Gridding West Midway |

Midway West District Current and Future Roads sketch
Midway West District Current and Future Roads sketch

Neighborhoods change. Technologies change. Economies change. While today a Distribution Center is advantageous in the West Midway Industrial Area, because the sunk costs are sunk and all the buildings are built and relocating is expensive, that might not always be true. Eventually these structures will be obsolete for the demands of the day, or a newer and higher use will bid them out. Today, newer distribution centers tend to be in the outer suburbs with better freeway access.

Recently the Green Line was opened with a station nearby, and much of this industrial land is within walking distance of the Raymond Avenue station (which to be precise is entirely east of Raymond Avenue). When this neighborhood changes, it might be wise to break up the large industrially-optimal superblocks for a more residentially-optimal fine grained grid. Change sometimes occurs quickly. Providing more East-West connectivity is especially important, so not all traffic is driven down to University Avenue. It might be wise to get those lines in the plan before proposals come before City to redevelop, so those redevelopments can it least be required to dedicate the right-of-way if not building the appropriate streets.

Getting this exactly right is not critical, there is no anticipatable precisely perfect location for future streets in a changing, adaptable world. Getting this basically right is important, a fine-meshed grid makes a difference for local circulation. However, knowing this is likely to be piecemeal, and knowing that roads should be and will be built opportunistically, but should not taking existing buildings with thriving businesses, means a rough sketch should be drawn with contingencies. The attached figure is a rough sketch.

The top black line and red lines are  the posited or dreamed about westward extension of the Pierce Butler Route, denoted for reference. The blue lines illustrate a finer meshed grid in this area. Think about them as respecting property lines where possible, going through currently paved but unstructured land where possible. The most important pieces are making sure all the East-West streets connect to Vandalia Street, and thus to I-94, and making sure the North-South streets connect to Territorial Road, and thus to Mn-280.

From east to west, the map shows

  1. a new North-South street breaking up the superblock from Charles Avenue to the end of Capp Road
  2. a second new North-South street breaking up the second superblock from Territorial to Capp Road.

These streets are circulatory in nature, and designed for access to properties in a redeveloped site.

From south to north, the map shows in blue

  1. Territorial extending to Transfer Road, through the old Amtrak station, across Railroad tracks, and into Minnehaha Avenue. Traffic calm to suit.
  2. Ellis Avenue extending to Hampden Avenue
  3. Wycliff Avenue extending to Transfer Road

These streets should achieve the aims of an extended Pierce Butler Route without running rough through the St. Anthony Park neighborhood. In particular, by directing  traffic toward Vandalia and Territorial, and thus to freeways, it should reduce through traffic in other areas and stray trucks on streets that should be more pedestrian and transit oriented.


Cross-posted at

Accessibility, Equity and Efficiency Challenges for Transport and Public Services

Accessibility, Equity and Efficiency Challenges for Transport and Public Services NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Professor of Transport Planning, University of Twente, the Netherlands, Roberto Patuelli, Associate Professor of Economic Policy, University of Bologna, Italy and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho, Professor of Regional, Environmental and Agricultural Economics, University of the Azores, Portugal
Accessibility, Equity and Efficiency Challenges for Transport and Public Services NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Roberto Patuelli,  and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho.

NECTAR Series on Transportation and Communications Networks Research
Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Roberto Patuelli and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho
Category:Monograph Book
Publisher:Edward Elgar Publishing
Published in print:26 Feb 2016

Accessibility models not only help to explain spatial and transport developments in developed and developing countries but also are powerful tools to explain the equity and efficiency impacts of urban and transport policies and projects. In this book, leading researchers from around the world show the importance of accessibility in contemporary issues such as rural depopulation, investments in public services and public transport and transport infrastructure investments in Europe.


Table of Contents:

PART I: Introduction

Chapter 1: Accessibility, equity and efficiency
Karst T. Geurs, Tomaz Ponce Dentinho and Roberto Patuelli
Download PDF  (144.4 KB)

PART II: Equity issues in population accessibility

Chapter 2: Does accessibility still matter? Evidence from Swiss municipalities
Boris A. Portnov

Chapter 3: Population decline and accessibility in the Portuguese interior
Paulo Rui Anciães

Chapter 4: Rural depopulation, labour market accessibility and housing prices
David Philip McArthur, Liv Osland, Inge Thorsen and Jan Ubøe

PART III: Equity in access to daily activities and services

Chapter 5: Ensuring accessibility to daily activities for different population segments with respect to sharp increases in mobility costs
Benjamin Büttner, Gebhard Wulfhorst and Jordan Evans

Chapter 6: Efficiency and equity indicators to evaluate different patterns of accessibility to public services: an application to Huambo, Angola
César Pakissi and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho

