NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Kenneth Button and Aura Reggiani
Chapter 8: Transportation Planning of the Future: Mitigating GHGs in the US through Green Litigation
Deb Niemeier, Erica Jones and Roger Cheng 8.1 INTRODUCTION The US Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA) signaled a paradigm shift in transportation planning, moving the process from a federal–state partnership to one in which the role of regional planning agencies became central to the selection and prioritization of transportation infrastructure (Taylor and Schweitzer, 2005). This devolution of responsibility has been reinforced with the subsequent passages of transportation enabling legislation, including the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21) and the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU). The broad perspective underlying these legislative actions was, and has been, that regional governance bodies are better suited for selecting and prioritizing transportation projects than are the state transportation agencies. The new, now well trodden path is clear: metropolitan planning organizations are responsible for prioritizing billions of dollars each year to implement long-term, 20-year regional transportation plans. We now mark more than 15 years since the passage of ISTEA and while it is fairly clear that under this legislation the emphasis shifted from a single mode to consideration of a multi-modal system (McNabb, 1998), it is less obvious that the devolution of responsibility has enabled any greater ability – by being closer to where projects are really needed – in formulating regional responses to significant policy challenges. In this paper, we review two important recent case studies that highlight the difficulties of responding to shifting state and national priorities within the current institutional context of...
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