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Carl Small Town Center 2012 Š2012 Carl Small Town Center http://www.carlsmalltowncenter.org All artworks copyright ŠCarl Small Town Center Use by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or means electronic or mechanical including photocopy, recording or any other information storage and retrieval system, without the written permission from the publisher and the artists. Carl Small Town Center P.O. Box AQ Giles Hall Mississippi State University Mississippi State, MS 39762 Written by: Kimberly Brown, Rebecca Katkin, Neil Polen, John Poros, Chris Walker Graphics by: Andrew McMahan Edited by: John Poros, Leah Kemp, Danielle Glass, Vanessa Robinson Sponsored by: Mississippi Development Authority

Ta b l e o f C o n t e n t s Chapter 1: What is a Highway Bypass? Chapter 2: Land Planning First Chapter 3: Avoiding Highway Bypasses Chapter 4: Existing Highway Bypass: What Now ? Chapter 5: Planning a New Highway Bypass

Introduction & Chapter Summaries

Introduction “Our approach to transportation problems has had the effect of making it easier and easier to travel to more places that have become less and less worth driving to.� - Philip Slater, The Pursuit of Loneliness

These guidelines for highway bypasses in the State of Mississippi are intended to be used as a

resource for elected officials, transportation agencies, community advocates and others interested in improving the quality of transportation infrastructure projects and how they relate to their respective communities. Many times, bypass projects are necessary and helpful in maintaining and improving the flow of traffic through regional and inter-regional roadways. But there are also many unintended side effects associated with the implementation of a bypass that are often not apparent to the general public. While these guidelines are intended to promote a more sustainable transportation system for the state of Mississippi, many examples (both positive and negative) from across this and other countries will be incorporated within this report to best exemplify both the effects and possibilities with bypass and other transportation infrastructure projects. The precedent for much of what will be discussed in this report spurs from the implementation of the automobile as the primary tool for transportation in American cities and towns. As Americans have become increasingly dependent on the car as a mode of transportation, the result has made populated areas less able to accommodate pedestrian traffic, resulting in numerous and far-reaching cultural, socioeconomic and health-related side affects. Often these consequences are not intuitive and therefore feed into a perpetual cycle of ill-advised policies that fundamentally alter the way in which we live and move within our communities. By providing resources to understand these issues, it is our hope that these guidelines will foster a better understanding of the effects that these projects can have on communities. We hope that both communities and departments of transportation can find optimal solutions to the problems posed by the necessity of vehicular mobility within the American city. Proper education regarding bypass and related systems can help in promoting transportation infrastructure strategies that in turn aid in the creation of sustainable highway systems. This in turn will enhance the quality of life both for the affected community’s residents and those visiting or traveling on the new highways.

Chapter 1: What is a Highway Bypass?

Chapter one of the guidelines provides a general history of US highway systems, which pre-

cedes the introduction of the “bypass”. This chapter also provides a list of the advantages and disadvantages typically associated with the introduction of bypass projects. All too often, transportation infrastructure projects are viewed as isolated entities, having nothing to do with larger socioeconomic systems. This chapter articulates both the positive and negative effects of bypasses on communities and its residents. These issues include but are not limited to the effects that bypass projects can have on both the residents of a community and those passing through the community. This chapter will also discuss in detail the various forms in which bypass systems occur, and provide examples to help articulate the variations.

Chapter 2: Land Planning First

Chapter two investigates the fundamental relationship that exists between our roads and com-

munities. This chapter explores the logic behind our road systems and how it directly affects the way in which a community’s inhabitants move within, live, and use land in their community. We argue that land use must precede the choice of road type for effective planning to occur. The chapter also discusses matching road types with various levels of land uses. The notion of properly associating road type with land use will be addressed in further detail in chapter three within the context of an “intratown bypass”. This aspect of land planning is vital, as all too often the initiation of a new bypass eventually causes the very problems it was implemented to restrain.


Chapter 3: Avoiding Highway Bypasses

Chapter Three provides both information and strategies that are aimed at avoiding the imple-

mentation of a bypass if possible. While bypasses may sometimes be necessary to reallocate or relieve traffic congestion, avoiding a bypass altogether typically will prevent many of the problems discussed in Chapter Two from taking root. As with the other chapters, this section’s purpose is to provide the community involved with enough critical information that they can make an informed decision as to whether a bypass is the most effective option. This chapter will also explain how changes in the transportation infrastructure may affect the community’s residents and visitors in many different ways.

Many times there are ways to both alleviate congested traffic areas while simultaneously ad-

dressing cultural and economic concerns of a particular community without instituting a bypass. The goal is to address vehicular circulation strategies and socioeconomic/cultural issues as intertwined and related concerns. This chapter also provides select case studies that illustrate different strategies in which cities address these issues.

Chapter 4: Existing Highway Bypass: What Now ?

In many cases, a bypass already exists. Chapter Four approaches an existing bypass with sug-

gestions for maximizing the economic and urban center’s potential. With the introduction of a bypass, businesses tend to move away from the urban center and toward the bypass area. This transition can be easily overlooked simply as a relocation of business centers from one area to another. However, this movement of commercial and retail areas tends to harm a small downtown area’s ability to thrive. The result can be that a community’s sense of identity and culture is quickly lost to larger, national chains that inadvertently instill an identity of monotony and commonness with other communities. This chapter tries to help towns strike a balance between the economic growth of the bypass and the continued economic health of the downtown.

Chapter 5: Planning a New Highway Bypass

Chapter Five outlines the need for a planning process where all of the stakeholders in a new

bypass can be heard. This chapter further outlines several successful planning processes. The chapter then outlines best planning practices for the zoning and urban design around a new highway bypass.


Chapter 1: What is a Highway Bypass?

A History of Bypasses:

It is important to understand the direct

link between highway design and bypass

provide an alternate route for through traffic using that highway.”2

implementation. It can be argued that the

In these cases, bypasses are intended to allow

proliferation of bypasses are the result of

traffic to flow uninterrupted “around” an urban

America’s attitude toward the role of highways

area, while intra-city/town traffic becomes more

in the early and mid-20th century. The rise of

localized to those vehicles not traveling between

bypasses can be viewed within the context of


the movement for ‘good roads’ at the end of

the 19th century and the establishment of the

London, the New Road of 1756 connected

interstate highway system in the 20th century.

Paddington and Islington along the northern

boundary of the city so through traffic could

The definition of a bypass is simply

The idea of a bypass is an old one. In

a road which divides off from another road

avoid the city center. 3 In 1932, the American

to route around a city or congested urban

Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO)

area and then reconnects with the original

allowed cities to construct ‘alternate’ routes

road. Bypass routes have a number of official

without permission of the AASHO as long as

designations including alternate, business,

those routes reconnected to the main route.

bypass, optional, spur, temporary and truck.


Most bypasses are roads of similar

Many times, a highway or bypass is designated

size and carrying capacity to the road being

by a three digit number beginning with an even

bypassed. Bypass roads might have more

digit, but this pattern does not always hold.

limited access points than the road that they

Highway bypasses are typically understood as

replace to speed traffic or they might have a

an alternative route around an urban area that

different type of traffic i.e. a truck or business

maintains high-speeds and “little interference.”

route. A bypass is usually seen as the secondary

“Generally [the bypasses] relocate the highway

route and can be routed through the city on

alignment around a downtown, an urban or metropolitan area or an existing highway to 1 Robert V. Droz, http://www.us-highways.com/#olduslog 7/7/2009

2 Amendment to 1999 Oregon Highway Plan Bypass Policy, April 16, 2003 3 Chris Marshall, www.cbrd.co.uk, http://www.cbrd.co.uk/histories/ ringways/background/earlyplans.shtml 7/7/2009

existing streets or constructed as a new road. In either case, the bypass is always a part of a city and can be integrated in at a later time.

While a bypass road has great influence

over the development of a town, the advent of the interstate highway system amplified the affect that a bypass has on a community and in many cases made the bypass more important than the community. Billed as the largest “public works” project in history, the U.S. Interstate System was signed into law by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in

Image 1: Interstate construction (c. 1960)

September of 1956. Eisenhower laid out his aims for the new interstate highway system in his inaugural address of 1955 4 by stating: “A modern, efficient highway system is essential to meet the needs of our growing population, our expanding economy, and our national security”. 5 While the rationale for the system was national defense as well as the growing ‘need’ of American motorists, the project was just as much a public works program to provide economic stimulus.6 The project was a vast 4 Weingroff, Richard F. U.S. Department of Transportation / Federal Highway Administration. “The Year of the Interstate” http://www. tfhrc.gov/pubrds/06jan/01.htm 5 American Studies of the University of Groningen, “Dwight Eisenhower, State of the Union 1955”, From Revolution to Reconstruction , http://www.let.rug.nl/usa/P/de34/speeches/de_1955.htm, 7/7/2009. 6 Tom Lewis, Divided Highways, (New York:Penguin) 1979, p. 85-88

Image 2: Interstate 80 construction over the Sierra Nevada


undertaking, originally scheduled to be completed in 1972, and permanently altered the landscape and development of the American town and city.

The initial philosophy behind the

interstate system encouraged the concept of bypassing urban areas. In 1939, Norman Bel Geddes (one of the visionaries behind America’s interstate system) stated, “Motorways must not be allowed to infringe upon the city.” The idea behind this notion of initial separation

Image 3: Leisure activities along the uninterrupted countryside

between the urban area and the interstate was

highway is to peripherally link city to city.

proper land use. He went on to say, “… where

[the highways] do provide access to the city,

system throughout the 20th century has

highways must take on low-speed geometries

ignored this basic design principal in many

of avenues and boulevards… the city does not

cases. Typically two scenarios contradicting

allow itself to grow along the highway. Where

the basic premise of bypassing the city center

high-speed roads pass through the countryside,

have been allowed to occur: 1) the highway/

roadside development is not permitted. The

bypass is constructed directly through the city,

results of these rules are plain to see in much of

or 2) a bypass is constructed without access

Western Europe: cities, for the most part, have

control and unregulated growth is allowed

retained their pedestrian-friendly quality, and

to occur around the bypass. The planning of

most highways provide views of uninterrupted

highways straight through urban areas is a

countryside.”7 In Bel Geddes’ view, the urban

direct result of a political battle that occurred

core of the city must be preserved while the

during the writing of the Interstate Highway

7 Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (New York: North Point Press, 2000), p. 87.

However, the evolution of the interstate

Act. By planning interstate highway miles in the jurisdiction of major cities, political support to

pass the Act was assured - funds would be distributed to those cities for construction jobs and greater road access for cities would be available. Only a decade later, would public opinion realize the devastating blow these interstates through the city would have. The new interstate routes through cities would divide cities from their waterfronts, divide and destroy usually poor, but stable, neighborhoods and encourage commuting from outside the city to only the city center.

The second scenario is one that is more

prevalent in Mississippi, where jurisdictions due to existing conditions and the desire of landowners to profit from a bypass, do not control the land use around the bypass. Perhaps this resistance to controlling land use and roadway access comes from the states wresting control of bypass routing from the AASHO in 1932. In either case, development catering to high speed auto traffic around the bypass area

Image 4: Highway congestion

then occurs with an increase in curb cuts and a

urban congestion becomes congested,

decrease in traffic speed. Frontage roads also

necessitating another bypass to the city center

increase development and cause more traffic on

farther out.

the bypass. Through this additional access and

Bypasses can be seen in virtually every

loading of the highway bypass the original aim

metropolitan area and many smaller cities in

is denied. A road meant to speed traffic around

the United States. The evolution of the


American city correlates closely with the development of our interstate systems. As our governments are willing to build and subsidize the building of more and more miles of highways, our citizens will in turn live further away from urban centers and drive more. This greater community places increased strain on not just the highways themselves, but the infrastructure required to sustain these “suburban” and “exurban” communities. According to a traffic study done by the Urban Land Institute, the number of miles traveled by car has increased at eight times the population rate since 1983.8 Suburban and exurban living can have many unintended consequences occur as a result of our current strategy of traffic management. 8 Urban Land Institute Traffic Study…

To help illustrate the basic understanding of highway bypasses and their relationship to the city, below is a series of images of various American cities and communities that have in one way or the other, attempted to bypass urban areas to battle traffic problems:

Starkville, MS

Atlanta, GA

Birmingham, AL

Washington, D.C.


Effects of Bypasses: Bypasses have both their positive and

factor in predicting accident rates on both

negative effects on cities and towns. While it is

freeways and arterials.” By sorting out local

easy to look at all solutions aiding automobile

traffic from intercity traffic, bypasses allow

transportation as unsustainable, auto travel is

higher speeds for the intercity traffic and

currently the primary mode of transportation

slower speeds for the local traffic. Similarly,

for Americans and this fact is not likely to

bypasses can also sort out vehicles types,

change for decades to come. While policies

typically truck from car traffic. Trucks have

that promote alternative modes of transit

different road and clearance characteristics

must be supported and implemented where

than automobiles, i.e. taller clearance, wider

possible, it is unrealistic to assume the entire

turn radii, greater loads on the pavement.

nature of American travel and movement will

A bypass allows communities to better use

be revolutionized overnight. So, it is important

their roadways to avoid excessive wear and

to articulate and reiterate the effects bypasses

accidents due to large truck dimensions.

have on communities, both positive and

Finally, a bypass not only helps the move-


ment of automobiles, but can help the urban

Generally, the intended effects of bypasses are: 1) to route traffic around urban congestion to decrease traffic on the bypassed route and increase safety, 2) to sort out vehicle and trip types to better connect cities, 3) and to remove unwanted congestion, noise and other conditions from the urban center. The decrease in traffic on the bypassed road has not only the effect of better traffic flow, but decreased accident rates as well. In a survey of literature on the causal link between traffic congestion and accident rates, the conclusion is that, “In general, most of the studies found that traffic volume is a significant

core itself. By lowering traffic counts and keeping large trucks and through traffic out of the downtown area, a bypass can make a downtown safer to walk in and less noisy and polluted. Downtown Columbus, Mississippi experienced just such a transformation from their bypass. Before the bypass was built in the 1970s, all traffic moving east and west along Highway 82 went through the downtown area 9 H. Al-Deek and A.E. Radwan, “The Potential Impact of Advanced Traveler Information Systems (ATIS) on Accident Rates in an Urban Transportation Network”, IEEE Vehicle Navigation & Information Systems Conference, Ottawa, 1993. P. 634.

of Columbus. Residents reported that the

There is certainly good empirical evidence

constant traffic moving through day and night

that bypasses can achieve these goals. As a

made the downtown area noisy and polluted.

specific example, a bypass constructed in Eau

When the bypass was completed, much of

Claire, Wisconsin decreased accidents on the

that traffic was diverted. The downtown

bypassed route by 37% and also dropped traffic

area became much safer and more walkable.

on the bypassed road by 50%.11 The Oregon

Some people in Columbus credit this change

Department of Transportation completed a

with starting the growth in residential and

study of 16 completed bypasses in 2002. The

commercial space in Columbus’ downtown

study found that “[the bypasses] all appear to be


fulfilling their purposes.