PART IV: Efficiency of railroads and train station access

Chapter 7: Influence of the first and last mile on HSR accessibility levels
Andrés Monzón, Emilio Ortega and Elena López

Chapter 8: Train station access and train use: a joint stated and revealed preference choice modelling study
Lissy La Paix and Karst T. Geurs

Chapter 9: Industrial accessibility and the efficiency of the US freight railroads
Kenneth Button, Zhenhua Chen and Rui Neiva

PART V: Accessibility evaluation and appraisal

Chapter 10: The value of bicycle trail access in home purchases
Paul Mogush, Kevin J. Krizek and David Levinson

Chapter 11: Accessibility and territorial cohesion: ex post analysis of Cohesion Fund infrastructure projects
Mert Kompil, Hande Demirel and Panayotis Christidis

Edited by Karst T. Geurs, Roberto Patuelli and Tomaz Ponce Dentinho
Download PDF (100.9 KB)

International Symposium on the Sharing Economy: Public Forum

Initiative on the Sharing Economy banner

Save the date!

International Symposium on the Sharing Economy:
Public Forum

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Commons Hotel
Minneapolis, MN

Are you interested in learning more about how the sharing economy is affecting the transportation industry?

Also known as collaborative consumption, the sharing economy is a growing trend away from the exclusive ownership and consumption of resources to one of shared use and consumption via peer-to-peer online platforms. The consequences of this trend for the transportation sector are many, potentially affecting everything from car ownership to road congestion to investments in infrastructure and public transit.

With a focus on shared mobility, this public forum will explore the promise—and potential perils—of the sharing economy. Practitioners, entrepreneurs, government representatives, and other leading thinkers will share their perspectives in presentations and panel discussions.

The forum, open to anyone interested in learning more about the sharing economy, is being held as part of the two-day International Symposium on the Sharing Economy . The symposium, which also includes a research workshop, aims to bring together leaders from academia, industry, nonprofits, and government to explore the emerging area of collaborative consumption and stimulate interdisciplinary research and collaboration.

More Information

Additional information about the event will be added to the symposium web page as it becomes available. With questions, please contact Hannah Grune, 612-626-4965 or

About the Initiative on the Sharing Economy

The Initiative on the Sharing Economy was established by the Center for Transportation Studiesunder the leadership of Saif Benjaafar, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the Department of Industrial & Systems Engineering, and in partnership with other faculty members across the University of Minnesota.

‘New logistics’ will change the way goods are delivered—and how the road network is used

Cross-posted from CTS Catalyst

Today, moving freight accounts for more than a third of the world’s transport energy—and that share is growing. The rise in global trade, online retailing, and business-to-business delivery is not only changing how goods are moved but also the type of goods moved and how far or frequently they are transported.

Currently, this massive movement of goods throughout the economy relies on an intricate—and largely decentralized— multimodal network of truck, rail, ship, and airplane delivery. However, change is on the horizon. In a study sponsored by the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) and the Minnesota Local Road Research Board, U of M experts outline the important impacts these changes will have on the road network and transportation infrastructure.

“There is hope that new methods of organization and proposed standardization will increase efficiency of freight movement and give rise to a new era of goods transport,” says Adam Boies, an assistant professor in the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Geo- Engineering (CEGE). “In the years to come, we expect that advances in logistics systems will be enabled by new technologies, approaches, and the desire for increased efficiency.”

Changes in the way logistics operations are organized will help drive advances. New information technology permits the sharing of data between and across businesses, which in turn drives efficiency and leads to fuller vehicles. “This may reduce the distance traveled by heavy goods vehicles per unit of GDP, which may in turn reduce costs and entice more demand for delivered goods,” says CEGE professor David Levinson, the study’s principal investigator. “Ultimately, this could mean fewer trips by individual consumers and more deliveries. We anticipate the result will be a net reduction in distance traveled.”

The study also examined some of the potential drivers for changes in the freight industry as a result of logistics reorganization. These include supply chain pooling, in which individual logistics operations are shared between collaborators, and the Physical Internet Initiative, which seeks to create standards for packaging to enable the homogenization of freight technology. “While both of these advancements have the potential to increase logistics efficiency by reducing the transportation of empty loads, they will also increase truck weights—which may increase pavement damage,” Boies says.

Other transportation and logistics changes will result from shifts in the ways businesses and consumers receive goods and services, including business-to-business systems and technologies that enable a sharing economy, same-day delivery services, 3-D printing, and “last mile” delivery services. In addition, a growing portion of purchases can be delivered directly over the Internet. “Delivery is easily automated for data-based goods like books, music, video, and software,” Levinson says. “Purchases that could once only be completed by moving things can now be done by moving data.”

