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Let’s Talk: The Future of Transportation

As a civil engineer, the idea of getting into the transportation world and becoming a roadway designer or anything of this kind was in the top of my head for a lot of time, and since part of my major was completed in Florida, it just made sense. Now I’m far from wanting to be in transportation but as an “urbanist” I do like to use the tools in my brain to think about the future of cities, mobility wise.

A change will come to the transportation industry, that’s a fact. What is not as clear but I do have some pretty strong ideas. There’s 4 main elements that will have a great impact on this:

  1. The increase in walkability in cities

  2. The push for better and more sustainable transportation networks

  3. The increase of Transit-oriented developments (TODs)

  4. The inevitability of driverless cars

Some people say that the future of the profession is dark and that highway design is dead; I disagree, you see it’s not that highways won’t be built any more, it’s that their use will change. Capacity won’t be as important, in the sense that creating highways as big as possible won’t be as important as creating them with state of the art technology (through ITSs) to handle the driverless cars, and since efficiency will be heavily increased, traffic will need less space to work properly. Also, the inner-city roads will stop being relevant as walkability improves, sustainable transportation systems get better and TODs like buildings without parking lots get more popular, pushing the heavy infrastructure to the outside of the urban cores and reducing the pavement-land ratio so it can be used for things that can actually improve the quality of life of citizens.

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