10 Conversation with Sam Coy, architect, Columbus, MS, September 2008

11 WEAU.com, “Looking at the Impact of the Highway 53 Bypass One Year Later”, Posted: 9:22 PM Aug 21, 2007 Last Updated: 9:22 PM Aug 21, 2007 Reporter: Katie Heinz http://www.weau.com/home/headlines/9301146.html


Columbus, MS

Bypass Route: Downtown Route:


They have diverted traffic from downtowns

and widening existing roads, almost always

and appear to be increasing safety.”12 With the

motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing

intended consequences of a bypass, there are

to reduce traffic. In fact, it simply increases the

also unintended and negative consequences for

incentive for motorists to drive and therefore

the city. The same unintended consequences

increases traffic… This paradox was suspected

are: 1) the added capacity does not solve the

as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed

problem of congestion, 2) poor land use control

that the highways he had built around New

allows the bypass to become congested with

York City in 1939 were somehow generating

traffic and simply multiplies the traffic problem,

greater traffic problems than had existed

3) the bypass pulls retail and business from the


downtown to the bypass area and weakens

strategy of eliminating or reducing lanes may

the downtown, 4) the bypass weakens the

be the best.

distinctive character of a town because of the

In some cases, the opposite

In Seoul, South Korea, this strategy of

standardized, national retail on the bypass and

reduction was implemented with unexpected

5) the bypass increases residents’ dependence

results. “When planners in Seoul tore down

on the automobile.

a six-lane highway a few years ago and

Many times, bypasses are built simply to

replaced it with a five-mile-long park, many

relieve congestion on the road being bypassed.

transportation professionals were surprised

Typically, increased traffic congestion is dealt

to learn that the city’s traffic flow had actually

with by increasing the number of lanes. This

improved, instead of worsening.”14 This result

strategy is used in communities and large cities

confirmed Braess’ paradox, a principle in

alike. This “more lanes = less congestion”

understanding efficient movement within a

strategy seems intuitive, but scientific studies

given system. According to Braess’ paradox,

show that increasing lanes can backfire. “The

“… in a network in which all moving entities

simple truth is that building more highways

13 Duany, Plater-Zyberk, and Speck. Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream (New York: North Point Press, 2000), p. 88. 14 Baker, Linda. Scientific American. “Detours by Design.” http:// web.ebscohost.com/ehost/delivery?vid=5&hid=6&sid=b9cb97...

12 Oregon Department of Transportation, Bypass Study 2002, An Analysis of Oregon´s Existing Bypasses, http://www.oregon.gov/ ODOT/TD/TP/orhwyplan.shtml#Bypasses_, 7/9/2009.

rationally seek the most efficient route, adding

Positive Effects of Bypasses:

extra capacity can actually reduce the network’s overall efficiency. The Seoul project inverts this

Route traffic around congested areas Sort out vehicle and trip types Remove unwanted noise and congestion from town centers Makes downtown areas safer

dynamic: closing a highway—that is, reducing network capacity—improves the system’s effectiveness.”15 Hyejin Youn, Hawoog Jeong and Michael Gastner have tested Braess’ Paradox using real world roads and data. In optimizing the trip between Harvard Square and Boston Common, the team found that they could close down six

Negative Effects of Bypasses:

streets and decrease travel time. Atlanta, GA is arguably one of America’s

Adds capacity but does not necessarily solve congestion

most notorious cities when it comes to

Poor land use allows bypass to become congested with traffic and multiplies the problem

ever driven through the city, especially on the

Bypass pulls retail and business from the downtown to the bypass and weakens the distinctive character of the town Bypass increases residents’ dependency on the automobile

vehicular traffic problems. Most who have bypasses, note how inefficient the system seems to be. According to USA Today, “Atlanta has built more miles of highways per capita than any other urban area except Kansas City… As a result of the area’s sprawl, Atlantans now drive an average of 35 miles a day, more than residents of any other city”.16

15 Baker, Linda. Scientific American. “Detours by Design.” http:// web.ebscohost.com/ehost/delivery?vid=5&hid=6&sid=b9cb97... 16 USA Today…


This diagram illustrates some of the most highly trafficked areas of Atlanta’s bypass system. Notice that some of the most congested areas (non green colors) cover much of the bypass area, where traffic is supposed to be more efficient. As a consequence of this city’s reliance on automobiles and road-building commitment, the problem feeds on itself, and only increases in scope as residents increase their driving habits with the increased capacity.

Image 5: Traffic in Atlanta

In the Washington, D.C. Metropolitan area,

In addition, it also should be noted that traffic

the failure of more capacity to solve traffic

in cities like Atlanta has gotten so problematic

problems has a well documented history. The

that no time of day is immune from severe

Capitol Beltway is a 64 mile long interstate

congestion. Motorists can even experience

highway that encircles Washington, D.C. The

delays at night, because construction crews are

Beltway, envisioned in the 1950s, was opened

relentlessly working to increase lane capacity.

in 1964 with two lanes in each direction. Since then, the entire beltway has been expanded to four lanes in each direction. At certain points, the Capitol Beltway is ten lanes wide.17 Since its inception, the beltway traffic has tripled. Even with four lanes in each direction, congestion now exceeds three hours at rush hour. Segments of the Capitol Beltway now serve approximately 225,000 vehicles a day.

Atlanta, GA

17 Scott M. Kozel, “The Captitol Beltway (I-495 and I-95)”, Roads to the Future, Website: http://www.roadstothefuture.com/Capital_Beltway.html, (Created 8-14-1997; last updated 9-30-2007).

By the year 2020, the Northern Virginia

With this new road capacity, some drivers

Transportation Alliance estimates that 400,000

will switch from alternate local routes that they

vehicles could be using segments of the

took to commute before to the newly expanded


route. Also, the new capacity causes some

Many groups, including the Northern

drivers who shifted their schedule away from

Virginia Transportation Alliance, use figures

peak travel hours to change their commuting

such as these to make a case for transportation

to peak travel hours. Finally, some commuters

alternatives to the original bypass. In fact, many

who were taking public transportation will

plans have been proposed to create “outer

return to the road due to the increased capacity.

beltways” and bypasses the Capitol Beltway.

While the capacity of the roadway is increased,

Some of these plans have proposed a Western

the phenomena of triple convergence creates

Transportation Corridor in Northern Virginia

greater use and therefore traffic congestion

and an Intercounty Connector in Maryland.

on the roadway, eventually bringing the

19 20

Many others, however, see the expansion and addition of further roads as a losing strategy to fight traffic. Anthony Downs,

congestion situation back to where it was before the expanded capacity. The second unintended consequence that a

a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute,

bypass can have is creating additional traffic,

describes the behavior of commuters when a

which negating its purpose because of poor

road is widened or a new route is provided as

and contradictory land planning. As discussed

“triple convergence.” 21

before, an original principal behind interstate highway planning was that the highway would not be open to development; the highway

18 Northern Virginia Transportation Alliance, “Beltway Basics”, http:// www.nvta.org/content.asp?contentid=1264, July 16, 2009. 19 Coalition for Smarter Growth, “Western Transportation Corridor”, Webpage: http://www.smartergrowth.net/issues/transportation/roads/ outerbeltway/vaouterbeltway/wtc/index.html, July 16, 2009. 20 Coalition for Smarter Growth, “Intercounty Connector”, webpage: http://smartergrowth.net/anx/index.cfm/1,137,html/InterCounty-Connector, July 16, 2009.

would simply be the connector between urban centers. The change in the 20th century to an

21 Anthony Downs. Stuck in Traffic. (The Brookings Institution: Washington, D.C.) 1992. P.27-31.


automobile-centered culture in the United

becomes prey to the desire of cities and

States has led to land along the roadway being

individual landowners to capture retail taxes

valued more highly than land in an urban

and dollars for their community. This desire

downtown. The American love affair with the

to develop the bypass area as municipalities

automobile made it possible to do everything

put curb cuts, signals and frontage roads on

from a car: eat, bank, shop and even watch

the bypass, slowing down the traffic flow.

movies. Additionally, the automobile became

Eventually, the bypass area has the same traffic

a way to create class and racial distinctions

congestion, or worse, as the downtown area.

and physically separates the poor from the

A bypass is then sometimes built to bypass the

emerging middle class. By making the suburban

original bypass.

environment only accessible by automobile,

A third unintended consequence is the

the poor would be excluded by their inability

channeling of customers away from the

to afford and maintain automobiles. Even in

traditional economic and cultural heart of

the early 1960s, the value of urban land was

the community. This movement of retail and

dropping due to increased development in

commercial activity is often accepted as the

suburban areas.22

natural progression of a community’s growth.

With this emphasis on the road and

However, the truth is that altering the manner

particularly the highway as being the new

in which residents move within and around a

“Main Street” of American cities, the pressure

community can have immense effects on that

is to make the highway and road the place of

community’s image, economy and development.

commerce. Any bypass becomes the target for

One of the pioneering urban planners and

commerce and retail because of the number

authors of the 20th century, Kevin Lynch,

of vehicles, and therefore customers, that pass

divided our perception of cities into 5

along the road. The ideal of a bypass built to

interrelated categories: paths, edges districts,

speed motorists around an urban area becomes

nodes and landmarks. Of these, path was said

22 Wilbur Smith and Associates. Future Highways and Urban Growth, A report under commission of The Automobile Manufacturer’s Association, February 1961, p. 24.

to be the most important element in someone’s image of that city. “For most people

interviewed, paths were the predominant city

In a study of the economic impact of Wal-

element, although their importance varied to

Mart supercenters on existing businesses

the degree of familiarity with the city.” 23 In

located in Mississippi, the conclusions were

other words, fundamentally altering the manner

that the supercenter captured most of their food

in which residents and visitors move within

sales from existing food stores, that the sale

and throughout any community is a major

of home improvement items from local stores

change that induces both positive and negative

dropped due to the big box home improvement

consequences both economically and socially.

stores locating near the supercenter, that

By placing all of the major commercial

furniture stores located near the supercenter

activities of a town along the strip development

picked up sales from existing furniture stores,

on the bypass, the downtown is no longer seen

and that the supercenter also picked up

as the center of the community. The major path

miscellaneous retail trade as well. The authors’

by which the community is recognized is shifted

sense was that the Wal-Mart supercenter

from the downtown to the bypass. For travelers

was a zero sum gain for the community and

along the bypass, the image of the town is

surrounding communities.24 Other natural

even more distorted, as most will simply travel

studies support this conclusion.

through the bypass commercial area and never see the downtown.

The corollary to the shifting of retail sales and not the growing of retail sales is that tax

The effect of commercial and retail

revenues actually fall. Decreased tax revenue

businesses moving onto the bypass has

and increased costs can occur because of the

enormous economic consequences for the town

negative impact new development can have

as well. While many see retail and commercial

on existing tax base and next demands on

businesses along the bypass as denoting the

infrastructure. Towns need to monitor the tax

growth and strength of the community, the real

base contribution of various uses and predict

story may not be so straightforward.

how new development will affect their tax base.

23 Lynch, Kevin. The Image Of The City (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1960), p. 46

24 Stone, Artiz and Myles, “The Economic Impact of Walmart Supercenters on Existing Businesses in Mississippi.”


The fourth unintended consequence of

Certainly standardized retail development

a highway bypass is the weakening of the

exists for a reason. For travelers and for

distance character of a town.

residents, the recognition of a brand provides

One of the most notable aspects of modern

the promise of a particular level of product

interstate travel is the image of homogeneity

quality and service. Typically, these businesses

one perceives when travelling the highway,

flock to the newly implemented bypass projects

whether in Mississippi or Kansas. Whatever

for availability of land, lack of regulation and

“aesthetics” are available to the traveler along

proximity to highly trafficked areas. However,

the routes seem to be incidental, rather than

national retail chains share little in common

planned. “The Interstates have never been

historically with any particular

able to shake the cookie-cutter image, the idea that travelling the Interstates involves the ‘mind-numbing monotony’ of travelling on ‘brain-deadening’ roads in an ‘effortless, rolling trance’… Apart from simple aesthetic issues, the Interstates have been blamed for many perceived ills of the American society, from sprawl to air pollution to a lack of sense of place, from racial tensions to alienation to dependence on foreign oil.”25 In addition,

Image 6: AT&T, BP, Starbucks,Wal-Mart, Target, Texaco

the development that does happen along the

community. The predominance of retail that

interstate is typically standardized, adding to

can be found anywhere in the United States on

the sense of monotony and dread people feel

similar bypass intersections can dilute the local

when they travel.

identity and culture.

25 Weingroff, Richard F. U.S. Department of Transportation / Federal Highway Administration. “The Year of the Interstate” http://www. tfhrc.gov/pubrds/06jan/01.htm Institute for Local Self-Residence, “Key Studies on Big-Box Retail”, www.bigbox.com

The fifth unitended consequence of bypass development is even greater reliance on automobile travel. When retail commercial

development is allowed to line the highway

If retail and services are placed on a bypass

bypass, the walkable downtown business

only accessible by automobile, many of these

district becomes replaced by the new car-only

advantages from walking are lost.

environment. Residential areas on the bypass

As previously stated, many of the positive

are also automobile-centered, reducing walking

consequences of implementing a bypass need

or bicycling. Traffic congestion, pollution and

to be balanced with a new urban dynamic that

even community health is affected.

a bypass can create. As economic development

A study undertaken by Georgia Tech and

moves to the new bypass, which is often

the University of British Columbia on the effects

located on the outskirts of or outside the city

of being able to walk in a neighborhood versus

altogether, residents begin frequenting that

driving had results that, while not unexpected,

area and business and population looks to

are important to note. The study, which took

relocate to that area. This situation can result

place in Atlanta, found that those in the most

in the significant depletion of population from

walkable neighborhoods drove 30% more than

the center of the city and depletion of taxes

those in the least walkable neighborhoods

to the city. This population and commercial

during the weekday, and 40% more on the

change encourages urban and suburban

week-end. Neighborhood walkability leads to

sprawl, which disconnects and fragments

less pollutants and CO2 in the air, and 20% less

communities. In addition, urban and suburban

CO2 in the walkable neighborhoods. In terms of

communities become more homogeneous as

health, those in highly walkable neighborhoods

our geographical landscape coincides with the

were 2.4 times more likely to get the exercise

social hierarchy (i.e. white flight).

they needed per day than in automobile-

The effect our transportation strategies

centered neighborhoods. Finally, those in

have had on our quality of life are manifested

walkable neighborhoods saved an estimated

in the way we live today. Understanding how

262 gallons of gasoline a year.

the design of bypasses can either enhance or


26 Goldberg, Frank, McCann, Chapman & Kavage. New Data for a New Era, A Summary of the SMARTRAQ Findings. January 2007. Pg. 8-10.

deplete social, economic and physical resources is critical to how any community responds.


Types of Bypasses: While bypasses are typically composed of

Autonomous Bypass:

Perhaps the most prevalent and

similar elements and functions, distinctions can

potentially socioeconomically damaging version

be made in how bypasses relate to the urban

of the modern bypass could be described as an

area they bypass. By categorizing bypasses,

“autonomous� bypass. As the name suggests,

we can better understand their effects on

this scenario exists where the intersection

urban areas. Like most other areas of study,

of a bypass or interstate and community

bypasses cannot be stereotyped or given a

thoroughfare becomes an economic competitor

short definition that describes any and all cases

to the traditional town or city center. It is

where they have been implemented. While

important at this juncture to not confuse the

bypasses typically serve a common function,

modern-day version of an autonomous bypass

their characteristics and strategies can vary

to the type of interstate system envisioned by

significantly between cities and communities.

