Principal Investigator: Keith Bartholomew, University of Utah
Learn more about this research by viewing the one-page Project Brief, related products and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

New laws in California and Oregon—California’s Sustainable Communities and Climate Protection Act (SB 375) and the Oregon Sustainable Transportation Initiative (SB 1059)—have made them the first states in the nation to try and reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions using the transportation planning process.

A new NITC report coauthored by Keith Bartholomew and David Proffitt of the University of Utah evaluates how these pioneering laws have changed local planning processes in each state. Under these laws, metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) must include climate goals in their regional transportation plans; coordinating land use and transportation infrastructure in a way that aims at reducing per capita GHG emissions.

"The MPOs have to show how, in the future, they could accomodate population growth, new housing and new...

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Our National Institute for Transportation & Communities (NITC) research program has awarded grant funding for a new series of Small Starts projects.

Small Starts grants assist researchers who are interested in transportation but have not yet had an opportunity to undertake a small project—$15,000 in funding or less—that supports NITC's theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation choices to foster livable communities.

The latest projects selected by NITC's executive committee support that theme in exploring livable streets, multimodal safety and transportation efficiency.

The six newly funded projects are:

  • Is There a "Buy Local" Case for Lower Travel Speeds? Testing Differences in Driver Recognition of Local Versus National Retail at Different Travel Speeds—Jonathan Bean and Arlie Adkins, University of Arizona (Full Proposal)
  • How Will Autonomous Vehicles Change Local Government Budgeting and Finance? A Case Study of Solid Waste, Drop-off/Pick-up Zones, and Parking—Benjamin Clark, University of Oregon (...
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Principal Investigator: Reid Ewing, University of Utah
Learn more about this research by viewing the two-page Project Brief, related presentations, and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

A new report from the University of Utah uses data to settle a debate that has been ongoing among transportation researchers since the 1990s: what are the effects of compact development on traffic congestion?

One camp argues that dense, compact development with a mixture of land uses will ultimately relieve congestion by encouraging fewer auto trips. On the opposite side, proponents of highway-induced, sprawling development argue that sprawl decreases congestion by funneling traffic away from dense areas, acting as a "traffic safety valve."

Led by Reid Ewing of the University of Utah and Shima Hamidi of the University of Texas at Arlington, this NITC study sought to address the question through cross sectional data. So which of these forms of urban development is better at reducing area-wide traffic congestion?

Surprisingly, neither.

Ewing and Hamidi arrived at the conclusion that development density—whether compact...

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Principal InvestigatorIvis Garcia, University of Utah
Learn more about this research by viewing the related presentations and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Students in the University of Utah’s Westside Studio investigated how to improve access to downtown from the west side of Salt Lake City.

Led by Ivis Garcia, the project's goal was to learn from residents about their use of an existing multi-use path, the Jordan Park River Trail, and to help enhance the connection between residents living near the trail and the downtown area on the river's east side.

Students surveyed 300 residents and conducted focus groups, which revealed that many area residents either didn't know about the trail or didn't perceive it as a safe place to walk. Local community leaders also visited the class and shared their expertise with students.

"A lot of elements of the course were around teaching community engagement and action," Garcia said.

In order to enhance users'...

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Principal Investigator: Brenda Scheer, University of Utah
Learn more about this research by viewing the related presentations and the full Final Report on the Project Overview page.

Transit-oriented development, or TOD, could be the “poster child” for sustainable urban development. It concentrates land uses, including commercial and multi-family housing, near transit stations so as to reduce car dependency and increase ridership. The benefits are manifold; increased community health, positive economic impacts, less harm to the environment and potentially greater social equity.

But what about affordability? In exchange for all these benefits, do TOD residents spend more money on transportation?

A new NITC ...

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TREC’s NITC program has made $500,000 available for grants to eligible researchers through its 2017 general research request for proposals. The RFP is the first since the NITC program expanded to include the University of Arizona and University of Texas at Arlington.

All proposals must contribute to the NITC theme, improving mobility of people and goods to build strong communities, and focus on transportation. They must also show strong potential to move transportation research into practice, inform other researchers, shape national and international conversations on transportation research, and respond to the needs of practitioners and policymakers.

