Ratcheting Down Density

Without a viable mass transit system and concentrated employment centers, Atlanta should reduce allowable density and build more roads, says one columnist.

"No affordable mass transit or commuter rail system can possibly be built linking anything more than a handful of people to where they live and work. One could argue that, once built, high-rise dwellings and high-employment centers would spring up. That has not been Atlanta's experience with rapid rail in the decades since the east-west line opened. And with the possible exception of the Lindbergh station, MARTA hasn't driven density around stations on the north-south line, either."

"The practical remedy is to ratchet down density in all but the places where roads exist to carry it. Just as water withdrawal permits exist, so too should jurisdictions be assigned traffic-addition permits for every major highway based on the road's carrying capacity. If cities or counties want to add traffic, they should be required to jointly fund new capacity."

Full Story: High-density development not a cure-all



Michael Lewyn's picture

vicious circle

This article leads to a common circular argument. First the road lobby's supporters prohibit density because there isn't transit- then they oppose transit because there isn't enough density to support it! Somebody has to break the cycle somewhere!

And Self-Defeating

It is also self-defeating. They want lower densities to reduce congestion so they can get around more quickly. But they don't realize that the lower densities also mean they have to drive longer distances.

If they had densities low enough to avoid congestion (much lower than Atlanta's current density), they would have to spend more time on the freeways than they do now.

Charles Siegel

Book cover of the Guide to Graduate Planning Programs 4th Edition

Thinking about Grad School?

New! 4th Edition of the Planetizen Guide to Graduate Urban Planning Programs just released.
Starting at $24.95

Prepare for the AICP Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $209

A Short History of America

From comic book artist Robert Crumb, poster shows how the built environment has changed throughout the decades.

Stay thirsty, urbanists

These sturdy water bottles are eco-friendly and perfect for urbanists on the go.