Urban Research Initiative: Infrastructure and Metropolitan Development
Alex Anas Principal Investigator
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This research project, supported under the Urban Research Initiative, combines urban economists, transportation engineers, and urban and regional planners in a project to design and implement a dynamic, general equilibrium model of the Chicago metropolitan region. The purpose is to evaluate the net benefits of alternative metropolitan futures with a model designed to analyze the effects of: 1) transportation and other infrastructure investments, schools and open space on metropolitan areas; 2) alternative infrastructure financing schemes for each type of infrastructure as well as average versus marginal cost pricing; 3) land use regulations such as urban growth boundaries, greenbelts and green corridors, minimum density limitations and use-oriented zoning.<br/><br/>The model is sufficiently disaggregated with respect to income, work vs. non-work travel in peak and off-peak periods, industrial sectors and inter-industry linkages, multiple housing and commercial building types, to enable evaluation of the impacts of alternative policies on various socio-economic groups to be identified.<br/><br/>To estimate and implement the model, the investigators are utilizing data from the Northeastern Illinois Planning Commission, the Chicago Area Transportation Study and the 1900 Census. They are also building of the Chicago regional economic model developed jointly by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago and the Regional Economic Applications Laboratory of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Representatives of these organizations plus the Metropolitan Planning Council, a citizens group, serve as an advisory board for the research project.<br/><br/>The resulting prototype model is used to examine whether and how the above policy options influence the long-term course of metropolitan development. In particular, the investigators focus on three visions of the future, frequently debated in the literature: a) laissez-faire with control of metropolitan decentralization at the margin; b) compact city emphasizing aggressive land use controls to increase densities and public transit-oriented development; c) centralization-within-decentralization emphasizing sub-centers and edge city formation. The central question is whether combinations of infrastructure and land use policies can be found which, over a period of time, induce adjustments in land uses to alter existing patterns, and how the above visions compare in economic efficiency, equity among different groups, and indices of urban environmental quality.