sidewalk conditions were associated with walk trips more than were other pedestrian facilities, while sidewalk facilities and features showed associations with steps not observed for crossing aids and crosswalks. Among three methods of aggregation examined, the method that accounted for distance from participant's home to the pedestrian facility (distance weighting) is promising; at the same time, it requires the most time and effort to calculate. This finding is consistent with the behavioral assumption that travelers may respond to environmental features closer to their residence more strongly than to more distant environmental qualities.
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    Smart Growth in Maryland: Looking Forward and Looking Back
    (2007) Frece, John; Knaap, Gerrit
    Spring of 2007 will mark the 10th anniversary of the passage of Maryland’s Smart Growth and Neighborhood Conservation Initiative; an effort designed to discourage sprawl development, foster more compact communities, protect the best remaining farms and open space in the state, and save taxpayers from the growing cost of providing services and infrastructure to serve far-flung development. Almost before its various provisions took effect in 1997 and 1998, the Maryland initiative generated interest and acclaim across the country. It received numerous awards and became the principal legacy of the program’s primary architect, former Governor Parris N. Glen- dening. Governors in other states, such as New Jersey, Colorado and Massachusetts, instituted their own “smart growth” proposals, often modeled after portions of the Maryland program. Even the popularity and wide usage of the now omnipresent phrase “smart growth” can be attributed in large part to the Maryland program. But, what has been the effect of Maryland’s Smart Growth pro- gram? Looking at it some ten years later, has it worked? Did it accomplish what it was designed to do? What have been the strengths and weaknesses of the Maryland approach, and how can lessons from the Maryland experience be used to offer a new set of policymakers in Maryland, as well as elsewhere in the nation, practical suggestions on how to make smart growth smarter?
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    The Puzzle of Local Double Taxation: Why Do Private Community Associations Exist?
    (The Independent Review, 2009) Nelson, Robert
    Private community associations have spread quickly in many parts of the United States, even though their members must pay both association dues and local taxes for similar services. Not only do private community associations offer several advantages over traditional governance structures, but local governments often encourage developers to establish them.
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    Gradual Rasterization: Redefining the Spatial Resolution in Transport Modeling
    (2014) Moeckel, Rolf; Donnelly, Rick
    Finding the appropriate spatial resolution in modeling is a serious challenge at the beginning of every modeling project. The paper presents a methodology to adjust the spatial geography to the resolution of a network. Based on the quadtree algorithm, raster cells are generated that are dynamic in size. Smaller raster cells are used in urban areas and larger raster cells are used in low-density, rural areas. Trip tables of a travel demand model for the State of Georgia are disaggregated to this new zone system of raster cells, and assignment results validate significantly better than when using the original zone system.
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    Comparing Driver and Capacity Characteristics at Intersections With and Without Red Light Cameras
    (2011) Weldegiorgis, Yohannes; Mishra, Sabyasachee; Jha, Manoj K.
    The primary purpose of installing Red Light Cameras (RLCs) is to improve intersection safety by discouraging motorists to cross the intersection when the signal for approaching vehicles turns red. Due to the fear of being fined when crossing an RLC equipped intersection at the onset of the red signal, many approaching vehicles may have a tendency of stopping during the yellow phase. This tendency may impact intersection capacity, which can be significant in congested transportation networks during rush hours, especially when several intersections are equipped with RLCs along a sequence of traffic signals, resulting in a disruption of traffic progression. In order to examine the driver and capacity characteristics at intersections with RLCs and compare them with those without RLCs we develop a binary probit choice model to understand driver's stop and go behavior at the onset of yellow intervals, also known as dilemma zone. Further, in order to capture the impact to intersection capacity at intersections with RLCs we develop a probabilistic computational procedure using data from ten intersection pairs (with and without RLCs) in the Baltimore area. The results indicate that, in general, RLCs reduce the intersection capacity since driver's travel behavior is influenced by the presence of the cameras. Other contributory factors for the so-called capacity reduction, such as driver population (e.g., familiar vs. unfamiliar drivers) and traffic-mix (e.g., trucks vs. passenger cars) characteristics have been left for future works.
