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Smart Growth and the Transportation-Land Use Connection: What Does the Research Tell Us?


  • Susan Handy

    (Department of Environmental Science and Policy, University of California, Davis,


The connection between transportation and land use lies at the center of efforts in the United States to combat sprawl through smart growth strategies. Proponents of smart growth commonly make several specific propositions about the relationships between transportation and land use: (1) building more highways will contribute to more sprawl, (2) building more highways will lead to more driving, (3) investing in light rail transit systems will increase densities, and (4) adopting new urbanism design strategies will reduce automobile use. This article explores how well the available evidence supports these four propositions and provides an overview of the theory, research efforts, and current debates associated with each of these propositions. This overview shows that the four propositions have not yet been fully resolved: researchers have made more progress on some of these propositions than others, but even in the best cases, our ability to predict the impact of smart growth policies remains limited.

Suggested Citation

  • Susan Handy, 2005. "Smart Growth and the Transportation-Land Use Connection: What Does the Research Tell Us?," International Regional Science Review, , vol. 28(2), pages 146-167, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:sae:inrsre:v:28:y:2005:i:2:p:146-167

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    Cited by:

    1. Murakami, Jin, 2010. "The Transit-Oriented Global Centers for Competitiveness and Livability: State Strategies and Market Responses in Asia," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt44g9t8mj, University of California Transportation Center.
    2. Hurst, Needham B. & West, Sarah E., 2014. "Public transit and urban redevelopment: The effect of light rail transit on land use in Minneapolis, Minnesota," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 46(C), pages 57-72.
    3. Myung-Jin Jun & Hee-Jae Kim, 2016. "The effects of Seoul’s suburban beltway on accessibility, residential development, and housing rents: a transport–land use simulation approach," The Annals of Regional Science, Springer;Western Regional Science Association, vol. 56(2), pages 565-589, March.
    4. Gasana, Parfait, 2009. "The Transportation Crossroads: Influence of Urban Area Form And Composition on Mass Transit," 50th Annual Transportation Research Forum, Portland, Oregon, March 16-18, 2009 207487, Transportation Research Forum.
    5. Jean Paul Rodrigue & Laetitia Dablanc & Genevieve Giuliano, 2017. "The Freight Landscape: Convergence and Divergence in Urban Freight Distribution," Post-Print hal-01519779, HAL.
    6. repec:bla:ijurrs:v:40:y:2016:i:3:p:658-678 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Elena Koncheva & Nikolay Zalesskiy, 2016. "Spatial Development of the Largest Russian Cities During the Post-Soviet Period: Orienting Towards Transit or Maintaining Soviet Trends," HSE Working papers WP BRP 04/URB/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    8. repec:gam:jlands:v:6:y:2017:i:2:p:30-:d:97071 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Shanjiang Zhu & David Levinson & Henry Liu, 2017. "Measuring winners and losers from the new I-35W Mississippi River Bridge," Transportation, Springer, vol. 44(5), pages 905-918, September.
    10. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:2:p:425-:d:130495 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Alireza Ermagun & David Levinson, 2015. "Accessibility and Transit Performance," Working Papers 000129, University of Minnesota: Nexus Research Group.
    12. Zahabi, Seyed Amir H. & Miranda-Moreno, Luis & Patterson, Zachary & Barla, Philippe, 2015. "Spatio-temporal analysis of car distance, greenhouse gases and the effect of built environment: A latent class regression analysis," Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice, Elsevier, vol. 77(C), pages 1-13.
    13. repec:eee:jotrge:v:68:y:2018:i:c:p:193-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    14. repec:gam:jsusta:v:9:y:2017:i:7:p:1150-:d:103278 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Austin Boyle & Charles Barrilleaux & Daniel Scheller, 2014. "Does Walkability Influence Housing Prices?," Social Science Quarterly, Southwestern Social Science Association, vol. 95(3), pages 852-867, September.
    16. Cao, Xinyu (Jason) & Porter-Nelson, Dean, 2016. "Real estate development in anticipation of the Green Line light rail transit in St. Paul," Transport Policy, Elsevier, vol. 51(C), pages 24-32.
    17. repec:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2017:i:1:p:61-:d:124697 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Murakami, Jin, 2010. "The Transit-Oriented Global Centers for Competitiveness and Livability: State Strategies and Market Responses in Asia," University of California Transportation Center, Working Papers qt19034785, University of California Transportation Center.
    19. repec:eco:journ2:2017-03-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. repec:eee:transa:v:107:y:2018:i:c:p:126-139 is not listed on IDEAS
    21. repec:eee:trapol:v:65:y:2018:i:c:p:79-88 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. Yunfei Peng & Jing Qian & Fu Ren & Wenhui Zhang & Qingyun Du, 2016. "Sustainability of Land Use Promoted by Construction-to-Ecological Land Conversion: A Case Study of Shenzhen City, China," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(7), pages 1-16, July.


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