Healthy Environment

Prioritize and support investments that reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and preserve and restore ecosystem health

Our transportation system should conserve, enhance and protect the natural environment that sustains public and environmental health and overall quality of life. Transportation infrastructure systems should interconnect with [green infrastructure] to provide a diverse range of benefits including improved public health and safety, mitigation of flood hazards, air and water quality protection and habitat improvement.

Transportation investments should protect air and water quality, reduce urban heat islands and energy consumption, promote climate resilience and preserve cultural and historic resources.

Supporting programs

These programs or initiatives can help us achieve our goals by directly advancing various plan strategies.

Performance measures


In the Kansas City region’s five-county air quality maintenance area, cars, trucks and other on-road vehicles collectively travel an estimated 53 million miles per day. As they travel, they generate a variety of air pollutants, including:

  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and nitrogen oxides (NOx), the two primary contributors to the region’s ground-level ozone problem.
  • Fine particulates that are associated with a variety of cardiovascular problems.
  • Hazardous pollutants, such as benzene.
  • Carbon dioxide, the principal greenhouse gas related to climate change.

Transportation planning and implementation strategies can have a significant impact on air quality — a critical issue as the region teeters on the brink of violating federal standards for ozone pollution. Because transportation-related sources are responsible for a significant portion of contaminants, planning a transportation system that makes better use of alternative modes, shortens commutes and reduces emissions from existing sources is critical to clean air in the metro.

Ultimately, reimagining the mixture of transportation choices could have a dramatic impact on the region’s air quality. Transit, bicycling and walking currently represent a very small part of region’s transportation choices, so there is a tremendous opportunity to expand modal choices and reap the clean air benefits.

Forward-thinking land use plans that encourage transit access, proximity and walkability are critical to encouraging alternative transportation uses.

The following map provides fine-grain detail on sensitive ecological lands in conjunction with the region’s activity centers. Additional data can be shown by turning off the ecological value layer and viewing layers such as forest conservation, restoration priorities, and land cover for the nine-county area. Community, transportation and land use plans at all scales can make use of this data to ensure integrated planning that helps maintain or improve a healthy environment well into the future.

Regional Ecological Value


COMPLETE AND GREEN STREETS — Design, build and maintain streets that are safe and convenient for all travelers, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, transit riders and freight, and that use natural systems to enhance stormwater management, mitigate heat islands, improve air and water quality to create desirable corridors connecting walkable activity centers. Complete streets information

ELECTRIC VEHICLES — Develop policies and programs to encourage the purchase of electric and no-emission vehicles for public and private fleets and personal vehicle ownership. Expand public access to electric vehicles through electric car-sharing programs discounted for low-income individuals. Encourage local governments to require all new residential and commercial buildings to provide charging facilities.

GREEN INFRASTRUCTURE — Implement recommendations in the regional Green Infrastructure Framework. Integrate environmental, land use and transportation planning to achieve multiple policy goals using natural and engineered ecosystem services within transportation programs and projects.

MOBILITY HUBS — Work with local governments to develop, fund and build mobility hubs in key activity centers where transit services connect with a variety of other mobility services so people can easily switch from bike to bus, rent a car or bike, hail a ride, meet a vanpool, or charge an electric vehicle.

MORE MODE CHOICES — Prioritize broader implementation of accessible mobility services, such as bicycle, scooter and car-sharing options, as well as microtransit services to supplement fixed-route transit with first/last mile solutions.

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION — Expand and enhance transit services along high-demand corridors as recommended in the Smart Moves Plan. Provide microtransit, or other on-call, curb-to-curb mobility services for lower-density areas throughout the region to provide an appropriate balance between ridership and coverage goals.

SYSTEM EFFICIENCY — Design, fund and implement projects and programs that improve and maintain reliable, efficient system operations, including transportation demand management strategies, transportation system management and operations, and intelligent transportation systems consistent with regional congestion management policies.

TRAILS AND BIKEWAYS — Implement the MetroGreen system with continued planning support as needed, in coordination with the Regional Bikeway Plan. This includes connected trails, greenways and the network of on- and off-road facilities. Develop this system with an increased emphasis on natural resource conservation and restoration of connected stream and riparian corridors.

URBAN HEAT ISLANDS — Reduce the amount of heat-absorbing infrastructure within the transportation system through the use of emerging technologies and best practices as well as the incorporation of tree canopy coverage into project design and construction. To the extent practicable, use transportation rights of way to expand urban tree canopy and native landscape coverage, especially in areas with vulnerable populations.

WEATHER EVENTS — Improve the operational response to weather events to ensure public safety and mobility. Employ effective technologies that monitor the integrity of transportation infrastructure and relay real-time data to ensure responsiveness to events and overall mobility for all.

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