The research is part of a multi-pronged study that analyzed the technological shifts altering surface transportation and the implications for Minnesota. Other contributors included associate professors Jason Cao and Yingling Fan of the Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Their high-level white papers are compiled in a final report: The Transportation Futures Project: Planning for Technology Change. Future issues of Catalyst will share findings from other chapters.

Related Links

Access for All

Our work on the  The End of Traffic and the Future of Transport, and on accessibility is featured in Inventing Tomorrow (p.19) (via Issuu).

Which links to this CSE Research Spotlight video about the Accessibility Observatory work:

My transportation colleagues John Hourdos and Chen-fu Liao are also featured.


Inventing Tomorrow: David Levinson: Access for All

The effect of road network structure on speeding using GPS data

This paper analyzes the relationship between road network structure and speeding usspeedlimiting GPS data collected from 152 individuals over a 7 day period. To investigate the relationship, we develop an algorithm and process to match the GPS data and GIS data accurately. Comparing actual travel speed from GPS data with posted speed limits, we measure where and when speeding occurs, and by whom. We posit that road network structure shapes the decision to speed. Speeding is large in both high speed limit zones (e.g. 60 mph (97 km/h)) and low speed limit zones (less than 25 mph (40 km/h)); in contrast, speeding is much lower in the 30 – 35 mph (48-56 km/h) zones. The results suggest driving patterns depend on the road type. We also find that if there are many intersections on the road, the average link speed (and speeding) drops. Long links are conducive to speeding.

Found in Translation: The Transportation Experience in Albanian and Bulgarian

Oxford University Press sent to me copies of the First Edition of The Transportation Experience translated into a couple of foreign languages. It’s Big in Bulgaria and Albania. If you want to read it in English, go here.

Experience with Transportation (Albanian)
Experience with Transportation (Albanian)
The Transportation Experience (in Bulgarian)




William L. Garrison and David M. Levinson are pleased to announce the publication of their book The Transportation Experience: Second Edition

The book is available for order at Oxford University Press (see Flyer for 20% discount),  AmazoniBooks,  and Barnes and Noble

ISBN-10: 0199862710 and ISBN-13: 978-0199862719

Book Description 

The Transportation Experience explores the historical evolution of transportation modes and technologies. The book traces how systems are innovated, planned and adapted, deployed and expanded, and reach maturity, where they may either be maintained in a polished obsolesce often propped up by subsidies, be displaced by competitors, or be reorganized and renewed. An array of examples supports the idea that modern policies are built from past experiences. William Garrison and David Levinson assert that the planning (and control) of nonlinear, unstable processes is today’s central transportation problem, and that this is universal and true of all modes. Modes are similar, in that they all have a triad structure of network, vehicles, and operations; but this framework counters conventional wisdom. Most think of each mode as having a unique history and status, and each is regarded as the private playground of experts and agencies holding unique knowledge, operating in isolated silos. However, this book argues that while modes have an appearance of uniqueness, the same patterns repeat: systems policies, structures, and behaviors are a generic design on varying modal cloth. In the end, the illusion of uniqueness proves to be myopic. While it is true that knowledge has accumulated from past experiences, the heavy hand of these experiences places boundaries on current knowledge; especially on the ways professionals define problems and think about processes. The Transportation Experience provides perspective for the collections of models and techniques that are the essence of transportation science, and also expands the boundaries of current knowledge of the field.


Reviews of the first edition of the book appear in:

  • ITS Review
  • Journal of Regional Science: Volume 46 p. 993 (download)
  • Growth and Change: Volume 37, Issue 1, p. 158 (download)
  • Journal of the American Planning Association: Autumn 2007; 73, 4, p. 477 (download)


Table of Contents


Part One – Wave One: 1790–1851

  • 1. Rivers of Steam
  • 2. Design by Design: The Birth of the Railway
  • 3. The Turnpike Era

Part Two – Phase 1 of the Life-Cycle

  • 4. Inventing and Innovating

Part Three – Wave Two 1844–1896

  • 5. Maritime Modes
  • 6. Railroads Deployed
  • 7. Good Roads
  • 8. Transit
  • 9. Telegraph

Part Four – Phase 2 of the Life-Cycle

  • 10. Magic Bullet

Part Five – Wave Three 1890-1950

  • 11. American Shipping
  • 12. Taking Flight
  • 13. Railroads Regulated
  • 14. Bustitution
  • 15. Public Roads
  • 16. Urban Planning: Who Controls the Turf?
  • 17. Telephone

