The development of the contemporary transportation systems is crucial for the effective economic development of the US as well as for the environment protection. In this regard, the development of the smart growth transportation system is particularly prospective in terms of the development of environment-friendly and economically efficient transportation systems. State agencies support the development of smart growth transportation systems both at the state and federal level. For instance, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has introduced a set of policies and programs intended to protect and preserve valuable cultural and natural resources in terms of the smart growth . At the local level, the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) supports the development of the smart growth transportation system and the department has already implemented the Smart Planning Program . In such a way, the federal and state agencies recognize the importance of the development of the smart growth transportation system because such system has a number of benefits not only in terms of environment protection but also in terms of economic development and development of local communities.
The development of the transportation system from the 1950s to the 1980s was apparently ineffective because it was focused entirely on the development of highways, which have proved their inefficiency in the course of time. To put it more precisely, the development of the network of highways contributed to the improvement of the transit transportation but such improvement had a short-run effect. In fact, soon after the construction of a highway, the traffic grew consistently in the highway because the local population used the highway as what used to be an easy and fast way to get to their destination with the minimal loss of time and money. However, steadily the traffic grew consistently and the highway became inefficient not only for the local transportation but also for the transit transport. As a result, new highways have to be built but the construction of highways affected consistently the local area and local community because the development of the local community in the area close to highways was impossible. Therefore, the vast area was lost because of highways, which could not cope with the high level of traffic and eased the density of traffic for a short time only. In fact, highways were constructed to link together different parts of the country and their construction was costly. In this regard, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the cost of construction of highways failed to outweigh its benefits, whereas the negative environmental effect of highways deteriorated the situation in local communities located close to highways consistently. As a result, the need in the development of the totally new approach to the development of the transportation system and infrastructure became obvious.
In such a context, the concept of a “smart growth” transportation system emerged. In fact, the smart growth transportation system could offset problems set by the single-minded highways, which increased the traffic capacity but failed to provide local communities with any positive effects. Moreover, they deteriorated consistently the environmental situation in local communities, whereas their economic effect is also arguable . Instead, the smart growth transportation system can tackle problems raised by highways effectively.
On the other hand, it is worth mentioning the fact that the smart growth transportation system cannot replace highways because the emergence of highways led to irrevocable changes in local communities and areas, where highways were constructed. Instead, the smart growth transportation system can be effective, if it applied in new areas that are in the course of the construction and development. In fact, the smart growth transportation system stands on the ground of the effective and careful planning of the construction of the transportation system. Unlike highways, which were mainly focused on the increase of the transit capacity and traffic capacity at large, the smart growth transportation system is focused on the balanced development of local communities along with the maintenance of the transit capacity of the transportation system. In such a way, the smart growth transportation system contributes to the development of local communities and allows to maintain the high level of the transit traffic.
In addition, the development and construction of the smart growth transportation system takes into consideration the long-term perspective of the development of local communities and the transportation system at large. In stark contrast to highways, which were constructed to meet the current needs and to increase the transit and traffic capacity in target areas, the smart growth transportation system allows the steady, long-run development of local communities and the transportation system. In addition, the smart growth transportation system is beneficial for the local communities because it is pedestrian- and bicycle-friendly; it focuses on the economic development of local communities and it increases the transit capacity that facilitates the economic development of local communities; it improves the environmental situation in local communities. The latter is particularly important because the smart growth transportation system allows the local population to use pedestrian and bicycle zones to move fast and easy, instead of using cars, whereas the transit transport is remote from the local community to minimize its negative effect on the local environment. Hence, advantages of the smart growth transportation system are obvious and they outweigh the single-minded focus of highway development.
Traditionally, congestion is considered to be bad because it provokes the deterioration of the traffic flow and slows downs the speed of transit as well as the transit capacity at large. On the other hand, such a view on congestion is superficial and it does not reveal the full potential of congestion. As the matter of fact, congestion may be quite useful, especially in terms of the development of a smart growth transportation system and in terms of the further development of transportation system, infrastructure and urban areas at large. What is meant here is the fact that congestions allow to reveal weak points in the existing transportation system and to forecast the development of new problems on the ground of the analysis of congestions.
In addition, the in-depth analysis of congestion allows to find out plausible and effective ways of solution of existing traffic problems as well as problems of local communities at large. To put it more precisely, congestion emerges under the impact of multiple factors. The analysis of congestions reveals the factors contributing to the creation of congestion. In such a situation, it is possible to find out causes of congestion. When causes of congestion are clear, it is possible to look for possible solutions to prevent congestion in the future or in a new transportation system. In this regard, it is important to take into consideration several options, which may be applied to a transportation system and local community to avoid congestion. For instance, it is possible to shift work hours in local communities to decrease the traffic flow or to limit the transit in the local area during the rush hour. The latter will need the construction of special areas where the transit transport can stay and wait till the time limit ends up. Nevertheless, such solutions can work but they have to be tested in existing transportation systems. If congestion decreases in response to measures undertaken by the local authorities, the successful measures or measures that have proved to be the most efficient can be implemented not only in the particular, tested transportation system but in other existing and new transportation systems and local communities. In such a way, congestion can be very useful in terms of the improvement of existing transportation systems and in regard to the development of new, more efficient transportation systems.
Furthermore, specialists place emphasis on the fact that congestion should be viewed as warnings to the urban and transportation development because they emerge in response or, to put it more precisely, as consequences of some problems existing in the transportation system or local area. In this regard, it is extremely important to respond fast and adequately in case of emergence of some problems. Instead, ignorance of congestion will lead to the consistent deterioration of the situation in the transportation system and local area because congestion is likely to spread and it will occur more and more frequently. In such a situation, the adequate response to congestion can help to improve the transit capacity and traffic capacity as well as to improve the situation in local community. Therefore, congestion serves as a sort of alarm, which warns the community and authorities about existing risks and threats imposed on the community by the transportation system.
