This research was funded by the National Institute for Transportation and Communities, with additional support from the University of Utah, Utah Transit Authority, Salt Lake County Planning & Transportation, and the University of Texas, Arlington.
A “polycentric” region is a network of compact developments (centers) that are connected with each other through high-quality transportation options. As the antidote to sprawling suburbs, compact centers can encourage all the things that sprawl discourages: public health, environmental sustainability, social cohesion, and economic diversity. But how can metropolitan planning organizations ensure that their regional plans will actually meet these goals? Polycentric development has been advocated by urban and transportation planners for more than a decade. However, effective practice must be backed by solid research, and to date there has been little or no research that quantifies the transportation benefits of having multiple centers – or defines what actually makes a center. A new study from the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) offers the strongest evidence yet produced on the transportation benefits of polycentric development. Researchers partnered with local agencies to help the Salt Lake County region in Utah make informed decisions about future growth patterns.
Ewing, R., Regional Transportation Goals: Reducing Sprawl through Interconnected Centers. Project Brief NITC-RR-1217. Portland, OR: Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC), 2020.