Norman Bel Geddes (as cited previously). The

A few examples of bypass systems have

difference lays in America’s infatuation with

already been mentioned, but this section will

the automobile and short-sighted economic

go into detail and help identify what we see as

pursuits, resulting in little or no regulation

three substantially different types of bypasses

along bypasses. The result is two-fold, both

that exist in America today. In addition, it is

damaging the cultural image of the city to

important to note that the affects bypasses have

passersby and shifting the local economy away

on communities and cities across the country

from traditional business hubs.

are integrated closely with the overall context

of the U.S. Interstate system. Many of the

strategy is that the community eventually

same principles have been implemented along

becomes less and less attractive to those

highway routes, whether they are a part of a

passing through. Often times, regulations are

particular bypass or an interregional roadway.

lax regarding new bypasses, and unrestricted

The worry with this autonomous bypass

economic growth occurs in and around the new intersection, eventually creating the same problems that spurred the initiation of the bypass project to begin with. In addition, as businesses move from

The image below graphically explains the scenario in which the implementation of a bypass encourages economic movement from the city center to the bypass itself, resulting in a depleted city center and eventual loss of local culture.

the traditional downtown they leave behind vacated and deteriorating buildings. Simultaneously, new construction along the bypasses is often cheap both monetarily and architecturally. This results in a depleted image for the city and an unsustainable built environment. Infrastructure demands become increasingly difficult to manage as development begins to sprawl both commercially and residentially. As this situation evolves over time, it becomes a recurring pattern in which poorly built strip malls are eventually vacated, and businesses moves to a newer version of the same scenario. We are already seeing the repercussions of this perpetual cycle of haphazard development

MS. Soon after a highway bypass was in place,

at the front end of the 21st century. As discussed

a new hotel, restaurant, and bank were under

earlier, commuters are beginning to reach the

construction. Potentially unrestrained development

limit as to how far they can travel daily within one

will occur here to serve the high-traffic area right off

metropolitan area. At the town and community

one of the bypass intersections. Starkville may end

scale, this same scenario is playing out and

up with numerous restaurants and hotels along the

decimating the unique culture of so many of these

new bypass, but they will likely be national chains


and not local businesses. With an influx of chains

This illustrates what is beginning to happen along the newly implemented bypass in Starkville,

competing with local businesses, Starkville could become less unique.


This is the story of so many communities

trivialities. City character would be blurred

across the country, especially Mississippi.

until every place became more like every other

For Starkville, hosting a university may

place, all adding up to Noplace”.27

help alleviate or postpone this scenario,

The central point to be made here is

as many within the university community

that our current approach to solving traffic

realize and support cultural aspects of this

problems is fundamentally unsustainable.

city. Unfortunately, most small towns across

Without instituting and enforcing proper

Mississippi and the country do not have this

land-use regulation (to be discussed later),

“safety net,” and will potentially suffer with the

constructing an autonomous bypass virtually

implementation of an unregulated bypass.

masks the true problem temporarily, while

introducing a whole new set of social and

This scenario is just another example of

our willingness to fundamentally alter our cities

economic issues that alter a community’s ability

and towns in a way that changes not only the

to function sustainably for decades to come.

proper notion of path (as discussed previously),

but also forces a community’s economy to

bypass is the scenario in which the most

become subservient to a single entity, the car.

problems can potentially occur. It must be

Well-known urbanist and author Jane Jacobs

reiterated here that the “autonomous” bypass

summed up this notion in her book The Death

is being discussed within the context of little,

and Life of Great American Cities.

no, or irresponsible regulation of economic

“The city streets would be broken down

development, which is often the case. Rather

into loose sprawls, incoherent and vacuous

than being integrated and interdependent, in

for anyone afoot. Downtowns and other

this scenario a substantial split is being made

neighborhoods that are marvels of close-

between the urban center and the circulation

grained intricacy and compact mutual support

paths. Obviously, new bypasses will provide

would be casually disemboweled. Landmarks

roads in which to reach the urban and cultural

As stated earlier, the “autonomous”

would be crumbled or so sundered from their contexts in city life as to become irrelevant

27 Jacobs, Jane. The Death and Life of Great American Cities. (New York: Random House, Inc., 1961), p. 339

centers of these communities, but that

bypass runs south of the city, in effect

experience is no longer intuitive and now

completely bypassing the downtown area. In

requires a conscious decision on the part of

addition, this interstate (I-459) is intersected

the traveler to visit parts of the community

by a 4-lane highway running north towards

traditionally considered most “valuable�. In

downtown and south to the suburbs and

other words, bypasses make it a step harder

exurbs. Over the years, this intersection several

for visitors to reach the very things residents

miles south of downtown Birmingham has

cherish most about their communities. This will

become arguably the single most congested

eventually result in the loss of value to those

point of traffic circulation in all of the

entities that were once so important.

Birmingham area. Large malls supported by

An example of an autonomous bypass on

additional retail have sprung up all along this

a larger scale that expresses some of these

area, and it has become an economic center in

concerns lies within the metropolitan area of

of itself that serves both residents of the

Birmingham, AL. A substantial interstate

Birmingham area and those traveling through

Birmingham, AL


the area. The retail value of this area has

great cultural, business, and entertainment

become quite substantial, and many visitors

activity has seen its urban center decrease

drive hours from other parts of Alabama or

substantially over the years. Many people

even adjacent states to shop and eat in this

visit Birmingham and never venture far from


the bypass, and leave knowing nothing of any

In the image above, note the larger,

unique character of the central city. To many, a

traditional urban center of Birmingham,

visit to “Birmingham” is no different than metro

AL. As the city grew southward, a bypass

Atlanta, Dallas, or Nashville. The restaurants

was implemented to avoid the downtown

and stores visitors frequent on the bypass are

area. The result has created an entirely new

identical to establishments they can visit in any

economic focal point around the intersection

city of comparable size. When the perception

of the bypass and Highway 280, running north.

of a city as being identical to other cities sets in,

While economic and residential development

this perception reduces the community’s ability

have boomed in this area, traffic congestion

to market itself as unique in any way over the

problems have arguable become more

long term.

prevalent here than any other locale within the

The autonomous bypass takes advantage

metropolitan area. Even more interesting is

of the economic, transportation and real estate

the fact that plans are in the works to replicate

forces of today. The advantage of using the

the southern bypass on the northern side of

existing model is that economic development

Birmingham, effectively creating a “bypass

along the bypass happens quickly in an

loop” around the city, similar to those seen in

easily predicted and well known area. The

Atlanta and Washington, D.C.

recongestion of the bypass roadway, the

In many ways, this situation has been

draining of retail, office and commercial from

a positive for the Birmingham area with

the downtown area, and the obliteration of local

increased shopping areas and restaurants.

character are all evident today. The question

The negatives of this development perhaps

for towns choosing this route is whether in the

outweigh the positives. Birmingham, with

long run this model will benefit their town.

Parkway Bypass: The second type of bypass is the “parkway bypass”. The notion of a parkway bypass relies largely on four principles: the necessity of a bypass, strict regulation of development around the area of the bypass, a “park-like” driving experience, and the importance of marking the traditional urban center from the new bypass.

were anything but, both Olmsted and Vaux saw parkway as a progressive term that described American’s love for pastoral landscapes. These parkways were tree lined streets for upper income people to enjoy carriage rides on, but also provided local parks for the less affluent through footpaths and other amenities.28 With the advent of the automobile, the parkway took a step up in scale. In 1925, the Bronx River Parkway, the first limited access automobile parkway in the United States, was opened. This parkway was a fifteen mile road that had as its major purpose not transportation, but driving for pleasure. The Bronx River Parkway was joined by larger scenic parkways including the Colonial Parkway (1930), the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway (1932) and then the Blue Ridge (1935) and Natchez Trace Parkways (1938). The goals of these parkways were similar,

Many different types of roads are described as parkways, so it is important to understand the history of the term. Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux used the term “parkway”

to provide a route for heritage tourism and an escape for metropolitan motorists. While the idea of a beautifully landscaped road for pleasure driving continued, the definition

to describe their remaking of streets for the Brooklyn park system. Tired of the abuse of the term “boulevard” to describe streets that

28 Timothy Davis. “A Pleasant Illusion of Unspoiled Countryside.” Constructing Image, Identity and Place. (Univ. of Tenn. Press: Knoxville) 2003. P.230-231


of the parkway has been expanded much as the definition of the boulevard was expanded in Olmsted and Vaux’s time. Parkways can often refer to circulation routes that carry motorists through a metropolitan area (as will be discussed with the George Washington Parkway). They can also refer to travelling routes that traverse many cities and communities, such as the Image 7: Bronx River Parkway

Natchez Trace Parkway. A parkway can also refer to a thoroughfare that brings travelers from a primary circulation artery, such as an interstate to a city center. It is important to note that all three of these scenarios typically consist of a concerted effort to enhance natural aesthetics of the roadway whether existing or implemented. By limiting or strictly regulating economic development along these routes,

Image 8: Blue Ridge Parkway

communities can channel potential patrons to areas of town that most benefit the community wholly, as well as enhance a natural landscape that can in turn enhance the community’s image. Parkways can not only retain the natural and historic aspects of our roadways, but enhance them. Parkways in general tend to focus largely on natural landscapes and creating pleasant experiences, rather than homogeneous and bland experiences. This same idea of

Image 9: Natchez Trace

a landscaped roadway can be translated to

Another version of the parkway can be

bypasses. For example, the George Washington

found locally in Mississippi: The Natchez Trace

Memorial Parkway linking Mt. Vernon, Virginia

Parkway. Drawing on the natural beauty and

with Great Falls, Maryland along the Potomac

unique history of the state, the route traverses

River has served as an alternate circulation

three states and follows a historic American

path for the Washington metropolitan area for

Indian trail which was later adopted by

over 75 years. Considered an “oasis to urban

settlers to become a major route. The Trace

development,” the “G.W. Parkway” serves as a

was designed to highlight the vernacular

circulation path, a scenic route, a link to historic

landscape and history of the route. While the

American sites, as well as a cycling and running

Trace Parkway was never meant to supplant


the interstate highway system to provide transportation capacity, the road, unlike some other parkways, was designed for use by working farmers.29 The Natchez Trace was also designed to be used and accessed by motorists, cyclists, hikers, horseback riders, and campers.30 The fact that a roadway can be used in so many ways is a result of good design with clear

Washington Parkway

objectives. Implementing or enhancing a parkway bypass has enormous potential if done properly. Limiting development along these portions of a highway can allow for an aesthetically pleasing strip of road, while simultaneously sending a

Image 10: Natchez Trace Parkway

29 Timonthy Davis. “A Pleasant illusion of Unspoiled Countryside”. Constructing Image, Identity, and Place. (Univ. of Tenn. Press: Knoxville). 2003. P. 239. 30 “Natchez Trace Parkway.” U.S. National Park Service. http://www. nps.gov/natr/


area. A city needs to weigh both of these short and long term interests when embarking on a parkway bypass.

Image 11: George Washington Parkway

Intratown Bypass:

message of concern for the environment and the history of the area to those passing by. If

A third type of bypass is the “intratown”

little commercial development is allowed at

bypass or route. Just as it sounds, these

these portions of highway, the ability for the

“intratown” routes promote traffic going

community to market its downtown core is

through the community, thus avoiding literally

increased tremendously, as signage listing a

“bypassing” the community. With this model,

community’s assets is no longer being drowned

traffic is ideally allocated to its function,

out by innumerable other advertisements and

channeling specific types of traffic and vehicles

businesses. In addition, the image that the

to specific routes designed to accommodate

community itself presents can be made unique.

each. For example, various routes through the

A parkway bypass offers many benefits to a

town can be designed and are designated as

town: increased and faster access to other urban

“truck routes”, “local traffic”, and “thru- traffic”.

areas, no competition from the bypass to the

This option relies heavily on proper land use

existing commercial area of the city, and the

zoning regulations (as will be discussed later)

potential for a beautiful, unique entrance into

within the community itself. This intratown

the city. The potential downsides of a parkway

model is also difficult to implement if various

bypass are restrictions that prevent profit to

communal functions (industrial, retail,

those owning land along the bypass and the

residential, etc…) are located haphazardly in the

potential loss of big box business which refuses

community. The idea of separating traffic within

to site in a downtown or existing commercial

a town is an an old one as we have seen in the

general history of bypasses. There are many different types of alternate routes through cities and towns that have been developed. Some are differentiated by the type of vehicle allowed, such as truck routes. Others try to segregate different trip types, such as a business

Image 12: Highway signage

routes. The idea behind all of these routes is to

requirements to handle large trucks, lanes that

put traffic of similar types together to help traffic

are wide with breakdown lanes or adequate

flow. Each of these routes would have different

road shoulders and underpasses that meet the

requirements and demands.

height requirements of the trucks. Sometimes

The truck route has several requirements

what is missed is that trucks, especially

to make it a viable option. First, the route needs

interstate trucking, require many services such

to connect to places that trucks service; either

as diesel fuel, rest areas with truck parking,

the route is simply a swift route around the

truck stops with full overnight facilities, etc.

urban core and connects through the city or it

All of these factors need to be thought of in the

also connects with warehouse and industrial

design of a truck route.

areas of the city. Truck routes need to avoid

Likewise, a business route should be

residential areas and sometimes main downtown

designed to cater to mostly local, slow-moving

retail areas. Truck routes should also be more

traffic. The business route has an entirely

direct with fewer traffic signals. Truck routes

different goal than a bypass or truck route. A

obviously need to have the physical

business route should account for turns,


sidewalks, and more traffic signals. A business

and narrowness derived part of their

route should be modeled on an avenue or

importance from the common association of

boulevard, allowing a mix of transportation

main streets with width and side streets with


narrowness. Looking for, and trusting to the

It is important to note here that what is not being proposed is zoning of functions

‘main’ (i.e. wide) street becomes automatic…”.31 In addition, everything from façade

within a community. Much research has

characteristics to pavement texture have

been conducted arguing for “mixed-use”

been documented to be factors in allowing

development as the most sustainable form of

pedestrians and motorists to identify with

urban development. However, distinctions can

a particular “district” or “path” within the

be made between areas of a community that are

urban context.32 The amount of building

primarily industrial versus residential versus

setback specified in zoning controls whether

municipal. Mixed-use development should

the street feels more or less enclosed, which

happen within various larger use districts. The

is a major cue to drivers regarding vehicle

key is to understand that allowing motorists

speed. A “bumpier” pavement such as brick,

to move through communities and cities along

the density of street trees, and the treatment

routes that cater more to their needs can aid in

of intersections can all be cues to drivers that

creating efficient transportation networks.

slower speeds are appropriate. Likewise, the

lack of road enclosure, vertical elements and

In creating these intracity bypass routes,

many design factors should be considered, not

increased distance for visibility cue drivers to

just the characteristics of the roadway itself.

increase speeds.

