Thursday, September 17, 2015

The reverse approach to transit: TOD first

In the face of all the hand-wringing about the loss of the $3 billion Baltimore Red Line I have proposed a few times to take a reverse approach and do TOD first for a better chance to get good transit later. A few plans that were developed as part of the Red Line planning process but that were not funded for realization by the Red Line budget anyway, could be built now regardless, some are parking lots, but much would be TOD. So many community working groups (SAACs) planned better communities around their station areas: These visions and plans should not be orphaned, forgotten and neglected. Instead, Baltimore City and Baltimore County should double up, adopt these community plans from Security Square Mall to Highlandtown/Greektown and make them a reality!

That this reverse approach to transit is not just a pipe-dream is demonstrated with the Beltline in Atlanta:

Atlanta Advances TOD Planning

TOD advances in Atlanta

MARTA and the Atlanta Beltline have been chosen to receive federal grants to help spur denser development around future transit lines, the Federal Transit Administration announced Tuesday. MARTA was awarded $1.6 million, while the Beltline received $500,000 as part of a pilot program of the FTA to encourage transit oriented development and infill in under utilized areas.

The money must be used to plan and promote future development of businesses and homes along proposed transit lines - the kind of development that will attract built-in customers for those transit lines one day. (Think high-rise office buildings, condos and apartment towers.)

Transit-oriented development or "transit supportive development" is helpful in obtaining future FTA grants, because it demonstrates that the new trains or streetcars would be able to draw riders, said Janide Sidifall, a senior project manager for MARTA.  Story

Here all about Atlanta and the Beltline at our upcoming TOD Conference. Atlanta Beltline's CEO Paul Morris will be speaking at the event!  More
Baltimore's needs persist just as much in community investment as they in transit. It was envisioned to use $3 billion transit money to leverage community investment. With that money gone, though, the community needs remain in Edmondson Village, in Rosemont, in West Baltimore, in Harlem Park and in East Baltimore where Eastern Avenue does more to separate Highlandtown from Greektown than to connect it.
West Baltimore TOD plan.
With MARC, transit is already there!

 The SAAC plans were developed over a 18 month inclusive process by hundreds of citizens and stakeholders with participation of city and county agencies. What would be more obvious than to let this work come to fruition? Instead of a rail station we will have to imagine enhanced bus stations and stops, maybe some transit hubs, intermediate steps in transit maybe, but the developed places in the community would be permanent. 

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA
see also these more detailed articles about possible pre-Redline TOD (here and here)

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