New Report on Open Space and Transportation Policy

WASHINGTON, D.C., 10/29/02 – The Trust for Public Land (TPL), a national conservation organization, today released a report that calls for open space protection in pending federal legislation to fund highway construction.

Taking the High Road: Protecting Open Space Along America’s Highways, recommends that the reauthorization of the federal transportation bill encourages open space preservation. The report provides important information to people who want to be involved in shaping new federal highway legislation, which Congress will consider next year.

The major recommendation is that federal policies have a process for mitigating the loss of open space that results from highway construction, including the impacts of development that accompany new roads.

“In the past, we have seen that while federal funds are used to build highways, it is local communities that must cope with problems that result, such as conflicts in land use policy, sprawl, and the loss of open space,” says Alan Front, TPL’s Senior Vice President. “The loss of open space is a critical problem, because intense growth and development have outpaced communities’ ability to meet their needs for open space.”

The report contains several case studies where communities successfully merge local transportation needs with open space and wildlife habitat protection. For example, in Washington state, a coalition of governments, civic leaders, and environmental group assembled private and public sources of funds, including federal highway mitigation monies, to create the Mountains to Sound Greenway, a scenic and recreational corridor along Interstate 90. And in Delaware, highway planners are integrating open space into existing transportation corridors.

The report also recommends that federal transportation policy:

  • Retain and improve the Transportation Enhancements Program,
  • Expand the Transportation and Community and System Preservation Program,
  • Consider open space and habitat protection in the transportation planning process,

Taking the High Road: Protecting Open Space Along America’s Highways was funded through a grant from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

The Trust for Public Land, established in 1972, specializes in conservation real estate, applying its expertise in negotiations, public finance, and law, to protect land for people to enjoy as parks, greenways, community gardens, urban playgrounds, and wilderness. Across the nation, TPL has helped protect more than 1.4 million acres. For more information, visit TPL on the web at