The width of streets is certainly a main design

Intratown bypasses are an age old solution

decision. “Characteristic spatial qualities were

to traffic congestion, but they are more

able to strengthen the image of particular

dependent on appropriate zoning, planning,

paths. In the simplest sense, streets that

and existing conditions than other bypass

suggest extremes of either width or narrowness

31 Lynch, Kevin. The Image Of The City. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1960), p. 50-51 32 Lynch, Kevin. The Image Of The City. (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1960), p. 51

attracted attention… Spatial qualities of width

solutions. Many times, an intratown bypass

6,000,000 residents, this area is connected by

can be much less expensive to implement

a large and complex system of interstates and

than a highway bypass that skirts the town.

secondary highways. The most direct link

However, the intratown bypass cannot work

between the two major cities of the area is

autonomously from the town, but has direct

Interstate 30, running east and west. The Dallas

implications for every area of the town.

metropolitan area experiences major traffic

Intercity Bypass: Many times, two communities or cities are situated close enough together that a dedicated roadway is built to efficiently connect the two. These “intercity bypasses” can be found in many large metropolitan areas across America such as Minneapolis-St. Paul, DallasArlington-Ft. Worth, and the Australian city of Melbourne. As with other types of bypasses, intercity routes have complicated and varying effects on the surrounding communities. Economic activity may improve or deteriorate depending on a multitude of factors. The effects of these bypasses are often determined in part due to the way in which access to the freeway has been instituted and regulated, as

congestion on a regular basis, seemingly due to

has been discussed previously.

the implementation of the flawed philosophy of

A typical example is the Dallas-Arlington-Ft. Worth metropolitan area. Home to more than

“more roads = less congestion.” The Dallas Fort Worth area is encircled by a large system of


interstate routes that were designed to ease

connected by Interstate 94. According to

traffic going through the more dense urban

various accounts, this route remains a high-

areas. Now the “outer ring” interstates are

traffic one with significant delays for travelers

often as congested as or worse than the original

and commuters on a consistent basis. In

routes running directly through the city.

response to the traffic, a study conducted by

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is working to

the Minnesota Department of Transportation

alleviate traffic congestion through a long range

explored the viability of message systems that

transit system plan. The Trinity Railway Express

relayed critical information to motorists that

(TRE) is a 35 mile commuter rail line linking

affected their commute along this route.34

Dallas with Fort Worth. Opened in 1996, the

According to the study, 61% of motorists

TRE has an annual ridership of approximately

who noticed the signs felt that the information

2.5 million passengers.33 In addition to express

they provided were useful in aiding their

rail service, the transit authorities in the Dallas-

travelling decisions. While these “reactive”

Fort Worth region have established express bus

systems do help traffic flow, much of the

service and HOV lanes between the two cities

problems of these intercity bypasses stem from

as well.

a fundamentally flawed idea that congestion

Another example is the twin cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul which are directly

can be overcome entirely by increasing capacity. While these intercity bypasses are usually built in a functional manner that does not celebrate their purpose of linking one municipal center with another, an intercity bypass that tries to do more can be found in the area surrounding Melbourne, Australia. The Craigieburn Bypass is part of the Hume

Minneapolis - St.Paul

Highway that connects the cities of Sydney and

33 DART. “Trinity Railway Express (TRE)”, Internet http://www.dart. org/riding/tre.asp, August 3, 2009.

34 “Intelligent Transportation Systems.” Research and Innovative Technology Administration. http://www .itsbenefits.its.dot.gov/its/ benecost.nsf/0/ACCC9254FAD906A885257260006FB216

Melbourne. The Craigieburn Bypass creates a new gateway into Melbourne by diverting east of the Hume Highway to connect to the Ring Road of Melbourne. The Craigieburn Bypass project was envisioned to relieve significant congestion along the Hume Highway, between Craigieburn and Campbellfield, as well as improve the access route into Melbourne. Construction began in May of 2002 on the 17 kilometer stretch of four lane freeway that bypasses Craigieburn and Campbellfield. The goals of the project include: reducing transportation time between the two cities, improving safety and road conditions, improving the access of industrial transport vehicles to key regions surrounding the bypass, as well as create an access route to Melbourne that was both efficient and aesthetically unique.35

The Craigieburn Bypass integrates

architecture, landscaping and sculpture to produce a rich experience of entry into Melbourne, incorporating noise barriers, an emergency service vehicle access way, a bike and pedestrian path and footbridge, and an 35 Northern City Projects. “Craigieburn Bypass Community Opening Event.” Craigieburn Bypass Project: VicRoads. 31 August 2007. http:// www.vicroads.vic.gov.au/Home/RoadsAndProjects/RoadProjects/ CompletedRoadsPrjoect/Craigieburn+Bypass+Project.htm

Image 13: Craigieburn Bypass

LED lighting system called the “Northern Lights” that on the average night reads the message “are we there yet,” but which can also be used to communicate with motorists in the event of an accident or emergency. The design of the Craigieburn Bypass blurs the boundaries between functional and sculptural features to create an experience that is both contextual and new, and sets an aesthetic benchmark for highway projects. The design concept of the bypass sought to respond to two urban conditions on both sides of the bypass roadway: the western condition of grasslands and parklands leading to the Great Dividing Range, the major mountain range running along the east coast of the continent, and the eastern condition of suburbs and freeways. Thus, the first half of the length of the bypass is inspired by snaking lava flows, the second half by the lace


Image 14: Pedestrian bridge over Craigieburn Bypass

curtains and louvered blinds of suburbia.36 As

“Driving towards the city along the gently

you approach Melbourne from the northern

rising and curling bypass, a comprehension

suburbs, a ribbon-like arc of Cor-ten steel (the

that the Great Dividing Range has now been

noise attenuation wall) sails up alongside the

crested and an anticipation that the city lies

roadway, eventually gliding above to create

ahead is created with an extended tilting arc of

a pedestrian bridge that also frames the first

corten steel.”

view of the metropolis beyond. An intriguing description is provided by Leon Van Schaik:

Immediately after passing through this gateway a long array of blue blades emerges, coiling alongside the side of the roadway and

36, 37 Leon Van Schaik, “Craigieburn Bypass”, Architecture Australia, July/August 2005, Online http://www.archmedia.com.au/aa/aaissue.ph p?article=12&issueid=200507&typeon=2#top

finally peeling off and lying down alongside. This second “suburban” half also includes a

The gateway to Melbourne is naturally of a larger scale, and more elaborate, than would be appropriate for most rural communities, but it is right for a major city, and beautifully frames views of the urban center that create anticipation and excitement of arrival into Melbourne. Likewise, the budget for such a Image 15: Craigieburn Bypass

major project probably exceeds that which is

lace-etched acrylic screen and array of LED

available to most small towns. But the idea of a

lights. While the Craigieburn bypass project

holistic integration of landscape, architecture,

is notable for its design, it does not neglect

and art within the landscape of mobility, and

responsible environmental management or

the quality and craft of this gateway make it an

protection of cultural heritage. The landscaping

important reference point even for the smallest

was selected with attention to the indigenous

bypass gateway project.

plant community (because of a preference

voiced by the local community and other

same challenges as a parkway bypass, but with

stakeholders). Water treatments such as

the added dimension of connecting two urban

wetlands, sedimentation basins and grass

areas, both functionally as a commuting road

swales were created to protect streams from

and symbolically as a gateway between the

pollutants in storm water runoff, both during

two cities. The problem of commuting needs

construction and operation. The aboriginal

to be addressed both from the design of the

Wurujunderi community was consulted about

roadway but also through other means of

preservation of areas of cultural significance.

transportation, rail, bus and high occupancy

Archaeologists were also employed to

vehicle prioritization. The symbolic importance

survey the area of construction and provide

of an intercity bypass should not be forgotten,

management strategies for the protection of

the road serves as an introduction for visitors

any uncovered artifacts.

and residents to a city.

An intercity bypass has many of the


Chapter 2: Land Planning First

Land Planning First:

development of a new set of instruments. I have shown you the opening gambit” -Francine Houben, Mobility: A Room with a View

“The topic of automobility and the motorist is politically incorrect. Designers must see to it that everyone makes use of public transit. My generation is brought up on this attitude, which incorporates a noble motive – the environment, the landscape, the public space of cities and villages would suffer because of the car. However correct in itself this observation may be, it just leads to stalemates. The task for the future is to fully develop the environment, the economy and technology in the right balance. This means the… task is to come up with solutions that break new ground – to produce designs that answer the steadily growing demand for mobility. This demand should not be resisted, but rather channeled along the right lines. It is vital that work be done on public transport and motorways, as well as bike-, skate- and footpaths. Wonderful transfer junctions between train, metro, bus, car and bicycle must be designed. The landscape angle must be combined with an awareness that mobility routes are public spaces with a culture, code of conduct and aesthetics of their own. Research and design must lead to the

Historically, town planning and infrastructure planning have occurred independently of one another. Some departments of transportation in the United States understandably do not feel that community development is part of their mandate and town development plans, when such plans exist, frequently do not take into account transportation infrastructure developments. But town development and highway development are inextricably linked. Understanding the nature of this linkage and learning to address the needs of motorists and citizens (who are one and the same people) in balance is - as indicated in the passage by Francine Houben - critical for either to achieve its highest potential. It is commonly understood that the interstate highway system has shaped American communities in the 20th Century. It continues to do so into the 21st. Flexibility in Highway Design, the watershed publication in which the federal transportation agencies

re-examine the long standing assumptions of

bypasses initiate decentralization which in turn

their practice enshrined in the so called “Green

erodes the sense of community. Activity moves

Book,”38 expresses this in clear and fairly

to the bypass, and this “physical backdrop

neutral language:

is not a good stage on which a true sense of

“People driving in a car see the world at a much

community can be acted out.” The National

different scale than people walking on the street. This large

Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street

discrepancy in the design scale for car versus the design

Center also places the impetus for sprawl

scale for people has changed the overall planning of our

squarely on the shoulders of the interstate

communities. For example, it has become common in many

highway system.

suburban commercial areas that a shopper must get in the

The Federal Highway Administration

car and drive from one store to the next. Except in the case

(FHWA) and many state DOTs are skeptical

of strip malls, stores are often separated by large parking

of these assertions, perhaps somewhat

lots and usually have no safe walkways for pedestrians.” 39

defensively, and have undertaken independent

Community advocates, interested in

studies to evaluate the economic and land-use

promoting the economic viability and social

impacts of transportation infrastructure. Not

cohesion of downtowns, tend to believe that

surprisingly, these studies show a different

bypasses induce sprawl. According to the Small

picture. Wisconsin’s DOT found that “in most

Town Design Book,40

communities, highway bypasses have little

38 A Policy on the Geometric Design of Highways and Streets, published by AASHTO and commonly called “the green book” is the standard reference for highway designers. It provides guidance on such things as the width of lanes, medians and shoulders, and turning radii. The green book is intended as a set of geometric guidelines, not criteria or standards. It does not directly include consideration of aesthetic, environmental, social, or procedural issues. Flexibility in Highway Design was published by the U.S.D.O.T. (with collaboration from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Scenic America, the Bicycle Federation of America and other interested groups) largely as a compliment to the green book to promote flexible design as a means of addressing community interests. 39 P. 15 Flexibility in Highway Design, USDOT + FHWA 40 See the case study on Squaretown, Al., pgs. 11-14. Barker, Buono and Hildebrandt. Small Town Design Book, 1981, published by the Center for Small Town Research and Design, School of Architecture, Mississippi State University. The Center for Small Town Research and Design is the former name of the Carl Small Town Center.

adverse impact on overall economic activity.”42 The Urban Land Institute (ULI) conducted a workshop and provided a report for FHWA which concludes that “roadway infrastructure is just one element in the land use decisionmaking equation.”43 But the ULI report finds more specifically that “transportation has an important – although indirect – impact on land 42 Dec. 2000 summary of highway bypass studies, WisDOT 43 A ULI Advisory Services Program Report, 2004


use decisions. It can have a strong influence but

or the Iowa D.O.T. finds that “overall levels

does not always control the outcome.”

of retail sales in a community are not


These are important qualifications, because

significantly affected by the presence of a

the fact is that communities can do a lot to

bypass,”46 this tells us nothing about what

influence the impact of roadway projects in

those retail establishments are, or what ties

their communities, often much more than

to the community they have. If established

they may be aware. A bypass may tip the

local businesses close downtown and new

balance toward creating favorable conditions

businesses on the bypass (likely to be larger,

for sprawl, but local government and the

and often owned by national or multi-national

community have the power to control other

corporations) replace them, a qualitative

variables and change the balance towards

shift has occurred, one which is very likely to

the kind of growth they prefer. Yet, for the

impoverish the social fabric of the community.

transportation design process to effectively

Indeed, the Iowa study tells us this is exactly

become a catalyst for desirable growth,

what happened in their state: “a transfer

transportation agencies must understand the

among individual business owners appears

importance of even indirect impacts and should,

to be occurring in these communities where

as the Iowa DOT itself notes, “work with local

certain businesses along the old highway”

governments to foster sound planning and

[read: main street] “close and others open along

growth decisions, and to be proactive in their

the new bypass.”47 And the Wisconsin study

involvement in land use policy decisions.”45

admits that “smaller communities (less than

Indeed, proactive cooperative behavior is

2,000 population) have a greater potential to be

imperative on all sides.

adversely impacted by a bypass.”

What these studies don’t sufficiently address is the quality of development or economic

It is vitally important that transportation

agencies and community advocates not be set

activity. When Wisconsin finds “little adverse

up, or set themselves up, as adversaries. The

impact on overall economic activity,”

46 1991 Study for the Office of Advanced Planning Iowa D.O.T. reprinted in Dec. 2000 summary of highway bypass studies, WisDOT 47 Ibid 48 Dec. 2000 summary of highway bypass studies, WisDOT

44 Ibid 45 Ibid

fact is these groups have shared interests and

outcomes, that communities have and must

essentially compatible goals. Coming to a

employ the power to create the kind of growth

mutual understanding about the nature of those

they desire, and that transportation agencies

goals and the definition of the design problems

can be an ally in this effort.

to be resolved is challenging. It requires

Growing communities need transportation

communities to appreciate broader regional

infrastructure, but that infrastructure must be

and state needs, and to understand roadway

sensitive to their other needs as well. Thorough

progress and safety from an engineer’s

planning, including long-range visioning of

perspective.49 It requires transportation

communities’ desires and preferences for

planners and engineers to treat each project as

development, is required at the local level so

unique rather than applying a “one size fits all”

that when transportation infrastructure is

solution, and to re-evaluate their established

built other measures will already be in place

concepts of success, progress and safety -

to ensure that the infrastructure functions

sometimes summed up by critics as “wider,

beneficially for the community both presently

straighter, flatter, faster. ”50 However, all parties

and in the future. If a bypass efficiently

should be able to agree that transportation

manages to alleviate traffic, but for whatever

planning has a relationship to community and

reason also ends up drawing commercial

economic development, that this relationship is

activity away from a town with the result that

important but does not exclusively dictate

the town can not survive, there is little gained

49 There are many excellent resources for understanding the transportation planning process. Flexibility in Highway Design, though geared towards engineers, is very readable and informative. Take Back Your Streets, by the Conservation Law Foundation, provides in chapter 2 a good overview of engineering considerations. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website includes a list of several good resources including Smart Growth for Main Streets, A Citizen’s Guide to Transportation (by the FHWA), and A State Highway Project in Your Town? Your Role and Rights: A Primer for Citizens and Public Officials. 50 This, or very similar language, is used by the Conservation Law Foundation, Jim Wick, author of A State Highway Project in your town? Your Role and Rights – A Primer for Citizens and Public Officials,and Susan Van Wagner, executive director of the Route 50 corridor coalition, among others.

by pointing the finger of blame at the bypass or governing transportation agency. All parties have failed and all parties are the poorer for it. Towns and transportation infrastructure have a symbiotic relationship; for each to be healthy the other must also be healthy. Therefore, the definition of success for each must encompass the success of both.