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    A Case for Increased State Role in Transit Planning: Analyzing Land Use and Transit Ridership Connections Using Scenarios
    (2011) Chakraborty, Arnab; Mishra, Sabyasachee
    Land use and neighborhood characteristics have long been linked to transit ridership. Large-scale agencies, such as state departments of transportations, often make decisions that affect land use pattern and transit services. However, the interdependencies between them are seldom harnessed in decision-making. In this article, we develop and apply a transit ridership model based on land use and other neighborhood characteristics for an entire state. We then discuss its implications for regional and state-level decision-making. We chose the state of Maryland as our study area. Using a number of criteria, we subdivided the state into 1151 statewide modeling zones (SMZs) and, for each zone in the base year (2000), developed a set of variables, including developed land under different uses, population and employment densities, free-flow and congested speeds, current transport capacities, and accessibility to different transport modes. We estimated two sets of OLS-regression models for the base year data: one on the statewide SMZs dataset and other on subsets of urban, suburban and rural typologies. We find that characteristics of land use, transit accessibility, income, and density are strongly significant and robust for the statewide and urban areas datasets. We also find that determinants and their coefficients vary across urban, suburban and rural areas suggesting the need for finely tuned policy. Next we used a suite of econometric and land use models to generate two scenarios for the horizon year (2030) – business as usual and high-energy price – and estimated ridership changes between them. We use the resulting scenarios to show how demand could vary by parts of the state and demonstrate the framework’s value in large-scale decision-making.
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    Examination of Regional Transit Service Under Contracting: A Case Study in the Greater New Orleans Region
    (Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI), 2011) Iseki, Hiroyuki
    Many local governments and transit agencies in the United States face financial difficulties in providing adequate public transit service in individual systems, and in providing sufficient regional coordination to accommodate transit trips involving at least one transfer between systems. These difficulties can be attributed to the recent economic downturn, continuing withdrawal of the state and federal funds that help support local transit service, a decline in local funding for transit service in inner cities due to ongoing suburbanization, and a distribution of resources that responds to geographic equity without addressing service needs. This study examines two main research questions: (1) the effect of a “delegated management” contract on efficiency and effectiveness within a single transit system, and (2) the effects of a single private firm—contracted separately by more than one agency in the same region—on regional coordination, exploring the case in Greater New Orleans. The current situation in New Orleans exhibits two unique transit service conditions. First, New Orleans Regional Transit Authority (RTA) executed a “delegated management” contract with a multinational private firm, outsourcing more functions (e.g., management, planning, funding) to the contractor than has been typical in the U.S. Second, as the same contractor has also been contracted by another transit agency in an adjacent jurisdiction—Jefferson Transit (JeT), this firm may potentially have economic incentives to improve regional coordination, in order to increase the productivity and effectiveness of its own transit service provision. Although the limited amount of available operation and financial data has prevented us from drawing more definitive conclusions, the findings of this multifaceted study should provide valuable information on a transit service contracting approach new to the U.S.: delegated management. This study also identified a coherent set of indices with which to evaluate the regional coordination of transit service, the present status of coordination among U.S. transit agencies, and barriers that need to be resolved for regional transit coordination to be successful.
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    The Rise of Private Neighborhood Associations: A Constitutional Revolution in Local Government
    (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2002) Nelson, Robert H.
    A revival of the neighborhood is seen by many commentators as a key element in a wider effort to reenergize the intermediate institutions of American society. The weakening of these institutions is blamed for a decline in trust, public spirit, and generally an erosion of civic values in the United States in recent decades. The rise of the private neighborhood follows in the wake of the rise of the corporate form of business ownership of property in the late nineteenth century, both representing fundamental turns away from individual ownership of private property and towards new collective forms of private ownership. Indeed, the rise of private neighborhood associations represents the most important property right development in the United States since the rise of the modern business corporation.