Finally, specialists argue that congestion contributes to the increase of the public attention to transportation problems and, what is more, it can contribute to the change of the public to the transport to the extent that they can refuse from using their vehicles and choose the public transport. In fact, congestion involves a large number of people and the public grows more concerned with the transportation system and its problems the more frequently congestion occurs. Therefore, as the public attention to the problem grows, the public pushes on the local authorities to undertake measures which can improve the current situation to minimize the risk of congestion. In addition, people grow conscious of their personal impact on the current situation in the transportation and environment and their personal contribution in the deterioration of the environmental situation and emergence of congestion. As a result, the public changes its attitude to transport and forces the authorities to introduce efficient policies, which can solve the existing problems in the transportation system. In such a way, congestion can help to create successful transportation programs.
In actuality, transit plays an important part in the functioning of the transportation system and, what is more, transit has a significant impact on the development of local communities. At this point, specialists argue that transit often has negative impact on the environment because it increases CO2 emissions and the pollution of the environment by greenhouse gas emissions. In such a situation, the local community suffers from the consistent deterioration of the environment.
On the other hand, many specialists insist on the fact that transit can have a positive impact on the development of local communities and on place-making in particular. What is meant here is the fact that transit traditionally accompanies the development of trade and business in areas located close to the major transit flows. In such a way, local communities can benefit from the development of transit.
However, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that transit can be beneficial for the economic development on the condition of the effective place-making. The latter means that transit should contribute to and stimulate the economic growth in local communities through the stimulation of business activities in local areas. In such a way, local communities should be involved in transit via business activities, which can bring benefit to the local population and stimulate further business activities within local communities.
Furthermore, the development of transit often contributes to the development of the infrastructure to maintain the existing transportation system and related areas. In such a way, the increase of transit can increase the demand on the labor force as well as increase in business activities to meet the growing demand from the part of transit. In addition, some areas become strategically important as transit centers where major trade routes intersect. These areas are strategically important and particularly beneficial for the development of business. In fact, the development of transit in these areas may need the construction of storage facilities as well as the development of hotel services because people travelling for a long distance need the place, where they can stop and have a rest, to stay for a night, to dine, and so on. Hence, the local community can meet these demands but it needs to develop the facilities and infrastructure that can meet the existing demand. Naturally, the increase or decrease in demand will have the respective effect on the economic development of the local community, i.e. the increase of demand through the increase of transit will increase economic activities in the local area and, on the contrary, the decrease of demand because of decrease of the transit will lead to the slowdown of the economic activities in the local community. In this regard, the stability is crucial for the normal economic development of local communities because substantial changes, such as unexpected downturns can ruin local communities, especially if they are dependent on transit because of the past rise in transit. In fact, such communities may face substantial economic problems because the rise of transit made the local community accustomed to the growth of transit and the local population developed business counting on the steady growth of transit. However, if the transit drops unexpectedly, the economy of the local community tends to slow down too or, what is more, it can face a profound recession because local businesses, being oriented on transit, will suffer from considerable losses and a large part of the population is likely to suffer from unemployment. Nevertheless, such unexpected downturns can occur in any industry but the main point is that transit can have a significant impact on the economic development of local communities as well as it may have a significant impact on the elaboration of economic strategies in national terms. For instance, transit in national terms will affect not only local communities but also the national economy at large, although its impact may be less significant than the impact on local communities.
In such a way, benefits of the development of smart growth transportation system are obvious. However, the development of the smart growth transportation system by private investors or by local communities solely is impossible without the support of the state or federal agencies. Obviously, the construction of a highway using principles and standards of the smart growth transportation system needs the support at the federal level. In such a situation, the assistance of the FHWA may be particularly helpful because the FHWA can provide the support to highway developers and to control the quality of the construction respectively to existing norms and standards. At the same time, the FHWA is also interested in private investors, who can invest their funds into the development of the smart growth transportation system. As a result, their mutual work and cooperation can help to develop the smart transportation system at the federal level.
At the state level, such programs as the Smart Planning Program developed by NYSDOT are particularly effective, especially when they are applied in large metropolitan areas. The New York City and the State of New York are particularly vulnerable to the negative impact of the transportation system on the local environment . On the other hand, the effective transportation system is vitally important for the city and the state economy because the transportation system provides the New York City and the State of New York with the stable supply of essential products and transfer of people.
Thus, taking into account all above mentioned, it is important to place emphasis on the fact that the smart growth transportation system opens new opportunities for the economic development at the state and federal level. At the same time, the smart growth transportation system decreases substantially the negative impact of traffic on the environment. In addition, the smart growth transportation system has a positive effect on the development of local communities. In such a situation many states, such as the State of New York, support the development of their smart growth transportation systems to improve the quality of life in local communities. At the same time, the development of the smart growth transportation system has support of federal agencies, including the FHWA. Such support is extremely important for the development of federal programs of support and development of the smart growth transportation systems.
Baucus, M. “Environmental Technology and the Economy.” EPA Journal 19, no. 3, July 1993: 36–37.
Erickson, B. (ed.) Call to Action: Handbook for Ecology, Peace, and Justice. San Francisco Sierra Club Books, 1990.
NYSDOT. Smart Planning. 2011. Retrieved on December 13, 2011 from https://www.dot.ny.gov/programs/smart-planning
Schneiderman, R. Technology Lost: Hype and Reality in the Digital Age. New York: Touchstone, 2002.
Smart Growth and FHWA. 2011. Retrieved on December 13, 2011 from http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/planning/sgindex.htm