Design processes exist to give communities

The Mississippi Department of

a voice in transportation planning. Federal laws

Transportation and many community design

in many cases require an active public process

processes exist, but the Transportation Action

that brings in many constituent groups. The

Model (TAMS) is one specifically attuned to

Intermodal Transportation Efficiency Act of

rural communities. Developed by the North

1991, commonly known as ISTEA (‘ice tea’),

Central Regional Center for Rural Development,

“places significant emphasis on broadening

“The Transportation Action Model seeks to

participation in transportation planning

marry technical information with a decision

to include key stakeholders who have not

making process that assists rural communities

traditionally been involved, including the

in transportation planning.”

business community, members of the public,

The TAMS process was inspired by the

community groups, and other governmental

requirements of ISTEA, which required more


public participation throughout the entire


transportation planning process and not just through public hearings. The TAMS process provides a voice for the public by including the public and officials on committees that control the planning process. In the process, technical decision makers (planners, civil engineers) work in tandem with a public input committee to look at an area’s transportation system today and then twenty years from now to determine the best next steps. Image 16: BP Town Hall meeting in Biloxi 51 U.S. Department of Transportation, “A Guide to Metropolitan Transportation Planning Under ISTEA - How the Pieces Fit Together”, National Transportation Library, Internet: http://ntl.bts.gov/ DOCS/424MTP.html, August 4, 2009.

52 North Central Regional Center for Rural Development. Transportation Action: A Local Input Model to Engage Community Transportation Planning. (Iowa State University Printing Services: Ames) p. Vii.

Land planning does not happen when the bypass is announced; land planning determines whether a community wants a bypass and how that bypass should work with the community. Communities must see planning as the way they project the aspirations and goals of their town and not as a reactive process to outside forces. In determining the use of land first, communities determine their future and attract business and commerce that shares that vision.


Chapter 3: Avoiding Highway Bypasses

Avoiding Highway Bypasses:

cargo-carrying trucks, through-traffic, and local traffic. Potentially, the major obstacle to this type

Sometimes the best strategy is to not

of project is the existing pattern of use in the

implement a bypass. While a bypass may

town. How existing uses are distributed may

solve the problem of congestion, a bypass

determine how viable this option is for the

can also introduce a whole new set of

community or small urban area. The intratown

problems for a community. In some cases,

bypass relies on a communities’ ability to

the traffic congestion problems can be solved

direct traffic to various geographic areas of

without creating a whole new dynamic for

the town, and if a lack of zoning has allowed

transportation in the city.

a hodgepodge of uses, this type of traffic

For example, the “intratown bypass”

redirection may be unrealistic.

strategy is one way to accommodate traffic without building a highway bypass. As we saw in the previous chapters, this particular strategy relies on the notion of matching circulation paths to function, in effect breaking up traffic to be more localized geographically. For example, implementing an “intratown bypass” strategy could mean providing separate routes through a community for

Case Studies: The following are a few examples of communities that adopted strategies to deal with vehicular traffic problems without implementing a bypass.

Community Participation:

Route 50 Corridor Traffic Calming Project… Loudon and Fauquier Counties, VA

“Most of the time the people who live in a place

in opposition to this proposed project, feeling that a bypass would be the wrong fit for their communities and that it would destroy the historic and scenic character of their towns and outlying lands.

aren’t in control of land use and development and that’s a problem everywhere… Local people can be more in control than they think they can be.”

-Susan Van Wagner

The story of Virginia’s Route 50 corridor proves that residents can take the development of roads in their area into their own hands. For decades, a transportation improvement proposal had been on the books for a 24-

Image 17: Virginia’s Route 50 corridor

mile stretch of rural highway that serves as

The group held a workshop that defined the

a through-route as well as main street for

problems residents had with the existing road.

several towns and small villages in Loudon and

These turned out to be: speeding, aggressive

Fauquier Counties. The Virginia Department

driving, poor and unsafe conditions for

of Transportation’s (VDOT) intention was

pedestrians/cyclists, harm to historic structures,

to bypass three of these towns (Upperville,

and noise. Not one resident mentioned

Middleburg, and Aldie) and widen the roadway,

congestion. The community united in

which passes through scenic countryside in a

opposition to a four lane road in their area or a

region rich with revolutionary and civil war

bypass with any development on it whatsoever.

history, from two lanes to four.

However, if a bypass were to be built it would

be outside the town limits and thus also outside

In the mid-1990s a group of local citizens

organized the “Route 50 Corridor Coalition”

its jurisdiction. This absence of control – paired


with a feeling that their concerns were not

The outside engineers reexamined

impacting the planning process – further

VDOT’s conceptions about the insufficiencies

catalyzed their opposition.

of the roadway, about what Loudon and Fauquier counties really needed in roadway improvements. They found that the roads were capable of handling the current traffic flows and that projections of growth in traffic flows were greatly exaggerated. VDOT guidelines suggest that any roadway handling more than 8,000 vehicle trips per day should be a 4-lane highway. But by measuring traffic in duration of time instead of number of trips, the coalition’s consultants found the road

Image 18: Historical Civil War site in Northern Virginia

The coalition, working together with the

was congested only about 2% of the time. In essence, they redefined the problem as one

Middleburg town council, raised funds and

of calming traffic and reducing its negative

hired outside traffic engineering consultants.

impacts in their communities rather than

One of the first things the town and their

building more roads.

engineering consultants did was discuss was

It is worthy of note that slowing traffic

how residents imagined their towns in 50 or

does not by definition lead to more congestion.

100 years. People wanted to preserve the rural,

Faster traffic requires more space between each

small-town atmosphere, community cohesion,

vehicle, so slowing traffic can actually increase

and dirt roads. They liked being able to see the

traffic flows. Maximum flows occur between 40

stars at night. Using this information the group

and 50 mph. Similarly, the use of roundabouts

put together a vision statement for the area.

(which are employed in the revised route 50

They agreed to base any development plans on

corridor project) very successfully keeps traffic


moving, but at a slower pace. As traffic

engineer Rick Hall has commented “you can’t

the relationship between VDOT and the

run a roundabout”.

community has been growing closer, although

The coalition compiled a report detailing their ideas and proposing a traffic calming

it still appears to be somewhat strained. This effort is a work in progress. As

project as an alternate to the bypass plan

stated on the Loudon County website: “On

in the VDOT pipeline. Once the report was

October 17, 2006, the Loudoun County Board

approved unanimously by the Middleburg

of Supervisors approved changes to land

Town Council and the Loudoun and Fauquier

use and design policies for the Route 50

Boards of Supervisors, the coalition took it

corridor through amendments to the county’s

to Washington, D.C. The coalition got the

Comprehensive Plan… On February 20, 2007,

attention of their senator, John Warner, who

the Board of Supervisors approved the Route

felt it could serve as a pilot project, and a

50 Corridor Design Guidelines. The Board

national model. With the Senator’s backing, the

also directed staff to prepare a scope of work

alternative project was awarded $13 million in

for the formation of an advisory group to

federal demonstration funds in 1998.

address architectural issues along the Route 50

At this point VDOT had little choice but to accept the new plan. By 1999 VDOT officially

corridor.”53 As is probably evident by now, this is

backed the traffic calming plan and provided

not a case study about purely successful

the 20% matching funds required to secure the

cooperation between a transportation agency

federal government’s $13 million. The Virginia

and a community. It is more a story of the

Secretary of Transportation appointed a

struggle to achieve that cooperation – one in

project task force which included citizens, local

which the community succeeds in achieving its

officials, and transportation agency officials.

goals and bringing the DOT around, through

A diverse design team was also selected that

incredible efforts and devotion to their cause, to

brought expertise in engineering, design,

a radically different solution than the norm.

landscape and architectural history to bear on the project development. Since then, the

53 Loundes County Virginia, “Route 50/Arcola Area Comprehensive Plan Amendment”, Internet: http://www.loudoun.gov/Default. aspx?tabid=1303, August 6, 2009.


Hopefully the hard won success of such progressive projects as the Route 50 corridor traffic calming project will make it easier for similar efforts in the future.

Tourism, destroying the agricultural heritage of the area.54 The opposition to the bypass grew in the next decade as planning continued and came to the attention of the Michigan Land Use Institute

Smart Roads:

Petoskey, MI In 1987, Congress authorized $28 million

for the planning and construction of a bypass around the town of Petoskey on the northern shore of Lake Michigan. The plan of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was to construct a four lane highway with a median connecting U.S. 31 through the rural countryside to the south of Petoskey. The Petoskey Chamber of Commerce was a strong supporter of the project, and thought it was necessary to control local traffic congestion and congestion due to tourism. At the same time, a grassroots effort called Sensible Alternatives for a Valued Environment was started by local residents. These residents argued that the bypass would weaken the tourist-based economy of the downtown area. The other fear of the group was that the bypass would open up farmland to development and

and the Environmental Law and Policy Center of the Midwest. These groups, funded by the Joyce Foundation, commissioned a study of the proposed bypass and possible alternatives. The study that came out in 2000 entitled “Smart Roads Petoskey” found that the bypass planned failed to solve the traffic problem by the standards of MDOT’s own study. The study also found that the bypass would be too big, would weaken the downtown area, create sprawl in rural areas, destroy farmland and threaten wetlands and wildlife habitat. In addition, the cost of the bypass project had increased to $90 million. The Smart Roads study suggested an alternative to the bypass. The alternative proposed would modernize U.S. 31, develop an express route by linking local roads and create a truck route that would avoid the downtown area. The proposal would also create a summer shuttle bus service linking bicycle and 54 Loundes County Virginia, “Route 50/Arcola Area Comprehensive Plan Amendment”, Internet: http://www.loudoun.gov/Default. aspx?tabid=1303, August 6, 2009.

pedestrian paths that would serve tourists in

The Michigan Department of Transportation

the summer.

decided to end its plan for the bypass and to

Just as important as the new routing, the

put the planning process in the hands of local

plan identified several goals for land use that

citizens and governments. The Department of

would work hand in hand with the routing.

Transportation would act as the conduit for the

The land use plan called for the adaptation

federal funds and as a technical advisor to the

of regional planning to create an urban

project. The local governments hired a private

growth boundary, regional zoning and the

planning consultant and instituted a community

sharing of tax revenue. The plan also called

based process to plan the alternative based

for strengthened zoning to preserve open

on the Smart Roads study.58 The study, which

space, and create conservation easements in

was delayed because of funding issues, was

the region. The plan encouraged better site

completed in November of 2007. MDOT and

planning by developers to preserve natural

the community continue to work on concepts

features and wetlands. Finally, the plan allowed

for the alternative while seeking funding to

for the local government to purchase land

implement the project.

rights to undeveloped lands to preserve them.


When the Michigan Department of

These two case studies show how a bypass is not necessarily the right answer for every

Transportation held a hearing on their bypass

situation. The case studies also show that

proposal on December 5, 2001, more than

sometimes citizens need to challenge the

500 residents showed up. Many voiced their

assumptions of experts and force the experts

disapproval of the bypass and urged the

to look at solutions they are not used to

Department of Transportation to consider

considering. By cooperating, both the state

the Smart Roads alternative.56 Taxpayers for

DOT’s and the community got solutions that

Common Sense and Friends of the Earth named

made sense for the situation and would be

the Petroskey Bypass one of the nation’s 50

supported into the future by citizens.

worst road projects in 1999.57 55 Kelly Thayer, “Smart Roads: Petoskey: The Smart Choice”, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, June 1, 2000. 56 Kelly Thayer, “Smart Roads: Petoskey: The Smart Choice”, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, June 1, 2000.

57 Kelly Thayer, “$90 Million Highway Ditched in Petoskey”, Great Lakes Bulletin News Service, September 26, 2002. 58 Ryan Bentley, “Local officials still investigating bypass alternatives”, Petoskey News Review, June 9, 2006.


Chapter 4: Existing Highway Bypass: Now What?

Existing Highway Bypass: What Now?: For many towns, the bypass has already happened. What can a town do to control development and therefore congestion on the existing bypass? What can a town do to promote commerce and development in the downtown area? Communities need to think about a range of tools to support three goals: regulating bypass development, supporting the downtown and maintaining a holistic, coherent image of the town from the bypass.

Regulation: Regulating bypass development is an important strategy because, through regulation, the town can control the relationship the bypass development has to the existing town. While existing retail or commercial cannot be moved, regulation can help to consolidate and organize what is there, and mitigate the effects of sprawl. Regulation will also control any new growth and help to steer growth to other areas of town. Regulations that can help keep local traffic in town are not that different from sustainable or “smart growth” strategies pursued in urban areas. Four types of regulatory programs exist

for limiting sprawl: adequate public facility requirements, growth phasing programs, urban growth boundaries and rate of growth programs.59 These all provide tools to control growth and steer it toward areas that have the resources (pedestrian environments, mixed use, existing infrastructure) to be sustainable urban environments. Adequate public facilities are regulations that can be found and used for typical subdivision developments. These regulations ensure that basic services will not be overwhelmed by a new development. Usually, the services that require adequate capacity are water, sewer, and size of street networks. However, these regulations can be expanded to include services that are broader but with real economic consequences. These regulations could include public services such as school, police, fire and public transit. One of the dangers of an adequate public facilities ordinance is that the town’s capacity is exceeded and a moratorium on new development occurs.60 Towns need to carefully plan the growth of their services and plan areas 59 Eric Damian Kelly. Managing Community Growth: Policies, Techniques, and Impacts (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993), 43, http://www. questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=28630279. 60 Eric Damian Kelly. Managing Community Growth: Policies, Techniques, and Impacts (Westport, CT: Praeger, 1993), 46, http://www. questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=28630282.

for new development or redevelopment to

For example, a large scale project that

avoid having to place a moratorium.

is desired by the community may not be

Growth phasing programs are a way to

implemented immediately because the quota

work around the possibility of a moratorium

for development was exceeded by the time

with adequate public facility regulation. In

the project was announced. A competition

growth phasing, a municipality plans for a

for limited development may also occur; this

particular amount of development within a

competition is good in that developers may

time frame. The municipality then releases a

offer more incentives and provide better design

limited number of building permits or other

and amenities. The same competition might

permissions per year based on the growth

also convince some developers not to pursue building in that municipality. Urban growth boundaries are a line around an urban area where not just public services but development itself may not extend. As such, urban growth boundaries require a great deal of comprehensive planning, where the community must chart its course for at least the next twenty years. Urban growth boundaries allow development to happen, but with the knowledge that with a limited supply of land, denser, more sustainable development and

Image 19: Growth of the city of Sioux Falls

redevelopment is the rule, not the exception.

targets it sets. Growth phasing creates a

Municipalities do not strain their services trying

predictable situation for both developers and

to cover spread out, low density development

municipalities; everyone knows in advance

and can offer effective urban centers and public

that a certain amount of development will be

transportation. Urban growth boundaries have

allowed. The disadvantage of growth phasing

been implemented in many communities. In

is the inability to react to opportunities for

Oregon and Washington



State, communities are required by state law to

be examined to see whether regulations are

define urban growth boundaries.61 In Lancaster,

necessary and can help a municipality achieve

Pennsylvania, an area where 85% of the land

its goals of directing and controlling bypass

area is forest and agriculture, forty-five out of

development growth. Regulation of land along

sixty municipalities have adopted urban growth

the bypass affects the rest of the town and vice

boundaries. These boundaries were established

versa, so a comprehensive planning process

to preserve Lancaster County’s rural landscape

for the entire municipality or even region is

and Amish heritage in the face of massive

necessary to find a goal that all can agree on.

development along the U.S. 30 corridor.

