Strategic Design and Policy for Improving the Livability and Multimodal Use of U.S. Urban Arterials and Commercial Highways

A walkable solution to the ubiquitous and unlivable characteristics of urban arterials and commercial highways in the United States is one of the most difficult problems facing urban designers and transportation planners, and remains a “wicked problem” with no agreed solution. These arterials and commercial highways are generally characterized by the following: overdesigned street widths, high traffic, street-front surface parking lots, drive-through retail outlets, strip mall shopping and big box centers, underdeveloped pedestrian amenities, and single-mode vehicular dependence. This educational transfer grant from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities helped in part to fund case study travel for a University of Utah graduate urban design studio to better understand the conditions of positive exemplar urban arterials in nine North American cities. Research Strategy: This study uses the techniques of urban morphology to analyze and classify the specific form of these places. Findings: In a detailed study of nine different places along arterials in the Salt Lake Valley, the authors identified four general “types” of arterial development. In a second-level research exercise focusing on two-mile segments of urban arterial in 10 cities regionally distributed across the United State, these development types were expanded to eight different morphological urban arterial types. This review of current practice suggests that these types require very different planning strategies to mitigate their problems. Take-away for practice: Arterial development is problematic, but arterials, which seem alike, actually have very different formal characteristics, which require different planning strategies to achieve better walkability and design.

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  • Summary URL:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • This research was sponsored by the U.S. Department of Transportation, University Transportation Centers Program.
  • Corporate Authors:

    University of Utah, Salt Lake City

    Department of City and Metropolitan Planning, 375 South 1530 East
    Salt Lake City, UT  United States  84112

    National Institute for Transportation and Communities

    Portland State University
    P.O. Box 751
    Portland, OR  United States  97207

    Research and Innovative Technology Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  United States  20590
  • Authors:
    • Larice, Michael
    • Scheer, Brenda
  • Publication Date: 2016-7


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Digital/other
  • Edition: Final Report
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; Maps; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 51p

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01641593
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: NITC-ED-613, Report No. 54502472
  • Created Date: Jul 24 2017 4:46PM