Strategic development of transport systems: a study of the physical constraints on planning processes
Investment in transport infrastructure can be highly sensitive to uncertainty. The scale and lead time of strategic transport programmes are such that they require continuing policy support and accurate forecasting. Delay, cost escalation and abandonment of projects often result if these conditions are not present. In Part One the physical characteristics of infrastructure are identified as a major constraint on planning processes. The extent to which strategies and techniques acknowledge these constraints is examined. A simple simulation model is developed to evaluate the effects on system development of variations in the scale and lead time of investments. In Part Two, two case studies of strategic infrastructure investment are analysed. The absence of a policy consensus for airport location was an important factor in the delayed resolution of the Third London Airport issue. In London itself, the traffic and environmental effects of major highway investment ultimately resulted in the abandonment of plans to construct urban motorways. In both cases, the infrastructure implications of alternative strategies are reviewed with reference to the problems of uncertainty. In conclusion, the scale of infrastructure investment is considered the most important of the constraints on the processes of transport planning. Adequate appraisal of such constraints may best be achieved by evaluation more closely aligned to policy objectives.