No More Freeways: Urban Land Use Transportation Dynamics Without Freeway Capacity Expansion

Observations of the various limitations of freeway capacity expansion have led to a provocative planning and policy question – What if we completely stop building additional freeway capacity. From a theoretical perspective, as a freeway transportation network matures, there exists a saturation point beyond which any additional freeway capacity would only be counterproductive from a welfare point of view, and worsen the existing urban transportation problems. Traditional benefit/cost analysis of individual freeway capacity expansion projects often ignores long-term induced demand and land use changes and does not represent a systems approach to this important theoretical issue. From a practical perspective, a no-more-freeway policy can relieve transportation funds for other potentially more effective usages, such as improving urban arterial street system, improving transit level of service and coverage, implementing demand management and pricing strategies, and facilitating more efficient land use patterns (e.g. high density in-fill and transit-oriented developments). This research answers the following critical land use-transportation planning questions. Improved knowledge on these issues should benefit planers and decision-makers who pursue mobility and sustainability objectives and have the power to shape future cities. (1). Under what conditions will freeway capacity expansion become counterproductive to urban planning objectives (where is the saturation point)? (2). How will land use and transportation evolve under a “No-More-Freeway” policy? (3). What are the implications of such a policy on congestion, land use efficiency, transportation finance, and social welfare? (4). What is the impact of a less restrictive “No-More-Freeway” policy that only allows private-section freeway investments and relieves public-section freeway investments for other compelling transportation needs. The analysis in this project builds upon a modeling tool, ABSOLUTE, developed by the P.I. in previous research projects. ABSOLUTE is an Agent-Based Simulator Of Land Use-Transportation Evolution, which translates planning policies such as the “No-More- Freeway” policy into alternative urban growth paths and possibly urban growth equilibria (land use and transportation system equilibria). Due to the “Small Start” nature of this OTREC project, the analysis focuses primarily on stylized urban areas, and empirical analysis of the “No-More-Freeway” policy is only conducted for one policy scenario on the Twin Cities, MN, area.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 120p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01333182
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: OTREC-RR-11-02
  • Contract Numbers: 2008-163
  • Files: UTC, NTL, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Mar 21 2011 2:13PM