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Washington Street, Houston, Mississippi: Streetscape rendering after implementing downtown, trail-oriented growth. Image Courtesy Brian Morton.
Washington Street, Houston, Mississippi: Streetscape rendering after implementing downtown, trail-oriented growth. Image Courtesy Brian Morton.

For the past 15 years, Senior Research Associate Brian Morton has worked on transportation, environmental protection and community-development projects at the Center for Urban and Regional Studies (CURS). This spring, Morton announced his retirement.

After earning his Ph.D. in agricultural and resource economics from the University of California at Berkeley, Morton worked for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Research Triangle Institute and the Environmental Defense Fund, among others.

Morton also taught at Knox College, Duke University, UNC-Chapel Hill and was visiting professor at the National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Automation in Grenoble, France.

In honor of his career at CURS, listed below are a few highlights from Morton’s research with links to more information.

Bike&Place – In a 2017 study for the Southeastern Transportation Research, Innovation, Development and Education Center (STRIDE), Morton used an open-source software package to create an easy-to-use travel demand model for use by planners working in towns and small cities. Morton’s goal was to build a product that predicts demand for bicycle travel by people who are interested in cycling but concerned about safety and their abilities. Called Bike&Place, Morton’s tool helps planners increase bicycle accessibility.

Close to Home: A Handbook for Transportation-Efficient Growth in Small Communities and Rural Areas – Released in 2014 and co-authored by Joseph Huegy of North Carolina State University and John Poros of Mississippi State University, this handbook was prepared for the Transportation Research Board’s National Cooperative Highway Research Program. The book provides insights into the relationship between a small/rural area’s existing development patterns and changes in daily driving after hypothetical new growth.

Advanced Modeling System for Forecasting Regional Development, Travel Behavior and Spatial Pattern of Emissions – This 2009 study, led by Daniel Rodriguez, Yan Song and Brian Morton, was funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Through simulation modeling of land use, transportation, emissions and air quality, this research investigated whether and how regional development significantly affects the quantity and spatial characteristics of health- and environment-damaging emissions. The model used data for Charlotte, North Carolina and surrounding Mecklenburg County and predicted emissions and potential population exposures from each scenario. The work yielded an objective method to test hypotheses about how various development forms affect emissions.

Developing Standards: The Role of the Community Benefits Agreements in Enhancing Job Quality – Co-written in 2008 with Nichola Lowe, professor of city and regional planning, and published in Community Development Journal, this article presents three case studies on the “California model” of the Community Benefits Agreement (CBA). Morton and Lowe emphasize the conflicts that can arise between CBA coalitions and oppositional forces and how these tensions affect organizing strategies and outcomes of community benefit campaigns.

Video: Brian J. Morton on Bike&Place
Video: Brian J. Morton on Bike&Place
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