SMARTRAQ (Strategies for Metropolitan Atlanta’s Regional Transportation and Air Quality) is a Georgia Tech research project whose goal is to provide a framework for assessing which combinations of land use and transportation investment policies have the greatest potential to reduce the level of auto dependence while promoting the economic and environmental health of the Atlanta metropolitan region. The project was initiated by Georgia Department of Transportation and is supported through a partnership between: transportation interests (Georgia Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Georgia Regional Transportation Authority, Atlanta Regional Commission); environmental interests (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Turner Foundation); public health interests (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Georgia Division of Public Health); and land and economic development interests (Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce and Urban Land Institute – Atlanta DistrictOffice).


· Assess how land use relates with travel choice, vehicle emissions, and physical activity

· Assist developers, lending institutions, and local government officials in their efforts to overcome barriers to implementing environmentally sound transportation and development solutions

· Identify, where possible, potential incentives that will encourage local governments to adopt land use strategies that support reduced vehicle emissions and congestion through the programming of transportation investments in designated centers and growth management policies

History and Need for the Project

The Atlanta Metropolitan Region has experienced explosive growth in recent years. This growth has come in the form of increased population and land area converted to urban uses. It has been estimated that the Atlanta Region grew from approximately 68 miles north to south in 1990 to 121 miles in 1997. The Atlanta Region is among the lowest in average population and employment density in the nation. This research project explains that the distances between where people live, work, shop, and recreate are very high when compared with national averages. It is argued that the high dispersion of development and lack of intermixing of uses in the Atlanta region has resulted in one of the highest vehicles miles traveled (VMT) per capita in the U.S., a distance of more than 32 miles per day in 1999. As a result, Atlantans in the thirteen county study area travel, on average, 115 million miles a day, a distance greater than from the sun to the earth.

Study Area

The study area includes 13 counties in metropolitan Atlanta that are currently in non-attainment for ozone: Cherokee, Clayton, Cobb, Coweta, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, Paulding, and Rockdale

Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Original Grant

The original SMARTRAQ grant proposal for $1.7 million was funded by the Georgia Department of Transportation and Federal Highway Administration with additional support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Turner Foundation. This funded scope of work is entitled, “Integrating Travel Behavior and Urban Form Data to Address Transportation and Air Quality Problems in Atlanta” — we shortened this to SMARTRAQ (Strategies for Metropolitan Atlanta’s Regional Transportation and Air Quality). This original scope of work was amended to include funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to assess the physical activity and public health benefits of non-motorized travel.

GRTA Scope of Work

This is the second SMARTRAQ grant proposal for $2.4 million funded by the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority entitled “Implementing Transit Oriented Development in the Atlanta Region: Defining the Market, Creating Project Level Evaluation Tools, and Developing Area Specific Pilots.”


SMARTRAQ final summary report (January 2007): summarizes the SMARTRAQ research program, its results, and its application to policy decisions for the Atlanta region. By David Goldberg, Barbara McCann, Lawrence Frank, Jim Chapman and Sarah Kavage. 60 pp.

SMARTRAQ full final technical report (April 2004): “Integrating Travel Behavior and Urban Form Data to Address Transportation and Air Quality Problems In Atlanta.” By Jim Chapman and Lawrence Frank. 304 pp.

Results of Health and Physical Activity Questionnaire (March 2004): summarizes the design and results of the SMARTRAQ activity-based household travel survey. By Jim Chapman and Lawrence Frank. 78 pp.

Before and After Study: Livable Centers Initiative (March 2004): describes analysis of three livable center sites in Atlanta with business-as-usual and coordinated land use-transportation planning alternatives. By Jim Chapman and Lawrence Frank. 142 pp.

Performance Measures for Regional Monitoring (March 2004). describes performance measures across built environment, behavior, environmental quality, and quality of life outcomes. By Lawrence Frank, Jim Chapman, Sarah McMillian, and Ann Carpenter. 176 pp.

Transportation and Land Use Preferences and Atlanta Residents’ Neighborhood Choices (March 2004): presents relationships between urban form, travel and physical activity behavior, and neighborhood preferences. By Lawrence Frank and Jim Chapman. 135 pp.

Analysis of Travel Patterns of Traditionally Underserved Populations (November 2003): describes methods and results of SMARTRAQ’s focused survey recruitment of low-income and minority households. By Jim Chapman and Lawrence Frank. 147 pp.


Frank, L.D., Schmid, T.L., Sallis, J.F., Chapman, J.E., & Saelens, B.E. (2005). “Linking objectively measured physical activity with objectively measured urban form: Findings from SMARTRAQ”. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 28 (2S2): 117-125.

Frank, L.D., Andresen, M.A., & Schmid, T.L. (2004). “Obesity relationships with community design, physical activity, and time spent in cars”. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 27 (2): 87-96.

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