There is an important connection between land use and transportation. How we invest in our transportation systems has an influence on where growth and development occur. Similarly, the location of new growth impacts how well the transportation system functions and where we may need additional investment. This connection makes it imperative that we understand growth patterns and future development plans so that we can anticipate long-range transportation needs.
The MRCOG socioeconomic team uses a land use model created by UrbanSim Inc. to forecast population and employment growth in the region. The model uses historical growth trends, existing land use plans and policies, and a variety of other local data collected from the MRCOG member agencies as inputs. It is also integrated with MRCOG’s travel demand model in order to capture the complex interactions between growth and transportation. The land use model’s main advantage from other forecasting methods is that it uses local land use policy as the main constraint on growth, which keeps it rooted in reality, whereas other methods generally carry past growth trends forward. This method of forecasting also has the benefit of allowing modelers to test out “what-if” scenarios based on proposed land use or zoning policies to see how growth might be affected.