The Environmental Costs of Automobile-Centric Transportation Planning

Date of Award


Document Type

Capstone Project


Environmental Policy & Mgmt

Degree Name

Master of Applied Science


Environmental Policy & Mgmt


Steven Bissell


Biodiversity; Ecosystem services; Environmental costs; Habitat fragmentation; Human health; Land use; Mass transit; Sprawl; Transportation


Since the passage of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, the automobile has become the primary form of transportation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. As the rate of motor vehicle use continues to rise faster than population growth, the benefits of the current transportation system are coming at a price that rivals annual household expenditures for housing. Furthermore, the automobile-centric transportation system incurs environmental costs. Carbon dioxide emissions, motor fuel use, health care costs for chronic illness, and the loss and impairment of natural resources due to sprawling development, continue to escalate. This project analyzes the environmental costs associated with automobile-centric planning for the urbanized area of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and compares these costs to those of alternative transportation modes.

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