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    Hotspots for Growth: Land Use Change and Priority Funding Area Policy in a Transitional County in the U.S.
    (2010) Hanlon, Bernadette; Howland, Marie; McGuire, Michael
    This paper uses a logit model to estimate whether and to what extent Maryland’s Priority Funding Area (PFA) program steers urban growth to locations inside targeted growth area boundaries of an ex-urban county in the outer suburbs of the Washington, D.C. region. The results of our model indicate that the size of an agricultural parcel, its distance from urban parcels, its proximity to highways, the quality of the land for agriculture, and the location in or outside of PFAs influence the probability an agricultural parcel will remain in agriculture or be converted to urban use. We find that some of the areas experiencing the greatest market pressure for development are located outside PFAs and, although Maryland’s incentive-based strategy reduces the likelihood a parcel outside a PFA will transition to urban use, this policy is not one hundred percent effective.
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    A Joint Travel Demand and Environmental Model To Incorporate Emission Pricing For Large Transportation Networks
    (2012) Mishra, Sabyasachee; Welch, Timothy; Welch
    Emission reduction strategies are gaining greater attention to support the national objective for a sustainable and green transportation system. A large percent of emission contribution that arises from transportation modes are primarily from auto and truck travel. Reductions in highway travel require prudent planning strategies and modeling user’s response to planner’s policies. Modeling planning goals and user’s response is a challenging task. In this paper the authors present a joint travel demand and environmental model to incorporate vehicle emission pricing (VEP) as a strategy for emission reduction. First, the travel demand model determines the destination, mode and route choice of the users in response to the VEP strategy set by the planner. Second, the emission model provides NOx, VOC, and CO2 estimates at a very detailed level. A Base-case and three models are proposed to incorporate VEP in a multimodal transportation network. The objective function of the Base-case is the minimization of Total System Travel Time (TST), and the models are designed with the objective of minimizing Total System Emission (TSE). User Equilibrium method is used for travel to model user responses and solved by Frank Wolfe algorithm. The Base-case represents “do-nothing” conditions and the three models address the interactions between planner’s perspectives and user responses to VEP strategies. The proposed model is applied to Montgomery County’s (located in the Washington DC-Baltimore region) multimodal transportation network. The case study results show that VEP can be used as a tool for emission reduction in transportation planning and policy.
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    Assessing the impact of urban form measures in nonwork trip mode choice after controlling for demographic and level-of-service effects
    (2003) Rajamani, Jayanthi; Bhat, Chandra R.; Handy, Susan; Knaap, Gerritt; Song, Yan
    The relationship between travel behavior and the local built environment continues to be a contentious issue, despite several research efforts in the area. The current paper investigates the significance and explanatory power of a variety of urban form measures on nonwork activity travel mode choice. The travel data used for analysis is the 1995 Portland Metropolitan Activity Survey conducted by Portland Metro. The database on the local built environment was developed by Song (2002) and includes a more extensive set of variables than previous studies that have examined the relationship between travel behavior and the local built environment using the Portland data. A multinomial logit mode choice model results indicate that higher residential densities and mixed-uses promote walking behavior for nonwork activities.
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    Internally Connected, No Commercial, With a Touch of Open Space: The Neighborhoods of New Homes in the Portland Metropolitan Area
    (2004) Song, Yan; Knaap, Gerrit
    For many years, neighborhoods have been classified as either “suburban” or “traditional.” But new homes today are built in many different types of neighborhoods with many different design features. In this paper, we develop a quantitative method for classifying the neighborhoods of new homes in the Portland metropolitan area. We proceed in three steps. First we measure urban form attributes of neighborhoods around newly developed homes. We then use factor analysis to identify a small set of factors that capture essential differences in urban form. Finally we use cluster analysis on these factor scores to identify distinctly different neighborhood types. Applying these methods to neighborhoods around new single family homes in the metropolitan Portland, Oregon, we are able to identify eight factors of urban form and six neighborhood types. We then show that most new single family homes in metropolitan Portland are built in new suburban neighborhoods but a substantial portion is occurring in traditional urban neighborhoods.
