Before ISTEA, transportation officials often claimed that "highways don't affect land use." Yet common folks knew the truth was just the opposite: that highways do affect land use. Highway development is an integral part of low-density sprawl, like that which is taking over much of Montana, especially in the Western part of the state.
While few would deny the importance of highways, especially in a somewhat sparsely-settled state like Montana, many are coming to realize that highway projects---like that planned for Highway 93 between Hamilton and Polson---have far reaching effects and can destroy communities and decimate rural lands. Land use and transportation decisions must go hand-in-hand.
ISTEA forced planners to recognize the link between land use and transportation and to take it into account in their work. For example, ISTEA says:
It depends who wins the battle in Congress. Some want to strengthen the tie between land use and transportation so that the needs of communities come before the needs of speculators. Others do not.
ISTEA2 will maintain the connection between land use and transportation. In fact, ISTEA2 proposes to create a new Land Use and Transportation Pilot Program that would help communities align their land use and transportation priorities and reduce the need for expensive new roads.
Is there any wonder that groups like the Conservation Law Foundation, the Colorado Environmental Council, the Environmental Defense Fund, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation support the ISTEA2 platform?
|Opposition comes from highway interests|
To many in the highway lobby, linking land use and transportation is an awful idea. They prefer to ignore the impacts that highway projects have on land use---the disappearance of farm land and wild lands and the damage done to communities.
|Other Proposals||Other proposed bills would "streamline the planning process" and shift the emphasis almost exclusively to highway building. For example, most other proposals include an emphasis on massive funding for the National Highway System and reduced emphasis on local needs is an indication of where they stand on land use issues.|