Transportation and Housing

Transportation planning deals with the design, location, and evaluation of methods for moving people and goods.  This includes roads and highways, freight lines, pedestrian and bicycle paths, and public transit.

Transportation planning tends to be highly specialized, but it exerts a high degree of influence over other branches of planning, including housing.

According to the Federal Highway Administration:

“Transportation helps shape an area’s economic health and quality of life. Not only does the transportation system provide for the mobility of people and goods, it also influences patterns of growth and economic activity by providing access to land.”

Where housing is built, what it looks like, and what size and shape it is is dictated in part before it is ever designed, constructed or bought, by transportation and land use planners.  This in turn can impact people’s health, finances, education, and overall opportunity, as is discussed in the section on land use and housing.

The connections between housing and transportation planning also impact the environment.  For much of the 20th century, public money was poured into the development of our national highway system.  The resulting sprawl and auto-dependence has led to the loss of green space and agricultural lands, and has increased air pollution.  Today, as low-income families move further and further outside of cities to find housing they can afford, they are becoming more car-dependent.  This has clear health and environmental impacts, but also means they must devote a greater share of their family budgets to transportation (read an article about this here).

In recent years, the federal government has begun to recognize these connections between housing, transportation, and the environment.  In 2009, a partnership was announced between the DOT, EPA, and HUD.  This Partnership for Sustainable Communities is intended to increase communication between the agencies, and align not only their goals, but also their planning and research.

Housing Land Advocates has addressed these issues in both our advocacy work and our educational outreach.  We will continue to support the integration of transportation planning and housing policy into the future..

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