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    The Impact of Employer Attitude to Green Commuting Plans on Reducing Car Driving: A Mixed Method Analysis
    (2014) Liu, Chao; Ding, Chuan; Lin, Yaoyu; Wang, Yaowu
    The empirical data were selected from Washington-Baltimore Regional Household Travel Survey in 2007-2008, including all the trips from home to workplace during the morning hours. The model parameters were estimated using the simultaneous estimation approach and the integrated model turns out to be superior to the traditional multinomial logit (MNL) model accounting for the impact of employer attitudes towards green commuting. The direct and indirect effects of socio-demographic attributes and employer attitudes towards green commuting were estimated. Through the structural equation modelling with mediating variable, this approach confirmed the intermediary nature of car ownership in the choice process.
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    Thinking Outside the Bus
    (2012) Iseki, Hiroyuki; Smart, Michael; Yoh, Allison; Taylor, Brian D.
    This is a short, accessible article that provides a synopsis of findings from the research titled “Tool Development to Evaluate the Performance of Intermodal Connectivity (EPIC)” in collaboration with UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies. This research has examined various factors that can substantially influence transit users’ perception of service quality at bus stops and trains stations, and also what factors transit managers think important to improve customers' satisfaction. Recently, the project has developed a tool for transit agencies to identify service quality improvements at transit facilities, which has been presented in the American Planning Association (APA) National Planning Conference in Los Angeles, April, 2012. Publications related to this research are listed under " FURTHER READING" on page 15.
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    Economies of Scale in Wastewater Treatment and Planning for Urban Growth
    (2003) Hopkins, Lewis; Knaap, Gerrit; Xiaohuan, Xu
    Can urban growth patterns take advantage of economies of scale in infrastructure by relying on fewer and larger treatment plants? Estimates of potential cost savings from alternative wastewater treatment consolidation strategies for the metropolitan Chicago region suggest that the timing of consolidation is important. Carefully timed consolidation, even consolidation that occurs after development has occurred, might yield present value savings on the order of $170 million in capital costs. These potential savings are large enough that such strategies should be considered when planning for metropolitan growth.
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    A Multiobjective Optimization Approach to Smart Growth in Land Development
    (2010) Faria, Jose; Gabriel, Steven; Moglen, Glenn
    In this paper we describe a multiobjective optimization model of "Smart Growth" applied to land development in Montgomery County, Maryland. The term "Smart Growth" is generally meant to describe those land development strategies which do not result in urban sprawl, however the term is somewhat open to interpretation. The multiobjective aspects arise when considering the conflicting interests of the various stakeholders involved: the government planner, the environmentalist, the conservationist, and the land developer. We present a formulation, which employs linear and convex quadratic objective functions for the stakeholders that are subject to polyhedral and binary constraints. As such, the resulting optimization problems are convex, quadratic mixed integer programs which are known to be NP-complete (Mansini and Speranza, 1999). We report numerical results with this model and present these results using a geographic information system (GIS).
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    The Contagion Effect of Neighboring Foreclosures on Own Foreclosures
    (2010) Lawley, Chad; Towe, Charles
    In this paper, we examine a highly localized contagion effect of foreclosures and find strong evidence that social interactions influence the decision to foreclose. We utilize a hazard model and a unique spatially explicit dataset documenting parcel level residential foreclosures in Maryland for the years 2006 through 2009. We combine these data with tax and assessment data, loan data, Census, and unemployment data. These data allow us to control for important factors influencing the likelihood of foreclosure within a given community, including the prevalence of subprime loans and the distribution of socioeconomic characteristics. Additionally, we use the tax data to construct variables describing individual homes, surrounding homes, and community. These variables include structural characteristics of houses, their price history, and length of ownership.
