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Network Rightsizing for Growing MPOs, Counties, & Cities

A national breakthrough
for planning.

By Mike Brown, PE, AICP

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Plan Ahead Cut Short

From 1960 to 2050, America has now planned 90-years of transportation.  So why are metro regions so congested? Largely because that 90-years was planned 20-30-years at a time.  We often under-estimate growth at the "horizon year," and we completely ignore post-horizon growth!  We simply don’t “Plan Ahead” far enough!   All growing regions would do well to “begin with the end in mind.”   How?  Create a multimodal “Master Architecture” that will work well at build-out, even if that may be REALLY far away.  Then select projects for your 30-year fiscally constrained plan from your preservation architecture. 

Urban Innovators developed the Network Rightsizing approach that was recently published in the Transportation Research Board's NCHRP 917 guidebook on rightsizing.  The approach was featured, along with seven rightsizing strategies, in Planning Magazine


This page shows the basic approach, along with key benefits.  Contact us.  We'll assess your situation and help you decide which parts you can do easily vs which you could use help with.  It's generally easy, and as you'll see from these stories, it pays off big!

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In the title graphic, Salt Lake County wanted to compare what they actually have with what they could have had, (and still can have in some places).  Notice the worst congestion is in areas are missing both regional roads and local collectors.​ This graphic has been widely used across Utah to reveal to built-out communities why they have congestion, and to motivate a hunt for connectivity opportunities.  It also encourage emerging communities to adopt a tighter grid before they get in trouble.

Architecture for Utah County

For Utah County, just south of Salt Lake, the MPO asked us to create a similar grid for them.  The fishnet overlay vs today stunned community leaders with how under-prepared they were for growth. 


The MPO adopted this architecture into their 2050 plan, and selected phased projects from it. We created a best-fit grid, given existing development and environmentally sensitive areas, and the MPO reports that nearly all communities are modifying their own plans to preserve these corridors, even if there is a good chance they won't be constructed until after 2050.

This may prove to be the most significant planning achievement in this county's history.

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