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The Planet

Transportation Planning

Getting people from place to place in sprawl-choked communities is costing us dearly. Once the concern of a few big cities, massive traffic jams have become commonplace across the country. The average American driver spends 443 hours every year -- that's 55 eight-hour work days, or 11 weeks of work -- behind the wheel.

And all that driving means more air pollution. Cars and trucks are among the largest sources of smog and cancer-causing pollution in America, spewing out 12 pounds of cancer chemicals annually for every person in America.

States that are doing the best job challenging sprawl are the ones that recognize the connections between sprawl and transportation. Sprawl spreads out everything, making trips longer and driving mandatory. Studies show that residents of sprawling communities drive three to four times as much as those living in better-planned communities.

Adding new lanes and building new roads just makes the problem worse. New highways are the number one cause of sprawl, according to American Farmland Trust. Build them, and the traffic will come. They may give short-term relief, but long term they just encourage more sprawl.

There are three measures we used to determine a state's performance in this category: (1) how much money states are spending per person in their urban areas on transportation choices like commuter trains, bus service, light rail and even walking and bike paths; (2) how well states are taking care of the road systems they already have; and (3) how much the mileage-driven-per-person increased between 1992 and 1997.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island has maintained and expanded its rail, ferry and bus systems in the face of federal funding cuts, committed real money to make walking and cycling safer and improved citizen access to the transportation-planning process.

Rhode Island has pursued a "multi-modal" approach to transportation planning -- giving citizens the choice to hop from a train to a bus, or from a bus to a bike, and making it easier to get around without a car.

State Ranking

  1. Rhode Island
  2. New Jersey
  3. Hawaii
  4. Washington
  5. California
  6. Oregon
  7. Vermont
  8. Montana
  9. Illinois
  10. New York
  11. South Dakota
  12. Maryland
  13. Pennsylvania
  14. Michigan
  15. Idaho
  16. Kansas
  17. Minnesota
  18. Alaska
  19. Massachusetts
  20. Maine
  21. Louisiana
  22. Ohio
  23. New Hampshire
  24. Georgia
  25. Arizona
  26. Colorado
  27. Wisconsin
  28. Connecticut
  29. Florida
  30. Virginia
  31. Texas
  32. Indiana
  33. North Dakota
  34. Delaware
  35. Missouri
  36. Wyoming
  37. West Virginia
  38. Utah
  39. Nevada
  40. Iowa
  41. Kentucky
  42. New Mexico
  43. Nebraska
  44. North Carolina
  45. South Carolina
  46. Tennessee
  47. Alabama
  48. Oklahoma
  49. Mississippi
  50. Arkansas


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