Pennsylvania is embarking on a new statewide effort to integrate transportation, land use and economic development activities in a way that not only would lower the cost of road, housing, and business construction but also help preserve the environment.
"What we're trying to do is plan better on the front end of transportation and development projects so we can bring them to fruition faster, lower their cost, and increase environmental sensitivity," said Kurt Knaus, press secretary for the state's Department of Environmental Protection.
Knaus told FleetOwner that Governor Edward Rendell (D) wants to move away from the "fractured" planning processes of the past -- especially for road construction -- so the state can improve transportation infrastructure and foster economic growth while saving "green space."
The initial step in the strategy was taken this week as the first "Conference on Transportation and Land Use for Economic Development" got underway in Harrisburg, PA. Local government representatives, private industry stakeholders and state officials gathered to start mapping how to better coordinate development efforts -- efforts that could benefit trucking companies in a variety of ways over the long haul.
"Getting roads built faster and at a lower cost is one benefit," Knaus said. Another is the construction of businesses, such as trucking terminals and warehouses. "In the past, a business might find a site next a road it wants to develop, but it had to go through an environmental permit process and meet other requirements," he explained.
"Under the new strategy, we'd be able to alert companies to better roadside location where permits are already in place,” Knaus continued. “In the long run, this strategy will help state and local governments target their resources better and more efficiently—while lowering costs for businesses."