Maryland's Smart Growth Policy Concern about suburban sprawl is once again capturing public attention--thanks, in part, to a national "Challenge to Sprawl" campaign launched by the Sierra Club in early September. As with past anti-sprawl manifestos, the Sierra Club's call to arms is long on rhetoric but short on concrete solutions. Of more practical significance is the experience of several states, notably Oregon, Washington, Florida, Maine, Vermont, and Georgia, which are trying to control sprawl with innovative growth management measures such as urban growth boundaries, transferable development rights and agricultural land preserves. The latest convert has been the state of Maryland, whose "Smart Growth" policy has gained national attention and has been praised as "the most promising new tool for managing growth in a generation." But whether the Maryland initiative actually will realize its lofty goal of altering development patterns and curbing sprawl remains very much in question.
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The concept of value pricing -- i.e. charging motorists a fee for the use of congestion-free lanes -- has won widespread public acceptance and offers multiple benefits to users and nonusers alike. These are the main conclusions that have emerged from an official evaluation of the SR-91 Express Lanes project-- a variable toll facility that offers commuters the option of faster and more reliable travel in dedicated lanes along the congested 10-mile corridor of State Route 91 in Orange County. The results of the evaluation, conducted by California Polytechnic's Professor Edward Sullivan, have been published in a September 1998 report, "Evaluating the Impacts of the SR 91 Variable Toll Express Lane Facility."
Policies Affecting Automobile Use
What forces are going to shape transportation in the early 21st century? What steps must be taken to preserve and enhance mobility in the years ahead? These are the questions the Automotive Board of Governors of the World Economic Forum (WEF) posed to a team of transportation researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The findings and conclusions of the MIT team were presented to the WEF Governors at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum last February. In this final installment of a three-part series, we summarize the report's conclusions concerning policies affecting automobile use.
The Federal Highway Administration in Transition
In a wide-ranging reorganization, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has abolished its nine Regional Offices, revamped its headquarters structure and delegated expanded authority to the field. The moves are seen in response to the changing nature of the Federal-aid highway program. How well is FHWA equipped to face the future? Conversations with the agency's former senior officials reveal an interesting range of opinions.
Paying for New Roads
Some observers speculate that paying for the use of new roads will become standard practice in the 21st century. They cite three reasons in support of this prediction: (1) the need to preserve and rehabilitate existing road systems will grow so large as to preempt all available public road funds; (2) electronic variable pricing systems can be used to control demand and maintain congestion-free travel conditions at all times; (3) advances in technology will make toll collection "invisible."