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Forward Motion: Transportation Planning

Corridors Through Our Communities

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Social creatures that we are, people need to live in communities. We also have a longstanding proclivity to explore new territory. Transportation corridors have provided the framework for this, ensuring that we stay connected to home while we satisfy our relentless curiosity about the land beyond the horizon.

Corridors link communities. And sometimes the corridor itself becomes home to a community of travelers. From the 19th century riverboat world of the Mississippi to the great Appalachian Trail conceived in 1921 by Benton MacKaye, corridors are places in their own right, with their own cultures, infrastructure, and issues.

Today, the transportation corridors connecting communities are primarily arterial roadways, stretching out over increasing distances. Our corridors set the stage for much of our development pattern, whether we plan it or not.

For example, a winding, two-lane roadway links small towns and rural areas, accommodating clusters of residences and neighborhood-scale stores. As the area prospers, commercial activity begins to spread out, with developers jostling for front-row space along the highway. In a pattern we’ve all witnessed, farms and open space are converted into shopping centers and parking lots, while subdivisions mushroom along adjacent roadways. What follows (all too often) is more traffic congestion, leading to more road widening, triggering more sprawling development, and — you guessed it — even more traffic.

Is the above scenario the inevitable price of progress? Not necessarily. But if you want to have some control over your community’s pattern of development, you have to do some serious long-term corridor planning.

Developing Corridor Plans

A good corridor plan balances mobility and accessibility in order to achieve livability. It identifies the specific locations where access to developable land should be promoted, and where it should be limited. It also focuses on the type of networks needed to support the desired types of development.

Corridor planning presents a rich opportunity to bring together residents and business owners (whose daily lives depend in some way upon the corridor) with a range of professionals from disciplines including transportation engineering, land use planning, community design, and environmental analysis. …

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photo of Hannah TwaddellHannah Twaddell is President and founder of Twaddell Associates, LLC, a consulting practice specializing in community planning, public engagement, facilitation, and education. Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, the firm provides planning, facilitation, and educational services to communities, government agencies, and private organizations across the U.S.

Before setting up Twaddell Associates, Hannah was a Senior Transportation Planner with Renaissance Planning Group, where she has worked on transportation planning and public involvement projects in several states. Prior to that, she served as Assistant Director of the Thomas Jefferson Planning District Commission (in Charlottesville) and as chief staff to the Charlottesville-Albemarle Metropolitan Planning Organization.

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