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Implementing transit-oriented development in Atlanta region

Georgia Institute Of Technology : 04 November, 2000  (New Product)
Since the 1950s, the automobile has dominated land use planning in the United States. Today, the average American driver travels nearly 30 miles per day. People drive, rather than walk, because they are widely spread out in suburbs, and sidewalks don't exist in many areas. To better understand how metro Atlanta gets around, Georgia Tech researchers are expanding their latest three-year study, called Strategies for Metropolitan Atlanta's Regional Transportation and Air Quality. This study was first introduced last fall, but a recently awarded grant of $2.4 million from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and a $75,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will enable SMARTRAQ to undertake an important expansion of this study.
SMARTRAQ will determine how people travel in Atlanta by conducting a painstaking survey of more than 8,000 households across the region beginning next spring. Many participants will be asked to keep a diary for at least three days documenting every move of each member of the household; the purpose of each trip; whether it was taken by car or other vehicle or on foot; how long the trip took, etc. On selected participants, hip-mounted accelerometers will even track how much walking the wearer does, and at what speed. This is of particular interest to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who hopes to learn more about how much exercise Americans get in their daily lives. The data bases that the researchers compile will be used by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, the Atlanta Regional Commission, and the Georgia Department of Transportation to help make important decisions on billions of dollars in transportation investments. Their findings could result in new and valuable development guidelines for metro Atlanta and the state.

Travel Survey: This new grant will enable SMARTRAQ to increase its survey from 3,500 households to more than 8,000. This will enable researchers to study how household travel varies across a wide variety of land-use conditions. Further, sufficient data will be available to assess travel patterns at the county level and to provide meaningful information to support county level planning in the 13-county region.

Identifying the Mobility Needs of Traditionally Underserved Populations: This survey was unfunded before the GRTA grant was awarded. The project will include an important focused data collection effort to assess the mobility needs and travel patterns of lower income, minority, and disadvantaged communities. It will be conducted in partnership with Clark Atlanta University.

Physical Activity and Public Health Survey: This project is funded by a $75,000 grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The project will include data collection focused on the physical activity levels of household participants in the travel survey. A set of questions will be included in the travel survey to capture the overall health of household members. Also, additional electronic devices will be purchased to increase the sample size to assess non-motorized travel (walking and biking). The funding from the CDC will also help to support a SMARTRAQ outreach event on physical activity and the public health implications of community design.

Summer Ozone Survey: This survey was unfunded before the GRTA grant was awarded. A separate travel study will be conducted in the critical summer months to capture the variation in household travel during the time of year when Atlanta experiences its greatest air problems. This data will enable researchers to test the effects and potential air quality benefits of key strategies aimed at reducing vehicle travel during those critical months.

Residential Preference Survey: This newly funded project will include a separate survey to examine the factors that are involved in selecting a residential location. Results from this survey, will enable researchers to assess the feasibility and market demand within specific population groups for innovative approaches like transit supportive development. This will give researchers critical guidance concerning the types of land use and transportation qualities that make communities appealing to a significant set of the population.

Land Use Database: Increasing funds for this project provides the valuable new resources to collect detailed information at the parcel level, including parcel boundaries, and to develop a framework for updating and monitoring land-use changes over time. Additional land-use information will be incorporated into the database to assess environmental and ecological factors including sensitive areas. These improvements will result in a land-use information system that can track and monitor the preservation and acquisition of open space based upon a multi-criteria system that assesses size, proximity, and interconnectedness.
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