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GreenStep City Best Practices Land Use

Efficient Highway- and Auto-Oriented Development
no. 9

Adopt commercial development and design standards for auto-oriented development corridors and clusters.
benefits  
  • Improved flow of highway traffic, lowered risk of accidents.
  • Long-term reduction in vehicle miles traveled due to more compact development.
  • Less leap-frog development, lowering costs of extending and maintaining infrastructure.
  • More synergy for clustered retail businesses.
  • More development pressure for infill sites.
  • Higher quality, more aesthetic development without "visual pollution," that is sensitive to its context (rural, suburban, town center/urban core) and thus retains its property value.
 
Optional for category A, B and C cities
All Category A, B and C cities that choose to implement this best practice are recognized upon completion of at least one action.
summary
Limited-access highway-oriented commercial development is a common land use pattern. In many Minnesota towns a highway transects three distinct contexts: rural, "sub-urban," and the town center, or urban core. The sub-urban or 'at the edge of town' area is the most challenging context and is the focus of this best practice, which also addresses the common "in-town" land use of auto-oriented commercial developments (both commercial arterials and large-format superblocks).

Typical highway commercial development is appropriately oriented towards automobile traffic, but often lacks visual appeal, creates an inefficient linear development pattern rather than clusters, and reduces highway functionality by creating too many closely spaced problem intersections. Auto-oriented development also is typically lower density, consuming development acres less efficiently and yielding lower property tax revenues per acre. This style of development fragments habitat and imposes higher infrastructure maintenance costs onto cites. As gateways into - and the places that visitors get their first impressions of - communities, highway commercial development can be made more context-sensitive, attractive, ecological, efficient and even bikable/walkable.

greenstep advisor
Frank Douma, State and Local Policy Program of the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs, University of Minnesota: 612/626-9946, douma002@umn.edu, http://www.hhh.umn.edu/people/fdouma/
connection to state Policy

  • The MN Dept. of Transportation lists ten access management principles, which include:
    • 5. Avoid strip development. Promote commercial nodes. Commercial development can be located adjacent to and visible from the highway, but should be accessed via a system of parallel local roads and side streets that complement the state highway system requirements.
  • The MN Dept. of Transportation has developed mobility performance targets for interregional corridors, which comprise 2,960 miles of highways that represent 2% of all roadway miles in the state and that account for 33% of all vehicle miles traveled in the state.