Pathway Options to 2050

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To better understand how the land use and transportation decisions we make today will affect the future and to help identify strategies that can remain durable across a range of futures despite changing and disruptive uncertainties, SACOG is undertaking a scenario planning effort, referred to as Pathways, as part of the process for the 2024 Blueprint. Pathways will provide the analysis and metrics that will serve as a learning tool for unpacking the many complex and intersecting issues facing the region over the next three decades around housing and land use, transportation management, regional growth, environmental resources, economic development, systemic racial disparities, and climate change and resilience. The three Pathways described below are intended to allow for comparison of a wide range of futures, focusing primarily on how land use pattern and transportation system investments/programs interact to contribute to or detract from the Triple Bottom Line goals endorsed by the SACOG board in the Policy Framework for the 2024 Blueprint.

The three Pathways described below are intended to allow for comparison of a wide range of futures, focusing primarily on how land use pattern and transportation system investments/programs interact to contribute to or detract from the Triple Bottom Line goals endorsed by the SACOG board in the Policy Framework for the 2024 Blueprint. Each of the pathways will utilize the population, housing, and employment growth projections the SACOG board adopted in February as part of the Policy Framework. SACOG will stress test each pathway to learn how emerging technologies and policy decisions might affect the outcomes of each pathway. These stress tests will help the board have better information about how things like vehicle technologies, roadway pricing strategies, and advances in next generation transit services might affect outcomes across a range of future conditions.

Pathway 1: Outward Expansion

This pathway builds on the land use trends over the last two decades and expands the footprint of the region outwards through significant lower density growth in developing communities and rural residential areas. It will provide the most large lot single-family and rural residential housing and the least amount of infill growth. The Outward Expansion pathway will provide more emphasis on adding roadway capacity to meet mobility needs. Due to this pathway’s more dispersed land use pattern, transit services will focus on geographic coverage rather than frequency of service, and bicycle and pedestrian facilities will focus more on connecting developing communities to existing networks.

Pathway 2: Compact Growth and Phased Expansion

This pathway will use the key land use metrics from the 2020 MTP/SCS to create a land use forecast and will be updated with current conditions. In the 2020 MTP/SCS, roughly 65 percent of new housing and 85 percent of new jobs were in infill areas and roughly 73 percent of new homes were either small lot single-family or attached products. This pathway will maintain the transportation project list from the 2020 MTP/SCS but will include updates based on completed or modified projects in capital improvement programs or planning efforts. New roadways or transportation investments will be included where the growth pattern has shifted. Transit service in this pathway will focus on increasing vehicle service hours for bus and rail projects.

Pathway 3: Inward Expansion

This pathway will explore a future in which most of the future growth occurs in infill areas such as centers and corridors and established communities. This pathway is intended to explore the performance implications of a future that significantly departs from today’s land use trends. This pathway provides the most new small lot and attached housing and growth in infill areas would consist of already approved projects, vacant lots, and significant redevelopment of underutilized commercial corridors oriented around the transportation investments. In this pathway investments in capacity projects will only be used to address extreme bottle necks and congestion. To meet the region’s mobility needs, this pathway will focus on transit service in corridors with sufficient density and mix of uses needed to generate sufficient ridership to justify higher frequency transit, and fully connect existing communities through an integrated bike and trail network to reach essential destinations within communities.