Part Six – Phase 3 of the Life-Cycle

  • 18. Aging

Part Seven – Wave Four: 1939-1991

  • 19. Logistics
  • 20. The Jet Age
  • 21. Railroads Rationalized
  • 22. Interstate
  • 23. Recapitalization
  • 24. Lord Kelvin’s Curse

Part Eight – Life-Cycle Dynamics

  • 25. Lifecycle
  • 26. Meta-cycles

Part Nine – Wave Five: Modern Times

  • 27. Energy and Environment
  • 28. Higher-speed rail
  • 29. Internet
  • 30. Technology: Hard and Soft

Part Ten – Beyond the Life-Cycle

  • 31. Policy
  • 32. Speculations

Part Eleven – Afterwords: Reflections on Transportation Experiences

  • 33. I-35W
  • 34. Design of a Life
  • 35. Commencement

Part Twelve – End Matter

  • Appendix
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

On Skyways and Bridges

My urbanist friends mostly hate skyways [and that’s just Bill Lindeke] [ has 13 pages of posts about skyways. This blog has a few as well].

A dictionary says:
sky·walk  (skī′wôk′) n. An elevated, usually enclosed walkway between two buildings. Also called skyway.

I will not comment on the use of skyway vs. skywalk, that’s just like Ramp and Garage.
While I point out that streets steal urban activity from the skyway system, they seem to feel the converse is more relevant. Yet who is to say the street level should be for people not cars? Why should humans lower (one might say degrade) themselves by letting mechanical vehicles share their space. Why shouldn’t they rise above, as Leonardo DaVinci would have them do (Figure #0)?

Figure #0 Leonardo Da Vinci sketch of a multistory city with canals/water at the lowest level and pedestrians above.

Certainly, it cannot be roofs that urbanists object to. Almost all of them live in shelters with roofs. They all advocate roofs for their mass transit vehicle. So what is special about the short trip between their shelter and their vehicle, that it must remain unroofed.

Further it cannot be the lack of vehicles, many urbanists like pedestrian zones so long as they are dominated by pedestrians. (Jeff Speck and others seem to want cars in their shopping districts though).


Perhaps it is their tubular nature? Maybe urbanists hate tubes (and gerbils?). (In Atlanta, I have heard the skyways referred to as “Honky Tubes“, so there are clearly racial overtones). They are a bit minimalist, not the lush environment some may seek. But that is simply a design choice.

Perhaps it is elevation? But most urbanists think something like the Vancouver SkyTrain is a good thing, and support transit with grade separation so it can go faster. Why not people? [I fully understand not liking forcing pedestrians onto a pedestrian bridge as is common in China, so that walkers and cars are separated, but the pedestrian must climb and descend a staircase, but that is not the case here]

Perhaps it is ownership? But most American cities grew rapidly under an era of private transit (in the Twin Cities through 1969), so what is public vs. private space is also ambiguous. Streets are more clearly public, but if I let people pass through my buildings, seems a good thing for the public, no? If they were all publicly owned, would it be okay then?

The question  “what is a skyway?” cannot be easily resolved with words alone.  These Figures (1-3,5) from Vienna, Austria, Figure 4 from Stevenage, England illustrate the problem.  Figure 1 is what urbanists have in mind. But what about Figure 2, Figure 3, Figure 4, Figure 5. When does the cavity under a bridge become a tunnel?

Why are 1 and 2 bad but 3, 4, and 5 good?


2014-06-06 at 20-53-59
Skyway #1 Clearly a Skyway
2014-05-31 at 11-18-43
Skyway #2 A multistory Skyway, but still Glass
2014-06-04 at 18-53-15
Skyway #3 A multistory skyway with ancillary uses, or a building over a street
placed placed placed
Skyway #4 A house bridging a right-of-way path
Skyway #5 Clearly a Tunnel
Skyway #5 Clearly a Tunnel

London Bridge is another example, the other way about. It is a skyway of sorts, a bridge over a river with buildings on either side (though not at the entrance to the bridge).

Pedestrians without the bridge would need to swim, ferry, or walk on water. The pedestrian traffic attracted business, so it went from a typical bridge for movement (a skyway over the main transport artery in London) to a mostly-enclosed bridge with shops. Is this good or bad?

The Washington Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River is now truly multimodal, with a lower deck for cars, buses, and LRT, and an upper deck for pedestrians and bicyclists, with an [rotting, smelly, but warm] enclosed section for pedestrians. Is that deck a skyway? Obviously the aesthetics are no London Bridge, but is it inherently bad, or just poorly executed?

London Bridge a Computer Reconstruction (h/t @DrLindseyFitz )
Historic London Bridge
London Bridge another view (admittedly, it eventually fell down, and was replaced)
Washington Avenue Bridge (photo from Wikipedia)