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For completed Transportation projects click here.

Evaluating the Relationship Between School Site Selection, Residential Developments and School Transportation in North Carolina.

Noreen McDonald-PI. STRIDE-funded research suggests that the density of residential developments with a one-half mile radius of newly constructed schools influence school transportation system design, mode splits and costs. This research, conducted by STRIDE-sponsored researchers at UNC Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University and the University of Florida, evaluated school transportation costs for 20 schools in the Southeast United States – 11 in North Carolina and 9 in Florida. However, design and methodological limitations presented by this selection of schools makes it difficult to evaluate the relationship beyond a cross-sectional overview of trends. This research proposal will achieve two important contributions. First, it will expand our understanding of the connections between school transportation costs and site location by utilizing secondary data from North Carolina that will allow us to assess these relationships by school location, size, and age of school. This will greatly increase the generalizability of the research. Second, the phenomenon of school construction and nearby residential development growth is a dynamic issue that must be understood as a function of time. Thus, this research will use secondary data from North Carolina to assess how changing residential patterns affect school transportation costs over time.

Practitioner Workshop on School Siting and School Transportation

Noreen McDonald-PI. North Carolina is a rapidly growing state in need of more schools in its Urbanized Areas. North Carolina’s Local Education Agencies (LEAs) face concurrent demographic growth factors of in-migration rates (5.4% annually) and urbanization rates (3.5% annually) that are higher than the national average. As more people move to the Tar Heel state, and those living within the state move to Urbanized Areas, LEAs will be charged with providing additional educational facilities for learning and safe modes of transportation to and from school. STRIDE-funded research suggests that where those new schools are built – and the coordination between education leadership, school facility planners, and school transportation planners – will influence the modes and costs of school travel. This workshop proposes to introduce North Carolina and Florida practitioners and policy makers to the topic of school siting and share recent STRIDE-funded research addressing the nexus between school site selection and school transportation. Further, it will outline the relationship between state-level policies and local decision making and highlight best practices in coordinated school site selection in the state of North Carolina and the Southeast United States.

Housing Costs and Commuting Distance

Roberto Quercia–PI. Traditional urban economic theory holds that land values decline from a central business district in direct proportion to the cost of commuting. In reality, we know that urban spatial structures are rarely so monocentric, but instead involve multiple centers of employment with widespread patterns of cross-commuting and reverse commuting. Nevertheless, the general tradeoff between housing costs and commuting costs should still hold, otherwise households would be better off by moving closer to their jobs.
This research will use information from the American Community Survey and a relatively new employment database compiled by the U.S. Census Bureau that includes detailed geographic information on the location of workers residences and workplaces. The difference in housing costs will then be compared to the estimated commuting distance using multiple regression analysis. Separate models will be run using different components of housing cost, different household types, and different metropolitan areas to explore different patterns in behavior. Research findings will help inform policy and practice. Real estate agents will be able to better serve households looking for the right home that balances commutes and housing costs. The research results will also help inform policies ranging from the ability-to-repay rule for home mortgages, affordable housing subsidies, and local housing regulations.

Teaching School Children Pedestrian Safety: A Pragmatic Trial Using Virtual Reality

Daniel RodriguezPI. The research team proposes a pragmatic repeated-measures trial evaluating whether 7- and 8-year-old children learn to cross streets safely through training in a virtual reality pedestrian environment placed in a community setting. Data will be analyzed using linear mixed models that test change over time. It is expected that children will have fewer hits and close calls, will be more attentive to traffic, and will make quicker and more successful pedestrian crossing decisions following training in the virtual reality.

School Transportation: Development of an Education Module

Noreen McDonaldPI. This project will develop education materials about school transportation and school location based on previous research. The education modules will be designed for graduate and undergraduate engineering and planning courses. Dissemination of research results will focus on pupil transportation directors and school facility directors in the Southeast.

Characterizing the Determinants of Vehicle Traffic Emissions Exposure: Measurement and Modeling of Emissions, Transformation and Transport

Daniel Rodriguez–PI. This project will allow an examination of the built environment and its associations with air quality. The main tasks include: application of built environment metrics or surrogates, ensuring generalizability of the data inputs and processing; quantification of land use metrics in each study site; estimation of linkages between land use, traffic, topography, housing type, building height, and other built environment attributes that might inform estimation of surrogates for emission source strength, dispersion, and exposure; and preparation of built environment inputs to analysis of near road air quality using these metrics.

Bicycle and Pedestrian Data Collection

Daniel Rodriguez–PI.  As the state’s population grows and urbanizes, the demand for pedestrian and bicycle facilities also grows. The North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT) needs to establish a common, consistent system for quantifiably measuring non-motorized traffic volumes based on sound methods.  In turn, these data can be fed into tools to measure existing trends and model future increases in non-motorized trips at site-, corridor-, and regional-levels. Establishing a bicycle and pedestrian count program will assist the NCDOT in evaluating facility usage over time, inform the project prioritization process and provide quantifiable evidence to support non-motorized facility inclusion through the Complete Streets process, improving municipal and regional planning for active travel.

Quantifying the Costs of School Transportation

Noreen McDonald–PI. This project assesses the full costs of school transportation at a sample of NC and FL elementary school. The cost analysis forms the basis of a decision support tool for practitioners.