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Panel Discussion Potential Solutions to Challenges Kevin E. Heanue, Consultant (Moderator) Anne Canby, Surface Transportation Policy Project John Horsley, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Hal Kassoff, Parsons Brinckerhoff John Pucher, Rutgers University G. Alexander Taft, Association of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (retired) O n the second day of the conference, a round- Among other approaches are broadening the trans- table discussion was held by a distinguished portation perspective to encompass desired outcomes in panel. The participants discussed potential solu- nontransportation areas as well as transportation, explic- tions to the sustainability challenge. itly including strategies to reduce accident rates and fatal- Anne Canby indicated that her view of sustainability ities and reward those who reduce accidents, and includes the minimization of environmental degrada- changing the way priorities are set to incorporate urban tion, the minimization of energy consumption, the revitalization and minimization of land consumption. strengthening of communities and their residents to self- John Horsley summarized the situation facing state sufficiency, and the reduction of public and personal departments of transportation (DOTs). State DOTs do health risks from transportation. Sustainability requires not have the resources to meet requested mobility needs. examining transportation in a broader context that gets They are unable to buy right-of-way because it is beyond a project perspective. already developed, they cannot build the network of Approaches for redirecting transportation investment highways that the current development pattern expects toward sustainable objectives were outlined. Approaches of them, and they cannot generate the resources to dealing specifically with the planning process included maintain the existing network. the creation of valid planning processes in state highway Advocacy for sustainable transportation must come agencies; the expansion of the long-range planning from the grass roots. Participation in conferences like process to include collaboration and integration with this should be broadened to include the land use com- energy, environment, public health, and community munity, citizen activists, the developer community, and development policies; and the integration of operations city and county officials with land development respon- and services/modes in the planning process. Collabora- sibility. Given the current market, where developers are tion with public stakeholders should be expanded during reporting greater sales per foot from urban development planning before projects have been identified, and mea- than from big box retail shopping centers, the engineer- sures of sustainability should be incorporated into the ing solution to transportation cannot be the only National Environmental Policy Act process. answer. Two of the approaches deal specifically with funding. The U.S. Department of Transportation should col- Ms. Canby recommended a change in the factors used laborate with other federal agencies, including the to distribute federal funding and in the way public-sec- Department of Housing and Urban Development, the tor transportation investment is funded. The decision- Department of Energy, the Department of Commerce, making authority over how to allocate funds among and the Environmental Protection Agency. These fed- state highway agencies, regional transit operators, and eral institutions need to break down silos to address the regional planning entities should be shared. crosscutting issue of sustainability. 24

OCR for page 34
PA N E L D I S C U S S I O N : P O T E N T I A L S O L U T I O N S T O C H A L L E N G E S 25 Hal Kassoff began by discussing whether the concept able accessibility. With regard to mobility, the trans- of sustainable highways is an oxymoron or an opportu- portation system of the United States is reaching a point nity. Highways are typically viewed as part of the prob- of diminishing returns. The focus should be on provid- lem and labeled antisustainable, whereas transit, freight ing better accessibility as opposed to more mobility. railroads, bicycling, and walking are parts of the solu- Current lifestyle and land use patterns are addicted to tion. Vehicles, however, can be made more sustainable mobility, but Dr. Pucher questions how much mobility through alternatives to fossil fuels, and similarly, there will be enough. are opportunities to make the highway infrastructure Dr. Pucher also discussed the apparent dismissal of part of the solution. walking and biking as modes of transport. These modes, Most state DOTs embrace environmental steward- which are often ignored by planners and engineers, are ship and agree that while meeting functional require- perfect from a sustainability perspective and need to be ments is the primary objective, it is not the only taken more seriously. A broader view should be taken of objective. Meeting the functional requirements while health problems related to transportation. Personal being environmental stewards results in sustainable health is a major component of the sustainability solu- highways. In addition, most highway projects are tion, and individuals should be encouraged to walk and improvements to existing roads. Since the existing roads bike for purposes of their health. Walking and biking were not built in accordance with today's demanding also increase social interaction and independence. True environmental standards, such projects present oppor- intermodalism is required for sustainability. Intermodal- tunities to meet the current stringent environmental and ism would coordinate all modes and integrate walking equity requirements. There are significant opportunities and cycling with other modes enabling longer trips. for highway infrastructure to help meet sustainability Alex Taft provided his perspective on metropolitan objectives in the areas of noise, water quality, ecology, planning and sustainability. The two keys to moving equity, recycling, safety, and mobility. toward sustainable transportation are a planning process A possible definition for sustainable highways is infused with public participation and the development of "highways that, from conception to completion, an overarching vision for the community. Comment peri- through maintenance and operations, satisfy life-cycle ods should be extended, all neighborhoods and busi- functional requirements while improving the natural, nesses should be involved, and consensus should be built, and social environment." Highways will remain reached on a plan that has strategies and projects consis- an enduring component of our transportation system tent with its theme and objectives. All projects, including with a recurring need for rehabilitation, reconstruction, nonmotorized and transit projects, should be prioritized and, at times, expansion. Rehabilitation, reconstruc- in conformance with the plan's theme and objectives. tion, and expansion projects present opportunities for To avoid simply continuing what has been done in the improving not just the functionality of highways but past, public participation must be improved. It is impor- their ability to contribute to sustainability goals. tant to demonstrate how public participation changed the John Pucher began by questioning what is meant by plan. In addition, metropolitan planning organizations mobility. It is important to distinguish between mobility must work with the community to develop an overarch- and access. There is a trade-off between mobility and ing vision for the area that integrates concepts of land sustainability, whereas it is possible to provide sustain- use, environmental protection, and energy conservation.