An improved methodology for multi-criteria assessment of highway sustainability
Ramani, Tara Lakshmi
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The concept of sustainability has been widely discussed in relation to human activity and scientific development in recent times. There is an increased awareness of the current and future ramifications of people?s everyday activities on the environment, and sustainable development aims to mitigate these impacts, as well as promote social equity and economic efficiency. A majority of research concerned with transportation sustainability addresses it at the policy-planning level, though there have been recent attempts at quantitatively evaluating it. These evaluations are mostly based on multicriteria decision making processes using performance measures. However, the methods and the performance measures developed are often not geared toward being practically implemented within a transportation agency?s regular planning activities. This research effort seeks to improve upon existing sustainability evaluation processes for highways by proposing a methodology that addresses sustainability within the regular transportation planning paradigm, rather than as a separate concern. A more scientific approach to the scaling of various performance measures, as well as the evaluation of current and future planning scenarios on a common basis provides for an improved multi-criteria evaluation method. A case study was conducted using the proposed methodology for a section of US Highway 281 in San Antonio, Texas. The evaluation model developed in this study provides the basis for further research into applying decision-making processes to improve transportation sustainability by addressing some of the inherent drawbacks of existing research on sustainability evaluation.