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    Information Technology in the 1990s: More Footloose or More Location-bound?
    (2002) Sohn, Jungyul
    This paper examines if information technology has worked towards dispersion or concentration of economic activities in two steps of analysis. The first analysis using locational Gini coefficient and Moran’s I focuses on distribution of the urban area as a whole and finds that dispersion was prominent over the years. The second analysis using Gi* statistic as the dependent variable in the regression model, however, shows that the technology has induced more concentration rather than dispersion at an intrametropolitan scale, reflecting that there is a discrepancy in the results of the two analyses depending on the spatial scale of the analysis.
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    Determinants and Effects on Property Values of Participation in Voluntary Cleanup Programs: The Case of Colorado
    (2005) Alberini, Anna
    State Voluntary Cleanup Programs (VCPs) were established starting in the 1990s to encourage the environmental remediation and redevelopment of contaminated properties. These programs typically offer liability relief, subsidies and other regulatory incentives in exchange for site cleanup. This paper asks three questions: First, what type of properties are attracted to voluntary cleanup programs? Second, what is the interaction between these state programs and other incentives for remediation and economic development, such as Enterprise Zone and Brownfield Zone designations? Third, what is the effect of participation in the VCP on property values? We use data from Colorado’s VCP to answer these questions. We find that most of the properties enrolled in this program were not previously listed on EPA’s contaminated site registries, and that most applicants seek to obtain directly a “no further action” determination without undergoing remediation. The main determinants of participation are the size of the parcel and whether the surrounding land use is primarily residential, while other incentives have little effect. Properties with confirmed contamination sell at a 47% discount relative to comparable uncontaminated parcels, and participation tends to raise the property price, but this latter effect is not statistically significant. Taken together, these findings suggest that the participating properties are those with high development potential, and hint at the possibility that owners or developers may be seeking to obtain a clean bill of health from the State with only minimal or no cleanup efforts. Were these findings confirmed with data from other states, they would raise doubts about the effectiveness of voluntary programs in encouraging remediation and their usefulness in reversing some of the undesired effects of the Superfund legislation.
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    A functional integrated land use-transportation model for analyzing transportation impacts in the Maryland-Washington, DC Region
    (2011) Mishra, Sabyasachee; Ye, Xin; Ducca, Fred; Knaap, Gerrit
    The Maryland-Washington, DC region has been experiencing significant land-use changes and changes in local and regional travel patterns due to increasing growth and sprawl. The region’s highway and transit networks regularly experience severe congestion levels. Before proceeding with plans to build new transportation infrastructure to address this expanding demand for travel, a critical question is how future land use will affect the regional transportation system. This article investigates how an integrated land-use and transportation model can address this question. A base year and two horizon-year land use-transport scenarios are analyzed. The horizon-year scenarios are: (1) business as usual (BAU) and (2) high gasoline prices (HGP). The scenarios developed through the land-use model are derived from a three-stage top-down approach: (a) at the state level, (b) at the county level, and (c) at the statewide modeling zone (SMZ) level that reflects economic impacts on the region. The transportation model, the Maryland Statewide Transport Model (MSTM), is an integrated land use-transportation model, capable of reflecting development and travel patterns in the region. The model includes all of Maryland, Washington, DC, and Delaware, and portions of southern Pennsylvania, northern Virginia, New Jersey, and West Virginia. The neighboring states are included to reflect the entering, exiting, and through trips in the region. The MSTM is a four-step travel-demand model with input provided by the alternative land-use scenarios, designed to produce link-level assignment results for four daily time periods, nineteen trip purposes, and eleven modes of travel. This article presents preliminary results of the land use-transportation model. The long-distance passenger and commodity-travel models are at the development stage and are not included in the results. The analyses of the land use-transport scenarios reveal insights to the region’s travel patterns in terms of the congestion level and the shift of travel as per land-use changes. The model is a useful tool for analyzing future land-use and transportation impacts in the region.