Research by Topic

Land Use & Transportation

Regional Growth in the Portland Metro 1990-2000

Map of Portland Exurban growth 1990-2000

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The Promise of Permeable Pavement

Center for Neighborhood Technology, flickr

Permeable pavement is one of the most promising green solutions that can help reduce and clean up polluted stormwater runoff. Like conventional pavement, it can be made of asphalt or concrete that’s either poured in place or sold as pavers, and it can be
used in a variety of settings, including on parking lots, low-traffic roadways, driveways, and sidewalks. Read more »

Making Sustainability Legal

Outdated Rules that Stop Affordable, Green Solutions

By Patrick Barber, with permission.

Some of the most innovative solutions for building thriving and sustainable communities in the Northwest are, at present, simply illegal. Current rules make it difficult to share bikes, find a cab, take toddlers on the bus, and hang a clothesline. Read more »

Transfer of Development Rights

A tool for reducing climate-warming emissions.


For years, local governments have used Transfer of Development Rights (TDR) programs to help channel urban growth away from farmland, forests, and open space. But new evidence suggests that, when used carefully, TDR programs can also help local governments achieve meaningful reductions in local greenhouse gas emissions. Read more »

Toll Avoidance and Transportation Funding

Official estimates frequently overestimate traffic and revenue for toll roads.

As the Northwest prepares major highway projects–the replacement I-5 bridge of the Columbia River, the replacement SR 520 bridge across Lake Washington, and Seattle’s deep-bore tunnel–tolling has an increasingly significant role to play in project financing. Yet a review of the literature shows that when it comes to predicting traffic volumes and revenue from newly-tolled roads, official projections are often overly-optimistic. This is especially true of highways with un-tolled alternative routes nearby. Read more »

Peak Gas?

NW Gas Consumption Stalled in 1999

Peak Gas: NW Gas Consumption Stalled in 1999

Gasoline consumption in Oregon and Washington increased slightly in 2010, and sales held steady in the first part of 2011. But minor year-to-year fluctuations mask a more important trend: despite steady increases in population, volatile gas prices, and both surges and lulls in the region’s economy, gasoline use has remained essentially flat since 1999. Read more »

Gasoline Consumption in the Northwest: Reports and Graphs

High gasoline prices, economic jitters, and cultural changes have dampened the Northwest’s appetite for energy—and specifically for gasoline—in the past decade. Still, Cascadians are profligate energy consumers, and in general, the region’s energy use has been stuck in high gear. Read more »

We Have Fewer Cabs, and We Pay More


Northwest cities heavily regulate the city’s taxi markets—driving up the worth of taxi “medallions”, while capping the number of taxis allowed to operate. The result? Taxis are more expensive and harder to find. View graphic »

The Greenhouse Gas Impact of Exporting Coal from the West Coast

A new white paper by economist and University of Montana professor Tom Power shows proposed coal exports from terminals in Washington State would not only cause China to burn more coal, but set back advances in clean energy and efficiency for 30 to 50 years. Read more »

Should We Trust WSDOT Traffic Projections?

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WSDOT continues to predict that traffic volumes on SR 520 across Lake Washington will continue to rise, despite a 14 year trend of traffic reductions. View graphic »