Communities throughout the nation face a variety of interconnected transportation, livability, and sustainability challenges that can only be effectively addressed through regional planning collaboration. These challenges are particularly pressing in gateway and natural amenity region communities throughout the U.S. Mountain West. This project engaged graduate students in developing curricular materials to teach planning students, professional planners, and community-members (1) the core concepts and skills of regional collaborative transportation and land use planning and (2) about the unique transportation and planning related challenges and opportunities in gateway and natural amenity region communities.
It did so through an applied graduate-level studio course taught in fall 2016 and fall 2017, as well as through leveraging the ongoing Zion Regional Collaborative. The Zion Regional Collaborative is a collaborative regional planning effort aimed at enhancing livability and promoting more sustainable transportation and land-use decision making along Utah State Route 9, the main transportation corridor leading to Zion National Park in southern Utah. Through using this effort as a laboratory, faculty and graduate students learned about and studied real-world efforts to support collaborative regional transportation and land use planning. Engaging students in the Zion Regional Collaborative also provided them an opportunity to gain experience with facilitation, collaborative processes, and key planning and transportation challenges in gateway and natural amenity communities.
Building on what they learned from the Zion Regional Collaborative, as well as literature reviews, background readings, and insights from experts, graduate students in the studio course developed two parallel toolkits. The first toolkit was designed to teach graduate and undergraduate students the theory and practice of collaborative regional transportation and land use planning, particularly in gateway and natural amenity communities, via a set of role-play simulations, scenarios, and teaching guidelines. The second toolkit is aimed at community members and professionals, providing a set of tools and resources to assist gateway and natural amenity region communities in addressing their key transportation, land use, and planning-related challenges and opportunities. All tools developed via this project are freely available, and will be made available online. This project resulted in a number of additional impacts and activities, ranging from providing valuable professional opportunities for graduate students to catalyzing collaborative regional planning efforts elsewhere; these additional impacts and activities are detailed in this report.