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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Origins of Metropolitan Transportation Planning in Travel Demand Forecasting, 1944-1962

  • Author(s): Deutsch, Cheryl
  • Advisor(s): Wachs, Martin
  • et al.

Responding to cities' calls for aid in combating traffic congestion and urban decline, the 1956 Federal-Aid Highway Act and its Highway Trust Fund endowment paved the way for Interstate highways into American cities. As president of the American Municipal Association, Nashville's mayor, Ben West, led the charge for such funds to pay for comprehensive urban planning on a metropolitan scale. As chairman of the National Committee on Urban Transportation, he oversaw unprecedented efforts to promote and disseminate innovation in transportation planning methods - methods that Congress made mandatory for highway funds after 1962 and that remain important today. Based on archival research and interviews with transportation planners of the era, this thesis reconstructs the social, political, intellectual, and technological context out of which metropolitan transportation planning emerged in the 1950s. In doing so, it examines the four-step method of travel demand forecasting as a product of social and municipal reform.

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