New research looks at how much New Jersey could save through smarter road investments


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Earlier this year, Smart Growth America released a new model for analyzing the fiscal implications of development patterns. Since then we’ve analyzed development in Madison, WI, West Des Moines, IA, and Macon, GA.

For the latest installment, Smart Growth America teamed up with New Jersey Future to find out how much state, county and municipal governments in New Jersey could save on road maintenance bills by building in more compact ways.

The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns: Roads in New Jersey analyzes population and employment density to understand just how much money could be saved if the distribution of New Jersey’s population and jobs could be made even incrementally more dense and compact.

Researchers at Smart Growth America and New Jersey Future took two distinct but related approaches to these questions. Smart Growth America partitioned the whole state into grid cells of equal size and then compiled data for each cell. Using U.S. Census data regarding population and employment, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s database of road segments, Smart Growth America’s researchers calculated the relationship between density and the road area per capita.

A transportation engineer on what convinced him to use a Complete Streets approach

west-jefferson“Crazy ideas” in action: Complete Streets features in downtown West Jefferson, NC.

On Tuesday we hosted a panel discussion about Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research from the National Complete Streets Coalition on the outcomes of Complete Streets projects across the country. If you missed the event, read our full recap and watch the recorded webinar.

Dean Ledbetter, a Senior Engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), joined the panel to discuss the Complete Streets project in downtown West Jefferson, NC. There were so many questions about working with transportation engineers, and for Dean specifically, that we said down with him for a follow-up conversation.

Alex Dodds: You mentioned that you initially thought that Complete Streets was a “crazy idea,” but that eventually you changed your mind. What convinced you?
Dean Ledbetter: I don’t know if there was one specific thing. I think I had to go through the [Federal Highway Administration’s] training several times for the reality of something new to overpower the existing “knowledge” I had about what my job was supposed to be. And I have to admit that we only went to those classes to get the free Professional Development Hours not because we really expected to learn anything useful.

Learn all about the third edition of "The Innovative DOT"

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbEarlier this month we released the third edition of The Innovative DOT: A handbook of policy and practice. The new and improved guide includes tools for state DOTs working to improve safety, alleviate congestion, improve system reliability, accelerate project delivery, preserve valuable assets, reduce environmental impacts, and enhance economic opportunities—all in an era of constrained budgets.

We want to make it as easy as possible to use the new guide, so Smart Growth America and our co-authors the State Smart Transportation Initiative are hosting a free webinar all about it.

Join us tomorrow, January 27, 2015 at 3:00 PM EST to learn about new features of the 2015 edition and to discuss how transportation professionals have applied the manual. Hear from panelists Billy Fields, Assistant Professor of Political Science at Texas State University; Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America and Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute; Adetokunbo “Toks” Omishakin, Deputy Commissioner/Chief of Environment & Planning at the Tennessee DOT; and Chris Spahr, SSTI Project Assistant. The speakers will highlight new features in the third edition, and how state DOTs across the country are already putting the manual into action.

Third edition of “The Innovative DOT” provides new tools for states looking to improve transportation while reducing costs

innovative-dot3-cover-thumbState transportation officials across the country are facing the same challenges: Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking but transportation demands are continuing to grow.

Innovative approaches can help transportation officials succeed in the face of these challenges, and an updated resource from Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) outlines how.

The third edition of The Innovative DOT, released today, provides 34 strategies that transportation officials can use to position their agencies for success in a new era of constrained budgets. Originally released in 2012 and developed with input from top transportation professionals and agency staff from around the nation, the handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied. The second edition was released in January 2014, and provided three additional tools and 20 new case studies.

“State DOTs across the country are using the tools in this guidebook with great success,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “The third edition contains even more ideas for how DOT staff can lead and improve their agencies’ work.”

The Innovative DOT, 2015

Third Edition, January 2015 State officials across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking. Yet state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have ambitious goals: improve safety, address congestion, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to … Continued

Could state DOTs provide better service for less money?

innovative-dot-second-edition-coverState transportation officials across the country are facing the same challenges: Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking but transportation demands are continuing to grow.

Innovative approaches can help transportation officials overcome both these sets of challenges, and an updated resource from Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Initiative (SSTI) outlines how.

The second edition of The Innovative DOT, released today, provides 34 strategies transportation officials can use to position their agencies for success in a new era of constrained budgets. Originally released in 2012 and developed with input from top transportation professionals and agency staff from around the nation, the handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied.

“America’s transportation system is vital for economic growth and to our everyday quality of life,” said Roger Millar, Vice President of Smart Growth America. “Faced with tight budgets, transportation agencies are taking new approaches to managing our nation’s transportation infrastructure. The resources in The Innovative DOT encourage smarter investments and a more strategic approach to help deliver the best possible performance given our current fiscal situation.”

The Innovative DOT, 2014

Second edition, January 2014 State officials across the country are facing the same challenges. Revenues are falling and budgets are shrinking. Yet state Departments of Transportation (DOTs) have ambitious goals: improve safety, reduce congestion, enhance economic opportunity, improve reliability, preserve system assets, accelerate project delivery, and help to create healthier, more livable neighborhoods, just to … Continued

Ideas for creating better DOTs at Good Jobs, Green Jobs 2013

How can state departments of transportation (DOTs) cut costs while creating better transportation choices and creating quality jobs?

That’s what Smart Growth America’s Vice President Roger Millar will discuss at this year’s Good Jobs Green Jobs conference, on April 16, 2013 in Washington D.C. Joining Millar for a panel discussion called “Not Your Father’s DOT” will be Eric Sundquist, Managing Director, Smart State Transportation Initiative and Douglas Shinkle, Senior Policy Specialist, National Conference of State Legislatures.

Many state DOTs face falling revenues but rising demand for services. In response to these challenges, DOTs across the country are changing the way they do business. Agencies are taking new approaches to transportation that fit the unique demands of their states and that provide greater benefits at less cost. They are improving existing services in the short term and planning effectively for the long term. They are adopting innovative yet pragmatic reforms. They are reevaluating and retooling traditional practices to ensure that those practices continue to provide users with a robust, economically beneficial transportation network.

Smart Growth America's Top 12 of 2012: Creating new reports and resources

Christopher Leinberger, President of LOCUS, presenting new research at George Washington University.

We’re doing a special blog series highlighting some of Smart Growth America’s favorite accomplishments from 2012. This is the third of twelve installments.

In the past year, Smart Growth America has conducted new research and created new resources for our allies in the field.

In March, we released From Vacancy to Vibrancy, a guide to redeveloping underground storage tank sites through area-wide planning. The guide provides an overview of the tools and strategies available to leaders who want to transform vacant properties with hazardous underground storage tanks into economic and community assets, setting the stage for redevelopment and revitalization of brownfields. This guide is a valuable tool for any town or city that is looking to redevelop their vacant brownfields and help their economies and communities thrive.