Supporting the Downtown:

Regulation is not the only tool available

to municipalities to control and guide growth along existing bypasses. Promotion of development in the downtown area is an important tool as well. If the downtown area can have a different type of retail and commercial development and a different feel to residents and visitors than the commercial strip along the bypass, then the downtown is not a rival to the bypass but a compliment to it. The Image 20: Portland city limits

The last regulatory tool is rate of

growth. This is similar to growth phasing but

two can work together to provide residents and visitors with different products and services but just as importantly, experiences of the town.

attempts to limit spurts in development that can

How can promotion and support of the

overwhelm public services such as sewer, water

downtown area be achieved? What are the

and school systems. All of these tools need to

characteristics of a successful downtown?

61 Greenbelt Alliance, “Urban Growth Boundaries�, San Francisco, CA. pamphlet.

Although detailing steps to downtown

a policy of replacing downtown post offices

revitalization and planning is beyond the scope

with larger facilities in commercial strip or

of this project, there are some key points to

outlying areas. The Post Office gives some

be made. A downtown which complements

legitimate reasons for relocation such as their

the commercial development along a highway

current space being too small for new sorting

must be organized around the pedestrian as

machines, parking and tractor trailer access

a contrast and an alternative to auto-centered

being inadequate, and the need for more space

bypass development. To facilitate a pedestrian-

for post office boxes and other services. While

friendly environment, commercial development

these are all reasons for change, they are not

should be sufficiently dense, creating strength

necessarily reasons to move out of the

in numbers and achieving a critical mass to attract users. In creating this density, zoning regulation may be the best tool. Other non-regulatory tools are important in downtown development as well. One of the most viable ways to retain interest and density in the historic downtown is through civic investment. When a city makes a commitment to a downtown, especially in the context of highway or bypass construction, the private

Image 21: Hattiesburg, MS Post Office

sector is reassured that the city is not turning

downtown area. Many times the parking counts

their back on its history and the downtown, and

the Postal Service requires are too high and do

neither should they.62

not take into account walking patrons. Likewise,

Investments can include keeping city

some of the other functional requirements

departments in the downtown area, such as the

can be adopted by good architectural design

city hall, city utility offices and particularly post

and if space is really lacking, retail and sorting

offices. The United States Post Office has

operations can be split up to keep at least the

62 Domestic Scan Tour II Report. Office of Planning Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation. May 2004

retail component of the post office downtown. The post office is required to go through a


number of steps and public hearings before

and building owners in the downtown are

relocating a post office; citizens need to attend

eligible for state tax credits to repair facades64

those meeting, listen to the legitimate functional

and make other exterior improvements in the

concerns of the post office, but then work

downtown. In Mississippi, the Department of

with the post office to offer alternatives and

Archives and History has a 25% state tax credit

solutions to keep post offices downtown. This

for rehabilitating historic buildings that can

same procedure needs to take place when any

be used on top of a federal tax credit of 20%.65

public entity proposes moving away from the

Municipalities might add to these available

downtown area.

credits or copy Vermont’s law to further drive


downtown rehabilitation. Programs, such as The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street, work with small communities to revitalize traditional downtowns. The Main Street Approach advocates a return to community self-reliance, local empowerment, and the rebuilding of traditional commercial districts based on their unique assets: distinctive Image 22: From Occupy Our Post Office in Oregon

architecture, a pedestrian-friendly environment,

Investments in the downtown might also

personal service, local ownership, and a

include tax credits for businesses to locate in

sense of community. It is a comprehensive

the downtown or to improve their buildings.

strategy that is tailored to meet local needs

In Vermont, downtown areas can apply to

and opportunities. It encompasses work

be designated downtown districts. If a town

in four distinct areas: design and physical

establishes a downtown plan, a community

improvements, economic restructuring,

reinvestment agreement, design review and

64 Vermont Division for Historic Preservation, “Downtown and Village Center State Tax Credits”, Internet: http://www.historicvermont. org/financial/state.html August 11, 2009. 65 Mississippi Department of Archives and History, “25% State Rehabilitation Tax Credit”, Internet: http://mdah.state.ms.us/ hpres/25percent_taxcredit.php August 11, 2009.

some other basic steps, then the community 63 The Preservation Trust of Vermont, “A Local Official’s Guide to Developing Better Community Post Offices”, Internet: http://www. ptvermont.org/publications/pobook/poparttwo.HTM August 11, 2009.

promotion and marketing, as well as organization and committee management. These areas are combined to address all of the commercial district’s needs. Mississippi has a very active and effective chapter of the Main Street program and any community can join Main Street at different levels of participation and services.

Mississippi Main Street Renders:

Images 25 & 26: Starkville, MS

Investment can also mean a municipality invests directly into its downtown infrastructure. Sidewalks, street lighting, good intersections for pedestrians, directional signage, off-street parking facilities; these improvements can all help to attract businesses to a downtown area. An example of a successful project to improve a downtown area and bring in new businesses is the Howard Street Images 23 & 24: Philadelphia, MS

revitalization in Greenwood, MS.


In a gesture of community service, the

Improving pedestrian access by adding

Viking Range Corporation, which is based

more street trees, crosswalks, and lampposts;

in Greenwood, MS, funded a team from the

Carl Small Town Center in the College of

to any signage applied by the public or by each

Architecture, Art, + Design at Mississippi State


University to conduct a study of the five blocks of Howard Street, from the Yazoo River on the north to Johnson Street on the south, the

Applying simplification and orderliness

Applying wall mural art; and,

Creating a significant civic space.

primary retail area in downtown Greenwood. The CSTC came up with a number of recommendations, specifically: •

The provision of sufficient parking

through the relocation of employee and owner/ operator parking off the main shopping street and through better communication of the availability of optional parking to the public; •

The development of distinctive brick-

paved crosswalks at the major intersections and across the alleys and the separation of parking lots from the adjoining sidewalks with the proposed arbors and benches; •

The replacement of the existing street

lights with more historically correct lampposts; •

The introduction of more street trees to

provide shade in the summer and to enhance the pedestrian environment;

Image 27: Downtown Greenwood, MS

To begin actually realizing the revitalization of Howard Street, the Small Town Center team strongly suggested first addressing the parking issue with the business and storeowners, requesting that their employees not park on Howard Street, the main shopping street. Because of the development of the Alluvian Hotel, a new luxury hotel financed by the Viking Range Corp., Fred Carl (President and CEO of

the Viking Range Corporation) agreed to install

receive an MDOT Transportation Enhancement

the historic lampposts, street trees, and benches

grant, which would fund improvements along

adjacent to the Hotel’s property, and widen

Howard Street and Johnson Street. The grant

sidewalks providing a new canopy and lighting

would fund the CSTC’s recommendations for

along the northern facade of the Hotel. The

historic lampposts, brick sidewalks, and kiosks

CSTC strongly suggested to the city that the

describing the area’s history along the two

brick-paved crosswalk in front of the hotel be

streets. The project is set to break ground in

constructed to coincide with the opening. In


the meantime, the property owners on Howard

Additionally, fourteen buildings along

Street renovated facades from their structures

Howard Street have completed facade additions

with funds through a facade improvement grant

or reconstructions since the study was

program or a low interest loan program. The

completed. Vacant lots have been reconfigured

work required for the crosswalk improvement,

by the city for parking, alleviating the need in

alley improvements and the installation of the

most areas for on-street parking, and the city

historic lampposts, street trees, grates, arbors

has replaced advertising benches downtown

and benches fell to the City of Greenwood

with more aesthetically appropriate wrought

and to civic organizations such as Main Street

iron benches. Also, planning has begun for

Greenwood, the Chamber of Commerce,

the creation of a Robert Johnson/blues themed

the Greenwood-Leflore-Carroll Economic

park on Howard Street.

Development Foundation and to the individual property owners. The Howard Street Revitalization study

This effort was a true partnership between an important corporation in Greenwood, Viking Range Corp., many small businesses along

was completed in August 2002. Since that

Howard Street, and the City of Greenwood.

time, the city has independently found funds to

Without the commitment of all three

complete the recommendations made through

stakeholders, the revitalization would have

the study. In 2007, the Mainstreet Greenwood

never happened.

organization applied on behalf of the city to


Finally, one of the most important assets to a vibrant downtown area that can compete with the development along a highway

A Holistic and Coherent Image from the Bypass: A highway or bypass does not exist within

bypass is housing in the downtown area. Retail in the downtown area cannot survive

one city, county or even state, but rather

without residents that can easily walk to it.

serves as part of a physical connection that

In order to promote downtown housing, the

links these separate entities together. Many

downtown area needs to be safe, clean, easy

of the most successful highway development

to get to by many modes of transportation,

projects are a result of the city planning staff

have clear incentives for downtown housing

considering the impact of a highway bypass

and, most importantly, the city must have a

beyond their own municipal boundaries. Often,

clear commitment to downtown housing.

partnering with a regional authority can allow

Residents in the downtown not only give the

the municipality to leverage additional federal

downtown area life and activity which then

funding for projects. In Mississippi, many small

attracts more people to the downtown area,

towns are often separated by larger tracks of

residents in the downtown are the eyes on the

rural and agricultural land between them. The

street which increase the safety of the area and

highways and roadways that connect them

the advocates for downtown improvements. As

are critical links, links that are increasing in

the demographics change in the United States

importance as more and more Mississippians

and increasingly there are more people waiting

are commuting between home and office and

longer to marry and raise families and also

to farther retail destinations. Development

an increasing number of seniors looking for

which serves a regional population often occurs

the convenience of walking to basic services,

along these roadways, as seen along portions of

the trend toward more downtown living will

Highway 82 between Columbus and Starkville,


Mississippi. Because multiple jurisdictions will

66 Jennifer Moulton, “Ten Steps to Downtown Housing” Brooking Institution Paper, Internet, 2/4/2010 67 Eugenie Birch, “Who Lives Downtown”, Brookings Institution, Internet, 2/4/2010

control the land uses and development along


68 Domestic Scan Tour II Report. Office of Planning Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation. May 2004

As any successful business owner knows,

the highway corridor, it is imperative that the multiple communities and agencies

exposure to both pedestrian and vehicular

communicate to develop a clear plan for the

traffic is critical. “Big picture thinking can

future of that roadway.

improve the understanding that streets are not

For example, if one community decides that

just modes to move vehicles. They can also be

it would like to intensely develop commercial

image makers. The transportation system is

and industrial uses along the highway corridor,

one component within the larger urban system.

while another community decides that it

Retrofitting a roadway corridor cannot only

would like to leave its highway undeveloped

enhance mobility and calm traffic; it can also

to allow for faster traffic, the character of

encourage economic development and create a

the highway will change from jurisdiction to

healthier community image.�69

jurisdiction. Coordination between counties

and municipalities will allow the entire region

the same national chains of restaurants and

to work as one to attract business, industry,

stores at the exits to their communities. An

retail and new residents to the right areas for

alternate that would help the downtown area

the benefit of the entire region.

where these chains usually do not locate would

While improving the downtown so that

Most communities and cities advertise

be to add highway signage that would also

there is retail, entertainment and housing

advertise local eateries.

that can complement the bypass is a critical

challenge, it is just as important that people know that the great downtown is there. A challenge becomes to advertise the historic city center from the bypass. The bypass interchanges must become a marketing and advertising opportunity for the downtown area and not just the services along the bypass. 69 Domestic Scan Tour II Report. Office of Planning Federal Highway Administration, US Department of Transportation. May 2004


Compare the two images below. The

the roadway presents an opportunity for

photograph to the left illustrates typical

experience or awareness of a town. That

signage seen along a highway, advertising

experience or awareness should be positive. No

chain restaurants that can be found at virtually

one wants their town to be remembered as the

any highway exit in the country. The image

place with the ugly strip mall, or to be forgotten

to the right, however, illustrates the potential

as indiscernible from any other town on the

of these signs, advertising businesses that are

road. Towns should be remembered for their

unique to the given community, in this example:

unique qualities.

Starkville, MS.

Gateways, markers along the road at points of entry to towns, can provide memorable impressions of a place and signal arrival or departure. A gateway needn’t be a literal gate or any specific architectural feature. The transition to and from a place – the shift from there to here – exists regardless of whether it is a planned event. A change in the density

By trying to put the amenities downtown on

of trees, number of buildings, or speed

an equal footing in terms of marketing from the

limits can all signify a transition, as can any

road, the problems of the autonomous bypass

number of other un-designed elements. But

can be mitigated. The emptying of retail from

the development of a new roadway provides

the downtown and its migration to the bypass

the opportunity to design a gateway that

area can be stopped so that all businesses do

announces arrival or departure in a manner and

not need to leave the downtown area to survive.

at a scale that fits its context. Such a gateway

A roadway, even a bypass which is primarily

can also provide visibility for the town so

about moving traffic around a place, contains

that motorists who are going by, rather than

two vital components of any town: entry and

arriving or departing, also have a positive

exit. Even for the motorist who passes by,

impression of the place.

A gateway might consist of a bridge

public art works. On and off ramps and clover-

that spans the roadway, which could also

leafs provide large unused areas of open space

serve as a means for pedestrians to cross the

that can become points of visual interest and

road, but this is only one literal possibility.

can welcome the motorist to a community. If

Creative interpretations could create gateways

works by local artists are incorporated, the

that address specific aspects of roads’

bypass interchange can actually become a

environmental context. For example, one

gallery space that speaks of each community’s

environmental issue surrounding highways

uniqueness. Such an intervention provides an

is the barrier through naturally contiguous

excellent entry to a place and also serves as a

habitats that they create for animals and plants.

kind of advertisement for the community.

There are hazards to animals created by high

One such gateway is located in Columbus,

speed roads, but the threat to plant diversity

Indiana. The Front Door Project is a twin

is also real. As conditions change over long

arch bridge spanning Interstate 65, the main

periods of time, plant communities migrate

interstate vehicular entrance into Columbus.

to places with more favorable conditions.

The bridge, without any text, creates the

When we build impenetrable lines that run for

expectation that something incredible is

miles and miles, just as when we create broad urbanized areas without green-space, we risk cutting these migrations off, blocking ecological exchange. So one idea of a gateway as bridge might be a place where natural habitat, rather than pedestrians specifically, is given passage across.70 A gateway can also be created through 70 This may be a fairly utopian idea, as you can hardly tell a deer where to cross the road, but it demonstrates a kind of radical thinking about environmental integration that can foster both sustainability and beauty in our roadways.

