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Published on January 11th, 2017 | by James Ayre


FTA & Smart Growth America Announce 5 Communities Selected For TOD Assistance

January 11th, 2017 by  

The US Federal Transit Administration and Smart Growth America have announced the 5 communities selected to receive technical assistance as part of the National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative. They are: Birmingham, AL; Omaha, NE; Albuquerque, NM; Charlotte, NC; Tacoma, WA.

To explain: the National Public Transportation/Transit-Oriented Development Technical Assistance Initiative is a 4-year program launched by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to support communities around the US working to create “equitable, compact, mixed-use development” along public transit corridors or near stations. The project emphasis is apparently on “economically disadvantaged areas.”

“By sharing expertise in transit-oriented development, we are helping create the kind of growth that’s right for each community while leveraging our investments in transit,” stated Carolyn Flowers, FTA Acting Administrator. “It’s mutually supportive: the transit service provides transportation for those who live and work there, while equitable TOD can boost transit ridership. Our initiative helps communities to build their expertise in planning TOD to create stronger neighborhoods.”

This sounds great in theory, but what do communities actually need (and get) to “build their expertise in planning TOD to create stronger neighborhoods?” Here’s a little more on that: “5 communities have been selected for technical assistance during the second round of this project. The assistance will help communities plan for and manage economic development near transit through effective zoning and land use, as well as provide expert advice on preserving affordable housing and securing advantageous commercial development, among other opportunities.”

This news follows an early 2016 announcement about FTA and Smart Growth America selecting 9 communities to receive short-term + long-term technical assistance via the first round of the program. Those communities and more information about them directly from Smart Growth America were:

  • Stamford, CT, which is renovating the Stamford Intermodal Transportation Center Stamford, just south of the city’s downtown and just north of its long-struggling waterfront where a multibillion-dollar transit-oriented development (TOD) transformation is already underway. The city is working to bring together public agencies, businesses, and community groups with interest in the project and identify strategies for funding and public private partnerships to implement the vision.
  • Honolulu, HI, which is supporting inclusive development around eight station areas on the Honolulu Rail Transit Project, a 20-mile, 21-station elevated, light metro system currently under construction. The city is working to better support equitable mixed-use development and affordable rental housing along the line; provide support for existing small businesses; establish a community land trust, land acquisition fund, and TOD fund; develop new models for mixed-use spaces; and gain policy advice and recommendations for implementation.
  • Moline, IL, which is building a multimodal rail hub to help commuters get between Quad Cities and Chicago more easily and efficiently. One particular focus of the project is to make sure the hub serves residents of the low-to-moderate income neighborhood around the station.
  • Louisville, KY and its Transforming Dixie Highway project, a 15-mile, $29 million project that will introduce the first bus rapid transit (BRT) system in the Louisville area. The line will connect downtown, the U.S. Army base at nearby Fort Knox, and major nodes anchored by the YMCA, shopping destinations, and a waterfront park. The city is currently working to more clearly define the TOD nodes and analyze market conditions; develop educational and public engagement plans to bring land owners and developers together; develop strategies and tools for land assembly, financing and incentivizing economic development; identify barriers and solutions to maximize TOD around BRT stations; and identify and create development incentives and/or policies for affordable housing.
  • Kansas City, MO, which is currently planning the Prospect MAX BRT corridor that will connect downtown to south Kansas City and will run through several low-income neighborhoods along the way. The city is currently working to align transit and land­ use decisions; get developers interested in investing in the corridor; understand how to effectively implement the city’s pending TOD policy; and build capacity and involve the community as Prospect MAX moves forward.
  • Oklahoma City, OK, which is working to restore the historic Santa Fe station transit hub and transform it into a regional transit center with offices and retail shops, an expanded Amtrak station, bus depot, and hub for a streetcar, light rail, and commuter rail.
  • San Antonio, TX, which opened Centro Plaza — a transit plaza the size of a full city block in the near west side of downtown — earlier this year. The plaza serves the heart of the city’s original Mexican-American population, and also serves some of the lowest median-income populations in the region. There are many public housing development sites located in these neighborhoods and the city is working to examine TOD opportunities around Centro Plaza, address the connections between many publicly owned properties in the area, and provide an opportunity to connect some of the most culturally rich, and economically poor neighborhoods within downtown.
  • Richmond, VA, which is working to encourage development along a planned 7.6-mile BRT line. The “Pulse” BRT project received a $24.9 million TIGER grant in 2014 and last year, Richmond was named a LadderSTEP city, part of USDOT’s initiative that focuses on revitalization as part of future transportation projects.
  • Lynnwood, WA, a suburb of Seattle, which is working to attract development along a planned extension of the Lynnwood Link light rail line. Lynnwood leaders want to plan for a dense, mixed-use community with affordable options for home buyers and renters, as well as ways to attract new businesses to complement local commercial uses.

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About the Author

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.

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