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Welcome

SMARTRAQ is a research program designed to provide the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Transit Administration, and the Georgia Department of Transportation with technical and policy evaluation tools to prepare future Regional Transportation Plans. Our theme is to empower the Atlanta Region in its efforts to effectively address land use, travel behavior, and air quality relationships critical to the future economic and physical health of area residents. This effort will be directly linked with the Atlanta Regional Commission’s transportation planning and decision making process.

Furthermore, this research program will be guided by a Task Force comprised of individuals from a variety of
stake-holder organizations including FHWA, EPA, ARC, GDOT, CDC, DNR, NRDC, Turner Foundation, and the Georgians for Transportation Alternatives. This committee will provide guidance and direction throughout the course of the effort. Given current air quality conditions in the Atlanta Region, we recognize the critical need (and opportunity) to actively engage the public, elected officials, and the development community in the nearer term.

While this research program has a long-term focus, other efforts will also be placed on short-term milestones in the current interim RTP process. Complimentary efforts to address planning issues within the current RTP process and improve the understanding of travel behavior are currently underway at Georgia Tech. These efforts focus on existing ARC travel data and data collection methods, and will provide useful findings relating household emissions with urban form that will be meaningful in the near term.

Land use impacts on travel demand and vehicle emissions is emerging as a topic of major interest as several regions around the nation struggle to demonstrate conformance with the requirements of the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 (CAAA). Aspects of land use including residential and employment density, intermixing of uses, and street connectivity (in addition to demographic factors) have been found to be predictors of mode choice, VMT, VHT, cold start trip generation, and mean trip speed (Cambridge Systematics (LUTRAQ), 1992; Cervero, 1988; Cervero, 1993; Ewing, et al, 1995; Frank and Pivo, 1995; Frank and Stone, 1997; Holtzclaw, 1994; Kockelman, 1996; Moudon, et al, 1997; Newman and Kenworthy, 1989).

The argument that land use is an important predictor of mobile sources is further bolstered by recent studies in
Seattle and Atlanta that directly associate vehicle emissions per household with land use. This research documented that per capita generation of oxides of nitrogen (NOx), an important precursor to the formation of ozone, is a function of employment density, street grid connectivity, and jobs housing balance when household size, income, and vehicle ownership are held constant (Frank and Stone, 1998). The Seattle study concluded that a meaningful reduction in the generation of NOx could be achieved through moderate changes in land use and journey to work travel choice. In Seattle, we found a 9.2% reduction in the generation of NOx could be achieved through a 20% increase in the number of city blocks per hectare, a 16% increase in jobs per acre, and shaving three vehicle miles of travel per household for the journey to work (Frank and Stone, 1998).

While our analysis suggests these land use variables effect the generation of NOx, we also found other land use
factors to be critical. Overall, our findings indicate the following:

To effectively alter current trends in travel behavior; a regional land use strategy will need to embrace policies that foster increased compactness, intermixing of uses, connectivity, and walkability at both places of residence and employment. Moreover, such a land use strategy will need to be supported through multi-modal transportation investment in existing urbanized areas.

Key Players:

Dr. Lawrence D. Frank, Principal Investigator
City Planning Program
http://murmur.arch.gatech.edu/~lfrank/
larry.frank@arch.gatech.edu

Dr. Simon Washington, Co-Principal Investigator
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
http://www.ce.gatech.edu/~swashing/
simon.washington@ce.gatech.edu

Dr. Randall Guensler, Investigator
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering
http://www.ce.gatech.edu/~rguensle/
randall.guensler@ce.gatech.edu

Dr. William Bachman, Investigator
School of Civil and Environmental Engineering

Dr. Stephen P. French, Investigator
City Planning Program
http://murmur.arch.gatech.edu/cp/faculty/french.html
steve.french@arch.gatech.edu

Dr. Catherine Ross, Investigator
City Planning Program
http://murmur.arch.gatech.edu/cp/faculty/ross.html
catherine.ross@arch.gatech.edu

Project Partners

The Georgia Department of Transportation
http://www.dot.state.ga.us/

The Federal Highway Administration
http://www.dot.gov/

The Atlanta Regional Commission
http://www.atlreg.com/

The Environmental Protection Agency
http://www.epa.gov/

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
http://www.cdc.gov/

The Federal Transit Administration
http://www.dot.gov/

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Last updated: April 15, 1999.