Case Study – U.S. 40 Carbon Neutral Corridor

Maryland Department of Transportation

Objective

Develop a comprehensive corridor vision for the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) that integrates energy efficiency and emission reduction strategies from land use, land conservation, multimodal transportation, energy supply, and energy consumption to significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from the corridor across all emission sectors. The U.S. 40 Carbon Neutral Corridor project was conceptualized to support the objective of creating an example geographic area focused feasible plan to help Maryland improve air and water quality and significantly reduce its carbon footprint by 2035, and to achieve carbon neutrality in the long-term. The project, which considers both economic and environmental factors, will help Maryland to achieve a more sustainable future.

Our Approach

Cambridge Systematics assisted MDOT and its Interagency Steering Committee in:

  • Examining 13 potential study corridors across Maryland and selecting U.S. 40 as the best study candidate;
  • Investigating the potential benefits of three corridor scenarios focused on: 1) Transportation Activity, Efficiency, and Emissions, 2) Land Use and Development, and 3) Energy Consumption, Energy Supply, Land Conservation, and Sequestration;
  • Devising a single comprehensive corridor scenario that maximizes GHG reduction by integrating the most effective strategies from the initial three scenarios; and
  • Identifying the potential benefits of implementing the Carbon Neutral Corridor plan.

Project Results

The project led to key findings with regard to the optimal strategies and their relationships for achieving significant and sustainable GHG emission reductions. MDOT and the Interagency Steering Committee discovered that taking a full multi-sector approach to implementing programs that target the nexus between transportation, land use and development, and housing, would achieve the most significant carbon benefits. The organization of strategies in the U.S. 40 comprehensive corridor scenario included:

  • Low carbon land use and development strategies such as transit oriented and town center development, diversity of housing types and energy efficiency options, programs to support business and residential energy efficiency, and conservation and protection of corridor agricultural and natural land uses;
  • Multimodal and energy efficient transportation strategies such as new transit capacity and enhanced transit level-of-service in town centers, connected bike and pedestrian networks, commuter incentives through travel demand management programs, roadway and congestion management technologies, and incentives to support the purchase and use of alternative fuel vehicle and electric vehicle technologies;
  • Energy supply strategies such as incentives and programs for deployment and increased use of renewable energy sources,  deployment of alternative fueling and electric vehicle charging stations, and generating energy from wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal processes; and
  • Land management and restoration strategies such as expanding programs to assist landowners in maximizing carbon sequestration potential from forests, wetlands, and agriculture.

This pilot project helped MDOT to acknowledge the positive impacts that the proposed reduction strategies – including vehicle technology and fuel advancements, renewable energy sources, and green building standards and retrofit programs – could have on environmental and quality of life measures. Once implemented, this project could help to reduce GHG emissions by up to 43 percent by 2035. MDOT and the Interagency Steering Committee also focused attention on the annual household cost savings from implementing the corridor scenarios. Cambridge Systematics estimated that the combination of transportation and land use strategies can reduce average annual household transportation costs up to $400 while household energy supply and consumption strategies can reduce annual household energy costs up to $800.

View the U.S. Carbon Neutral Corridor report here.