Defining Rural Livability through Performance Indicators

Focus Area



Air Quality, Environmental Process






1-2 years

Research Idea Scope

The transportation industry is experiencing a paradigm shift to more livability centric goals, as evidenced by new policy directions at the federal level and the strong interest in livability-enhancing projects under the recent series of grants programs (i.e. USDOT, EPA, and HUD). While urban livability indicators are increasingly commonplace and gaining acceptance in the industry, there is a notable lack of comparable indicators that are appropriate for rural communities. The development of rural livability indicators will not only aid in the definition of rural livability but will also inform the project planning and development process to better meet the needs of rural communities. As the transportation industry shifts toward a greater focus on livability, it is imperative that agencies and practitioners have livability indicators appropriate for a variety of rural contexts so that transportation projects and programs promote livability principles for rural as well as urban communities.

The objective of this research is to identify and develop rural livability indicators that can be consistently applied to analyze projects across a range of rural typologies. Project activities may include literature review, focus groups, surveys, and careful analysis of existing databases of transportation analysis tools.

Urgency and Payoff

The proposed research has numerous benefits, both in the short and long term. The development of rural livability indicators will be useful to practitioners and researchers alike, and may be used in planning and project development as well as post-project evaluation. A robust set of indicators can lead to a better understanding of the rural context as it pertains to transportation projects, allowing for the design and selection of projects that will more effectively deliver livable outcomes to rural areas. A set of livability indicators tailored to the rural context can also improve the quality of life of residents in areas where measures derived from smart growth or New Urbanist principles may be infeasible.

Suggested By

Leigh Lane, Ann Hartell, Ted Mansfield, Center for Transportation and the Environment at NCSU

[email protected]