Projects are capped at $100,000, and we encourage PIs to propose smaller projects. Priority is given to projects that are collaborative, multi-disciplinary, multi-campus and support the development of untenured tenure-track transportation faculty.

Key Dates

  •     Abstracts due: April 14, 2017
  •     Proposal due: May 15, 2017
  •     Peer reviews: June 2017
  •     Project Selection, Awards, and Task Orders: July-August 2017
  •     Projects begin: Sept 2017

Eligibility

Only eligible faculty members and research faculty from Portland State University, University of Oregon, Oregon Institute of Technology, University of Utah, University of...

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The executive committee of the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, or NITC, program has selected a third round of research, education, and technology transfer projects for funding. This grant is part of the University Transportation Center (UTC) program funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Office of Research and Technology, and is a partnership between Portland State University, the University of Oregon, the Oregon Institute of Technology, and the University of Utah. The committee chose eight projects, totaling $800,000, under the NITC theme of safe, healthy and sustainable transportation to foster livable communities. 
 
The projects are national in scope and support innovations in priority areas including public transit and active transportation. 
 
Projects selected include:
  • An analysis of the effects of commuter rail on population deconcentration.
  • A look into prioritizing pedestrians at signalized intersections.
  • A study of cyclist-vehicle interaction.
  • An evaluation of an eco-driving intervention.
The eight projects were chosen from among 20 proposals with...
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For the first time, researchers have shown that installing light rail on an existing travel corridor not only gets people out of their cars, but reduces congestion and air pollution.

In the study, planners at the University of Utah measured impacts of a new light rail line in Salt Lake City (University Line) on an existing major thoroughfare (400/500 South). Their analysis showed that traffic near the University has fallen to levels not seen since the 1980s, even as the number of students, faculty and staff at the university has increased, and the commercial district along the corridor has expanded.

"This is the first study to document important effects of light rail transit on traffic volumes,” said Reid Ewing, professor of city and metropolitan planning at the University of Utah and lead author on the study. “Since the University TRAX line opened, there has been increased development in the 400/500 South travel corridor, yet traffic on the street has actually declined. Our calculations show that without the University TRAX line, there would be at least 7,300 more cars per day on 400/500 South, and possibly as many as 21,700 additional cars. The line avoids gridlock, as well as saves an additional 13 tons of toxic air pollutants. This is important knowledge for shaping future transportation policies.”

Andrew Gruber, executive director of the...

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Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.

In transit-oriented development, planners typically focus on the neighborhood within a quarter of a mile of a transit stop.

Housing and commercial developments within this "walkable zone" are thought to be the ones primarily affected by, or dependent on, the transit stop.

New research from the University of Utah expands the traditional one-quarter-mile distance away from transit stops to a broader radius of about one and one-quarter mile from a stop.

The project's principal investigator, Susan Petheram, led a team of researchers who used the Salt Lake County assessor's database to analyze property values surrounding light rail stops. Petheram is a NITC doctoral dissertation fellow and the research stems from her dissertation.

"We were seeing a certain negative impact [on property values] right around the core station area for single family homes," Petheram said. Slightly farther out from the...

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Note: In advance of the Transportation Research Board's annual meeting, the biggest forum on the transportation research calendar, OTREC.us is profiling some of the researchers who will present their work.

Steven Farber, of the University of Utah, is conducting research for the Utah Transit Authority (UTA) surrounding its potential move to a distance-based fare system.
Typically, transit fares are a flat fee based on a given window of time: riders may pay $2.50 to ride anywhere they wish within a two-hour period, for example.
This system can negatively impact low-income populations, who as a general rule tend to travel shorter distances than people in higher income brackets. In a flat fare system, many low-income riders end up subsidizing the longer trips of wealthier riders.
 
The UTA is considering changing its fares to a distance-based system, wherein riders would pay a fee determined by how far they travel.
Farber, along with co-investigators Keith Bartholomew and Xiao Li of the University of Utah, Antonio Páez of McMaster University, and Khandker M. Nurul Habib of the University of Toronto, conducted a spatial analysis of data from the Utah Household Travel Survey collected in Spring 2012.
They were searching specifically for...
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