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United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

Sustainable Transportation: An international Perspective

Publication Year: 2009 Publisher: MIT journal of planning


The Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) recently updated Metro Vision, the region’s long-range plan for growth, transportation and the environment. As part of the update process, DRCOG explored future scenarios reflecting different land use and transportation policies. On the land use side, scenarios ranged from compact to expansive development patterns. On the transportation side, scenarios ranged from an emphasis on roadway improvements to an emphasis on transit improvements. Scenarios that favored compact development patterns and transit investments performed best on a variety of outcome measures including transportation system performance, infrastructure costs, accessibility and environmental impacts. In contrast, scenarios that significantly expanded the region’s urban “footprint” did not perform as well and resulted in greater overload of key regional transportation facilities. The results of the scenario analysis influenced the DRCOG Board’s deliberations regarding how much to expand the region’s urban growth boundary to accommodate additional growth between 2030 (the previous planning horizon) and 2035. Before the scenario analysis, the Board was considering expanding the boundary by 70 square miles; after the analysis the Board decided to expand the boundary only 21.8 square miles. The adopted 2035 urban growth boundary represents an ambitious effort to curb current trends toward expansive development, and will require a significant increase in overall density in the Denver region.