Image 28: Interstate 65 interchange with Indiana 46


happening at that exit. That impression is furthered by the well landscaped road, State Road 46, leading to a second spectacular bridge named the Second Avenue Bridge straight to the Bartholomew County Courthouse at the center of town. This sequence of structures and landscape create a coherent, compelling and easily followed entrance into the town of Columbus. Likewise, landscaping that focuses on the use of local flora provides an aesthetic experience that is both place specific and easy to maintain. Native planting and zeroscaping, the use of slow growing, water-efficient plants in designed landscapes, can be maintained with a fraction of the water, time, or chemicals used on traditional landscapes or grass turf. Providing attractive landscapes at points of entry to a town that are physically related to

Image 29: Second Street Bridge into Columbus, IN

the natural landscapes between towns surely

its place. These kinds of natural gateways,

but subtly announces a transition from there to

very appropriate to the scale of small towns

here, letting us know that we have arrived in a

and rural communities, also provide regional

community with a sense of belonging to

continuity when they are employed regularly in

71 Zeroscaping is sometimes also called “Xeriscaping.” (from the greek “Xeros” for dry and “scape” for scene or vista) Both terms refer to the use of plants that require minimal maintenance and supplemental water. Zeroscaping traditionally refers to drought tolerant planting, but the specific plants that should be used differ according to region. In humid Mississippi, the traditional drought resistant plants might not thrive, but there are an abundance of wildflowers, shrubs and trees native to this region that will thrive with minimal maintenance.

one region.

An example of a natural gateway occurs

at the intersection of Highway 61 and 82 in Leland, Mississippi. At the cloverleaf

intersection of the two highways, a stand of

and are easily accessible. However, it is

pine trees fills the area between the exit ramps

important to balance the need for visibility with

and the two crossing highways. The landscape

the aesthetic imperative for a roadway not to be

surrounding this intersection is flat and treeless,

littered with billboard advertisements.

so the sudden view of this intersection and the

By implementing these strategies, towns

stand of trees makes a strong impression on the

with an existing bypass can create a more

visitor. The simple planting of a stand of trees

balanced and sustainable pattern of growth.

in the most visible place on the road creates the

The development along a highway bypass

sense of arrival into Leland.

needs to become not the substitute for the

As with any roadway feature, the exact

existing retail, housing and commercial areas in

nature of a community’s gateway - landscaped,

the town, but a supplement. The scattering of

architectural or artistic, will be responsive to

freestanding box retail, office and disconnected

the specific nature of that place. A gateway

housing that is the standard for suburban

should represent the community to which it

development today cannot take the place of

leads. Any intervention must sensitively address

tightly knit neighborhoods where work and

the unique culture and history of its place

retail is a short walk away. While the economics

while promoting and preserving its natural

and convenience of big box and chain store

environmental and scenic resources.

retail is not changing any time soon, the desire

In addition to promoting a positive

for neighborhood stores with more personal

experience of place, gateways provide towns

service and ties to the community is not going

with vital visibility to passers-by. It is critical

away either. Towns with an existing bypass

for small towns to have some presence on the

need to find the right balance between these

road. This is particularly true in the case of new

two realities to best improve the lives of their

bypasses where, formerly, motorists passed

citizens and the fabric of their town.

directly through a town. For a bypass not to adversely impact local business in town, people must remain aware that those businesses exist


Chapter 5: Planning a New Highway Bypass: Principals


Planning a New Highway Bypass: “We can encourage creativity, while achieving safety and efficiency, through the early identification of critical project issues, and through consideration of community concerns before major decisions severely limit design options.” -Flexibility in Highway Design

“early and continuous public involvement” is key to a successful project. Public involvement allows for the project to develop with the greatest possible flexibility, and provides the sense of investment in the project needed to maintain community support throughout the design process. While there is already a level of community involvement in highway planning and design, the existing structures for integrating the community into the process, particularly at the critical early stages of

“Whatever the various laws may say and whatever the written procedure, a town will only be able to influence the course of a highway project if it is clear and assertive about its wishes. It does not matter who makes this effort … but somebody has to.” 72 - A State Highway Project in Your Town? When planning a new bypass, community participation in the planning and design process is, without a doubt, critical to success. This is broadly agreed upon by AASHTO, the FHWA, and community advocates. Chapter one of Flexibility in Highway Design says that 72 Wick, Jim. A State Highway Project in Your Town? Your Role and Rights, A Primer for Citizens and Public Officials. Preservation Trust of Vermont 1995, p. 3.

planning and project development, including the initial definition of what development is needed, are inadequate and often lead to conflicts between state agencies and local representatives or advocates during the design phase. As a result of difficulty in establishing productive communication with the public, the FHWA has published reports designed to help transportation officials overcome what they term the “major challenge” of involving the public in planning and project development. The challenge, from the administration’s perspective, is that people are disinterested and skeptical about their ability to influence outcomes. This skepticism is widely evident in

communities and speaks to a failure of

the existing structures for inclusion that is

state, and MPOs are required only for cities

largely cultural. To overcome this challenge,

over 50,000 people,73 this leaves a potentially

transportation engineers and community

devastating gap in representation for many

advocates must engage each other early in the

rural communities. Mississippi has only

process, recognize one another’s views about

four MPOs, those representing the Jackson,

the definitions of problems and the terms of

Hattiesburg, Biloxi-Gulfport/Pascagoula areas

success, and learn to communicate in mutually

and the multi-state Memphis, Tennessee,

accessible language.

Arkansas, Mississippi area. Given the absence

Currently, initial planning decisions about

Because Mississippi is such a rural

of effective structures for representation of

the need for highway developments are made

rural communities, it is incumbent upon local

at the state and regional levels. These decisions

leaders to proactively undertake planning

may also come from the local level but, for

and goal-setting for local development,

roads under the responsibility of MDOT, this is

which includes transportation infrastructure

not usually the case. States develop long range

considerations, and to communicate these ideas

State Transportation Improvement Plans (STIP)

to officials at the regional level.

and Metropolitan Planning Organizations

Such planning should be informed by

(MPO) develop regional Transportation

direct community participation, which may

Improvement Plans (TIP). These TIPs and STIPs

be solicited in the form of town meetings,

define a state or region’s transportation needs

community events, surveys, citizen focus

over a 20-25 year horizon and also its priorities

groups and advisory committees, and personal

over a shorter horizon. They are required to be

contact. Local design charrettes are an excellent

updated every two years so, even though they

tool for involving communities in the

are long range plans, continuous development is built in. No proposed transportation improvement can receive federal funding unless it is included in a TIP or STIP.

73 According to the Mississippi chapter of the American Planning Association and the FHWA publication A Citizen’s Guide to Transportation Decision making, the figure is cities of 50,000 people plus their surrounding developed areas. According to Flexibility in Highway design the figure is 200,000 inclusive of the entire urbanized area. We are using the more local figure.


design process, but the community should be

development plans. Beyond notifying

engaged in the planning process well before

communities of impending plans MDOT must

the design phase is reached. Communities

actively reach out to solicit community input

should develop roadmaps that address how

in the development of those plans. Thoughtful

citizens envision their community in the future.

assessment of community impacts requires

Specific considerations to be addressed in

direct interaction with a broad range of people,

these plans should include: land use, population

and requires strategies for reaching audiences

growth, anticipated economic changes, multi-

that have been historically underserved by

modal transportation needs, quality of life,

the transportation system or that may have

development and preservation goals, as well as

difficulty understanding transportation

identification of unique community assets.

planning and design in all its complexity.

The onus is upon local leaders to

Helping people to visualize the problems

communicate their community’s aims to

and proposed solutions is vital to achieving

state and regional authorities, and to keep

successful community interactions.

themselves aware of state and regional plans.

Regular community outreach and

This indicates the importance of having

integration from the earliest stages allows for

relationships and open lines of communication

responsive decision making, which in turns

with transportation authorities. These can

creates the conditions needed for a project

be accomplished by inviting transportation

to succeed. It is critical that this engagement

officials to attend community events and

include a broad range of people, not only public

meetings of transportation boards, getting on

officials. Engaging communities productively

MDOT and MPO mailing lists, and developing

does present challenges for the transportation

personal contacts.

planner, but it is an absolute necessity to

Likewise, transportation agencies have the responsibility to communicate openly and from

prevent conflict or disenfranchisement down the road.

the earliest possible stages with communities

Such engagement is USDOT policy.

whose quality of life may be affected by their

However, policy and fact do not always

correspond. Like any institution, transportation

Scenario planning has its roots in military

agencies have a deeply ingrained culture that

strategy. In scenario planning, the planning

is often resistant to change. The traditional

group collects data key to the problem at hand

top-down approach to decision making leaves

and then develops an entire series of “what

the community at-large out of the picture until

if” scenarios for the future. These scenarios

far too late in the process, and invites conflict

are built by identifying the forces driving a

at a time when the design is already well

particular trend or fact. These scenarios need

established and the flexibility inherent to earlier

to not only cover the most likely options,

stages has vanished. When communities have

but question the very assumptions that are

a voice from early on they are much more likely

made.75 For example, in planning a highway

to be supportive of, and feel well served by,

bypass, the planning group might work out


scenarios where automobile traffic increases,

Models for Bypass Planning: In transportation planning, there are several planning tools that have proved effective in helping a community engage in the process and voice their vision for not only the roadway being planned, but for the future of their community. These tools are: 1) scenario planning, 2) visioning, 3) corridor planning, 4) regional planning and 5) rural consultation.74 These are tools that have been used with

decreases or remains the same. The group might also look at scenarios where mass transit and bicycling increase or decrease. The group would also create additional scenarios where other factors would change, such as environment, the demographics of the area, local and regional employment, etc. The group would then “play out” these scenarios to their logical conclusion. Sometimes, a matrix is created from all the factors and then the results plotted in the matrix for comparison.

success with small and rural communities. 74 Hannah Twaddell & Dan Emerine. Best Practices to Enhance the Transportation–Land Use Connection in the Rural United States. Transportation Research Board. 2007. P.18.

75 David Niles, “The Secret Of Successful Scenario Planning” Forbes, Internet: http://www.forbes.com/2009/08/03/scenario-planning-advice-leadership-managing-planning.html 2/5/10.



Visioning is a process where a group puts

transportation is just one aspect of the plan.

forward a general idea of what the future

Economic development, environmental

change will look like and affect the existing

impact, land-use and other large issues are

condition. In a design problem, the visioning

the more important issues that drive the

is done many times through a process known

design of transportation networks. Regional

as a charette. The charette is a process where

planning tries to map the direction of an entire

a group of experts and citizens flesh out a

geographical, social and political area. Within

schematic proposal together in a short span of

the larger regional planning effort, corridor

time. Usually what is produced are sketches that

planning and other more concentrated planning

give a sense and extent of the design proposed.

efforts can occur.

The value of such a process is that the intent of

The use of one of these or another

a large number of participants is crystallized for

planning model depends on what needs to

future groups to implement.

be accomplished. Scenario planning and

Corridor planning and regional planning

visioning might best be used for consensus

are similar concepts. Corridor planning

building among stakeholder groups, while

identifies a potential route for a roadway and

corridor and regional planning are processes

then gathers together all of the groups that will

that can bring diverse stakeholder groups

have a potential impact or need to have a say in

together. The process chosen needs to not

the process of planning that route. The groups

only take into account where the project is

involved in planning are not tied to any political

in its process of realization, but how best to

or legal boundaries; in fact, the idea of corridor

involve the stakeholders so that the process

planning is to supersede all of the boundaries

gathers the most input and direction from those

that impede the successful planning of a large


road project. Regional planning is similar, but an even greater land area and perspective is required than corridor planning. In regional planning,

Best Practices: While a process by which the concerns

Control Uses at the Highway Interchange and Along the Roadway: A highway bypass, particularly at the

and desires of the community is critical to the design of any roadway, the design of a new

interchange, has always been an area where

roadway provides opportunities to implement

developers have sought to locate. The

some best practices that an existing situation

Interstate Highway Act of 1956 restricted

would make more difficult. These are some

commercial development along the right of

practices that towns need to consider in the

way. As a result, the interchange of a restricted

design of any new highway bypass. They are as

access highway has become the prime location


for commerce due to our auto-centric culture.

Control Uses at the Highway Interchange and Along the Roadway

Re-think the Relationship between Lots

Make a Clear, Short Path into Town

Promote Cross Roads over Frontage Roads A Holistic and Coherent Image from the Bypass By following these practices, towns can better integrate the bypass into the existing town, making the bypass work for both new development and the existing businesses and residents.

The amount of automobile traffic that travels past the interchange and easy access from the highway motivates retailers, distributors, offices and even residential developers to locate near the interchange.

As a result, interchanges of major roads

and highways have become crowded with both traffic and development. When retail locates near a bypass interchange, particularly a big box or retail center, shoppers from other localities do not go into the town but only stop at the interchange. While the town does get the sales tax revenue from the retail there if it is in the city limits, there is not an additional boost 76 Joseph Mason & Charles Moore, “A Note on Interchange Location practices by developers of Major Retail Centers�, Land Economics, p. 184-187.


to the city because of shoppers seeing other

In the absence of a clear vision and plan from

retailers and spending more. The tendency then

the community, commercial interests will

is for everyone with an in-town location to try

supply their vision or standard solution on a

to get closer to the interchange, causing more

community. Towns must be clear about what

congestion. These interchanges are usually

their expectations are of landowners and

poorly designed or not designed for walking

potential developers for these interchanges.

or biking, so the large amounts of land needed

To clarify all of these issues, towns must

to navigate automobiles from one business to

do the strategic thinking and planning that

another makes getting close to the interchange

will convince commercial interests that their

even more difficult. The problem begins to feed

vision is comprehensive, sound, shared by all

on itself while the traditional, pedestrian retail

and profitable to invest in. This will require

areas of town are emptied out.

a planning process that involves all of the

One of the keys to avoiding this situation

stakeholders and then the implementation of

is to control what and to what extent uses are

those principles into zoning and development

allowed at and near the highway interchange.

regulations that will be fairly enforced by the

Towns must determine what they want the


nature of this intersection between their town and the highway should be. Is the bypass a parkway bypass so that the development

Re-Think the Relationship Between Lots: If the town believes that intensive

around the intersection should be limited to

development along the bypass or at the

traveler’s services? If the interchange is to

interchange is important to the economic

support commercial activity, how can the

viability of the town, then the way that the

interchange be developed to not only support

development is designed needs to not only

this development, but also support downtown

connect the new bypass area to the existing

development? Can this development be

historic and commercial downtown, but create

designed in a way to allow for many modes of

an urban area of its own. Residents of this new

transportation such as walking and biking?

part of the town can walk to the commercial

area safely, connect to other parts of town via a number of street networks, find local recreation

relationship.77 The implementation of this zoning into

and open space without having to drive and

land bays was the result of a number of

have a number of transportation options as

concerns by real estate developers and

well. The goal is not to make independent

highway planners in the post-war era. These

developments ultimately dependent on the

concerns include the uncertainty of nearby

highway bypass, but make a vibrant community

development, and avoiding nuisances from

composed of individual developments adjacent

neighbors.78 Additionally, since the post-war

to, but independent of, the bypass. Such a

era, the automobile has been promoted as the

community can integrate into the existing town

sole means of transportation and where the

more easily and perhaps survive the day when

connection of the local street to the arterial and

the town further grows and moves road and

not to other local streets was the goal.

other transportation connections again. A key to creating new communities like

We now know these goals create a suburban city structure that is unsustainable

this is to rethink the standard notion of a lot. In

both ecologically and culturally. To break this

a typical suburban development pattern, lots

pattern, the idea of independent land bays

are seen as independent of their neighbors,

needs to be broken down. The first step is for

buildings protected from incompatible use

the land bays to be reconnected to adjoining

and nuisance of neighbors by zoning code

lots with an interconnecting street pattern. By

mandated space all around. This planning idea

creating an interconnecting street pattern, more

has been termed the “land bay”, a condition

opportunity is made for traffic to move both to

where the traditional building to building

the arterial and highway bypass, but also to the

relationship of city design is replaced by these

town center. The interconnecting street pattern

independent bays where the relationship

also allows the use of smaller streets

between the land around the building and particularly the parking lot around the building and the building is the most important

77 Stephen Kieran and James Timberlake, “A Tale of Two Cities”, Architectural Design, No. 108, 1994. 78 Nico Larco, “Overlooked Density: Rethinking Transportation Options in Suburbia”, report for the Oregon Transportation Research and Education Consortium, Jan. 2010


where pedestrian and bicycle traffic can occur

their buildings oriented to a street or sidewalk

more easily. These streets, in fact, need to be

or use walkways to bring pedestrians and

designed so that pedestrian and bicycle traffic

bikers in. The key is to make safe, visually clear

are well accommodated with sidewalks and

connections for bikers and pedestrians between

bicycle lanes.

these commercial developments.

