Tuesday, April 24, 2007
It's a "smart" idea to foster development near existing transportation routes, right? And although smart-growth advocates always favor rail and other public transit first, it has long been considered good land use policy to encourage growth near freeways, as well. Through this "infill," natural areas may be preserved, while auto commutes may be limited.
But in a new study of air pollution in Oregon, a environmental science professor has concluded that living and working close to freeways exposes one to much greater amounts of air pollution, and at further distances from the freeway, than previously thought.
Does this mean that land use law should discourage new construction near freeways and create wide buffers around them? No, this would seem to be an over-reaction. In fact, such a system might create more pollution, by virtue of requiring more driving and more burning of gasoline. But it's worth remembering that most supposed "quick fixes" in land use law are likely to have their drawbacks. It's through the balancing of advantages and drawbacks, in place-specific decisions, that good land use policy is created.