Urban Transportation Planning in the United States: An Historical Overview

By Edward Weiner | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Beginnings of Multimodal
Urban Transportation Planning

By 1970, there were 273 urbanized areas actively engaged in continuing urban transportation planning (see Figure 7.1). By then, however, the urban transportation planning process was receiving criticism on a number of issues. It was criticized for inadequate treatment of the social and environmental impacts of transportation facilities and services. The planning process had still not become multimodal and was not adequately evaluating a wide range of alternatives. Planning was focused almost exclusively on long-range time horizons, ignoring more immediate problems. And, the technical procedures to carry out planning were criticized for being too cumbersome, time consuming, and rigid to adapt to new issues quickly. Concern also was expressed about their theoretical validity.

During the early 1970s, actions were taken to address these criticisms. Legislation was passed mat increased the capital funds available for mass transportation and provided federal assistance for transit operating costs. Greater flexibility was permitted in the use of some highway funds, including their use on transit projects. These provisions placed transit on a more equal footing with highways and considerably strengthened multimodal planning and implementation.

In addition, the federal government took steps to better integrate urban transportation planning at the local level, and to require shorter-range capital improvement programs along with long-range plans. Emphasis was placed on non-capital intensive measures to reduce traffic congestion as alternatives to major construction projects. And, state highway agencies were required to develop procedures for addressing social, economic, and environmental impacts of highways.

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