In creating an interconnected street system,

As density of the new community increases

the possibility of large scale developments is

or is planned to be more dense, traditional

not closed off. The interconnection of streets

urban patterns will appear. Buildings will be

does not necessarily have to occur on a

attached to one another, as will front streets

gridded, block by block basis to be effective.

and arterials. Parking will occur on street and in

The key is to have multiple street connections

back lots or even in structured parking garages.

with pedestrian paths that connect to other

The network of streets should be much denser

residential developments and commercial areas.

but also with slower speed traffic.

The ability of developers to make these multiple

The breaking down of the land bay creates

connections and not suffer the consequences of

a pattern of development that allows new

uncertainty of what neighboring developments

development near the bypass to integrate into

do must be handled by zoning ordinance and

the city and not into the bypass. By making

the planning department of the town.

the basic unit of development conform to

Commercial development as well must be

requirements for greater and multiple means

designed to accommodate not only automobile

of access, the need to connect directly to the

traffic from an arterial, but bus, bicycle

arterial is diminished. The role of the bypass

and pedestrian access from nearby streets.

becomes to support the town and not to be an

Customers to commercial developments must

alternative to the town.

be able to walk safely from one development to the next, without having to get in their cars and drive from one land bay to the next. To facilitate this access, commercial developments can have

Make a Clear, Short Path into Town: As stated in chapter four, making an entrance from the bypass into the town is critical to promoting the town from the bypass. The opportunity with the planning of a new bypass is to not only design a gateway but to plan the route into town. A key element is to create a direct and short path to the downtown area from bypass. If the path to the downtown is long or circuitous, then visitors to the town will only frequent businesses by the bypass. The opportunity for visitors to spend their money in

elements to signal the location of important areas of a town is of course an age old idea. Medieval cathedrals were made to tower over a city not only to create awe inspiring interiors but to signal their central presence in the city. While cathedral building is not very practical for a town these days, the use of a large flag, the painting of a water tower, even the night lighting of downtown buildings can help to identify the downtown area from a long distance and thus decrease the perceived distance.

businesses throughout the community and also extend their stay is diminished without clear and short access to the downtown. In addition, a clear, short path promotes the development of commercial areas close to the downtown rather than at the bypass intersection. The length of connection to the downtown area, however, is not a single number. Instead, it is dependent on the perception of closeness. The center of town might be a mile away from the interchange, but if the spire of the downtown courthouse is clearly seen, then the perception of distance is shortened. The use of visual axes and large architectural

Image 30: Leflore County Courthouse in Greenwood


A tactic, just as effective in shortening the perceived distance to the downtown, would be to bring elements of the downtown area toward the bypass. In that case, the connector between the bypass and the downtown should be perceived as part of the downtown area. The connector should be an avenue with parallel parking. Buildings should line the avenue in a density that is comparable to the traditional downtown or there should at least be an attempt to create a “street wall” through the use of trees lining the avenue. The use of the word “avenue” and not road to describe this path to the downtown area is deliberate. The path must feel as if it is part of the downtown area from the instant that the automobile leaves the exit. The use of planted islands, sidewalks, banners and other elements that signal a dense, developed area will give the impression that the downtown area is nearby even though it may be at a distance. The development of this path to the downtown as an avenue will also signal its desirability for development, further strengthening the avenue as the path leading to the downtown area.

Promote Crossroads Over Frontage Roads: Offered as a solution to arterials clogged with traffic in the 1960s, frontage roads are parallel roads directly adjacent to arterials meant to relieve that traffic. The idea behind a frontage road is that local business traffic is routed to the frontage road while through traffic is routed to the arterial, in this case the highway bypass. Many times the reason to provide a frontage road is for the gain of landowners along a limited access highway. The frontage road provides access to a location visible along the highway, which in an autocentric development is critical to promotion and thus sales. Legally as well, many states when routing interstate highways with limited access could either pay damages for access lost or construct frontage roads.79 While the theory of the frontage road seems sound, the implementation of these frontage roads is not as straightforward. The intersection between the frontage road and exits off the highway are complex and 79 Kockelman, Machmehl, Overman, Sesker, Madi, Peterman & Handy, “Frontage Roads: Assessment of Legal Issues, Design Decisions, Costs, Operations, and Land Development Differences”, Journal of Transportation Engineering, May-June 2003, p.243

confusing. In frontage road situations where

frontage or a backage road, the problem with

access from retail and commercial development

both of these solutions is that they direct

to the frontage road is frequent and poorly

development along the bypass rather than

defined, an increase in crashes and injuries also

heading toward the town. As we have seen,

occurs.80 Frontage roads require at least 300

when commercial development is along the

feet between the intersection of the arterial/

bypass, there is the likelihood that traffic

cross road intersection and the frontage road

will not find its way to the historic business


district and result in an autonomous bypass


Many times these dimensions between

roads are not available. An alternate is to use a backage road. A

situation. The commercial development along the bypass will prosper fueled by automobile

backage road is a road parallel to an arterial

traffic while businesses in the historic

but in the back of the property fronting the

commercial downtown will decrease. To fuel

arterial road. A backage road solves several

commercial development both in the historic

of the access problems of the frontage road

business district as well as off of the bypass,

by moving the road outlet further away from

development off of the cross road leading into

the arterial/cross road intersection. A further

the town rather than on a frontage or backage

benefit of the backage road is that the road

road is required.

accesses properties on both sides of the road

The argument from developers is that

rather than just on one side as with a frontage

traffic count is the key to retail success and

road. The costs of the backage road can then be

the greatest traffic count is always along the

borne by more commercial developments and

bypass. The developers are right in that the

so become more economical. Whether it’s a

more eyes that see a retail business, the better

80 Kockelman, Machmehl, Overman, Sesker, Madi, Peterman & Handy, “Frontage Roads: Assessment of Legal Issues, Design Decisions, Costs, Operations, and Land Development Differences”, Journal of Transportation Engineering, May-June 2003, p.245 81 Center for Transportation Research and Education, “Access Management Toolkit: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions”, Iowa State University, Internet: http://www.ctre.iastate.edu/Research/access/toolkit/, March 29, 2010.

chance of success. However, there are a number of existing approaches to the problem of retail identity. The most common solution is to bring the retail identity of many individual businesses


under the umbrella of a single brand. This

stations and hotels should be readily available,

is the model a shopping mall follows. While

but then lead to a well defined boulevard

shoppers will know and the mall will promote

with retail and services. Larger retail and big

certain anchor stores, the overall quality and

box destinations can be placed further down

shopping experience is represented by the

the boulevard to entice drivers to pass other

overall promotion of the mall. This type of

shops and to travel into the town itself. The

branding certainly happens as well with towns

central business district of the town would then

and cities. Towns and cities are known for

become the other ‘anchor’ of the town’s

different experiences. Oxford, MS is known for the Square and the variety of shops, restaurants and bars to be found. Ocean Springs, MS is known for its arts community and galleries. Rather than try to cram every possible lot visible from the bypass onto a frontage road or even at the interchange in order to get an identity, retail businesses and the town itself would be better served by establishing an overall identity from the bypass and then creating a hierarchy of retail experiences on the cross-road, much like a mall carefully places stores to ensure shoppers traverse the entire mall. At the interchange between the highway bypass and the cross-road, signage, landscape and even large scale artwork can identify the town and its overall marketing. Once enticed off of the bypass, traveler’s services such as gas

Image 31: Lafayette County Courthouse

retail experience. Smaller specialty stores and restaurants would be good tenants and if some of the larger stores could be convinced to locate downtown, an even greater anchor to the town can be created. Most of these ideas can be enacted through a process of community planning and then changes to zoning. Citizens and local governments, in order to change the conventional development model, need to be

committed to seeing the entire community

existing bypasses. A full discussion of these

benefit from a bypass and convince retailers,

strategies can be found in chapter four.

and especially local land owners ready to profit

In the end, both careful and community

from the conventional site locations, that they

based planning, as well as using these

will reap more benefit from a coordinated effort

strategies outlined above to integrate the

to bring visitors and shoppers to the town.

bypass and its associated development into the

While some of these ideas are counter

town, are critical to avoiding a situation such

to conventional retail wisdom, conventional

as the autonomous bypass, where the bypass

wisdom has brought only the model of

is a foreign entity that has very little to do with

the autonomous bypass; a failed model of

the traditional and historic center and local

congestion on the bypass and an emptying of

businesses. The new bypass and the historic

the historic downtown business district. Towns

town need to work together, certainly providing

need to put their own well-being and future

different services and experiences to residents

first when dealing with issues of planning and

as well as visitors, but supporting each other

zoning. A town with a strong sense of who they

and the town as a whole.

are and what they are trying to accomplish can convince retail and business of the worth of that direction and to become a part of that overall success.

A Holistic and Coherent Image from the Bypass: As developed in the previous chapter, the implementation of coherent marketing, image and road signage strategies as well as the idea of a gateway are just as important to new highway bypass development as it is for



as simply a technical decision miss or hide the real consequences of such a decision. Likewise, the idea that only by raising roadway capacity

The emergence of the highway bypass as a typical solution to road congestion is a phenomena of the 20th century. As we move

can the problem of congestion be solved is a discredited and one-sided approach. The transportation solutions of today and

further into the 21st century, the predominance

tomorrow are not just transportation solutions;

of a solely road-based transportation network

these solutions must also be new ways of living,

will have to change due to the congestion

working and playing in communities. The

created by this car-oriented policy, global

solution to the problem of traffic congestion

climate change, and the declining supply of oil.

today is multivariate. Major changes in our

In this context, decisions that towns make in

lives, such as creating or reviving areas of

terms of their transportation networks need to

higher density, pedestrian oriented, mixed-

take these factors into account. Transportation

use towns are just as much traffic congestion

infrastructure can last decades and even

solutions as increasing road capacity. Only by

centuries. Towns need to look beyond their

tackling these problems of town and highway

immediate problems and needs and plan into

urbanism from all directions will new answers

the future.


For that reason, an open process where

Mississippi’s small towns can be the leaders

not only the future of roadways, but also the

in charting a new relationship between the

growth, character and economic development

highway and the historic town center. While

of the town into the future is discussed, argued

small towns have been decimated in many other

and finally planned for is necessary. A decision

parts of the country, many of Mississippi’s small

as large as a bypass, potentially changing the

towns have been preserved. The pedestrian

economic balance of a town, must be agreed

scaled environment which is being replicated in

upon by the town as a whole. Efforts to

New Urbanist developments across the country

characterize the decision to create a bypass

exists here already. What is needed is the

conviction by these towns to not only preserve, but to grow these cores of their town. By simply asking the question, how will new roads, bypasses, and growth strengthen the downtown core, the orientation will be away from development that simply replicates the sprawl that has taken over much of the rest of the country toward a more sustainable future.


Image Credits Page 8:

1 | Tennessee Department of Transportation

2 | California Department of Public Works, Division of Highways

Page 9:

3 | http://jamminglobal.blogspot.com/2011/08/europe-part-5- switzerland-for.html

Page 10:

4 | fakoman - http://www.flickr.com/photos/maskology/3804402705/

Page 17:

5 | Matt Lemmon - http://www.flickr.com/photos/mplemmon/2744596887/

Page 21:

6 | AT&T, BP, Starbucks, Wal-Mart, Target, Texaco

Page 29:

7 | http://scarsdaleonmymind.com/2011/04/29/bronx-river-parkway-bicycle-sundays-start-this-


8 | Hugh Morton - http://gosoutheast.about.com/od/mountainswaterfalls/ss/blue_ridge_


9 | Doug Kerr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/maskology/3804402705/

Page 30:

10 | Mike_tn - http://www.flickr.com/photos beginasyouare/265605326/sizes/o/in/photostream/

Page 31:

11 | Hyungwon Kang - http://ycpics.com/inspiration/colors-of-autumn/attachment/early-

sunday-morning-view-of-the-george-washington-parkway-in-mclean-virginia/ Page 32:

12 | http://www.gribblenation.com/wvpics/subs/us250n-truck-elkins.JPG

Page 36:

13 | Tonkin Zulaikha Greer - http://www.tzg.com.au/projects/craigieburn-bypass

Page 37:

14 | Tonkin Zulaikha Greer - http://www.tzg.com.au/projects/craigieburn-bypass

Page 38:

15 | Tonkin Zulaikha Greer - http://www.tzg.com.au/projects/craigieburn-bypass

Page 39-40:

Full Page | Portland Plan Urban Form Report

Page 45:

16 | BP America http://www.flickr.com/photos bpamerica/4644840115/in/photostream/

Page 50:

17 | Wagner Stephens - http://wagner-stephens.blogspot.com/ 2012/01/land-of-mosby.html

Page 51: 18 | http://www.petergreenberg.com/b/Civil-War-Travel:- Loudoun-County,-Virginia/-140224457674472559.html Page 58:

19 | http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=34020

Page 59:

20 | http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=34020

Page 60:

21 | http://blog.movingcost.com/local/mississippi/impressive-hattiesburg-ms.html

Page 61:

22 | Save Our Post Office - http://nddc.org/weblog/

Page 62:

23 | Mississippi Main Street

24 | Mississippi Main Street

25 | Mississippi Main Street

26 | Mississippi Main Street

Page 64:

27 | Mississippi Main Street

Page 68:

28 | http://www.aaroads.com/guide.php?page=i0065nbin

Page 69:

29 | http://www.aaroads.com/guide.php?page=i0065nbin

Page 71-72:

Full Page | David Holzapfel - http://thisvtlife.com/2010/04/30/highlights-of-the-part-ii-of-the-community-

meeting/ Page 82:

30 | Taylor M. Polites - http://taylorpolites.blogspot. com/2012/03/greenwood.html

Page 85:

31 | http://live.oxfordms.com/recreation-oxford-mississippi/historic-heritage-tourism-sites/

Profile for Carl Small Town Center

Mississippi Bypass Guidelines  

These guidelines for highway bypasses in the State of Mississippi are intended to be used as a resource for elected officials, transportatio...

Mississippi Bypass Guidelines  

These guidelines for highway bypasses in the State of Mississippi are intended to be used as a resource for elected officials, transportatio...


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