Growing Economy, Shrinking Emissions: A Transit-Oriented Future for Connecticut's Capital Region illustrates a strategy for growth in Greater Hartford that expands housing and transit options while reducing our transportation-related carbon emissions. At last May's Redesigning the Edgeless City workshop, a diverse group of planners, environmentalists, community advocates, and business people met in Hartford to discuss the link between transportation and development and to test how coordinated land use and transportation policies could impact Greater Hartford. RPA has analyzed existing zoning regulations of each town in the CRCOG region and found that housing and commercial development produced by current policies would raise emissions by 22% without even meeting the anticipated needs of our residents or supporting pending public transit investments. The report documents alternative transit-based scenarios developed at the May meeting which would reduce the projected growth in emissions by 11% and provide access to transit necessary to reduce our dependence on automobiles, saving the average household in the region approximately $360 each year in gas costs alone.
Growing Economy is a template for the type of regional planning that will be supported by the recently announced HUD/DOT/EPA Sustainable Communities initiative--planning which combines economic development, housing supply and demand, environmental quality, and transportation needs of a region into an integrated and achievable vision. As Tisha Ferguson of Connecticut Fund for the Environment tells us, Growing Economy is "a blueprint for making the right choices to reconnect the urban and outlying communities, creating a vibrant urban hub and realizing Hartford's potential for regional economic leadership."
The report was prepared in recognition that the Hartford region is about to invest in two transformative transit projects: the New Britain-Hartford busway, expected to receive a full-funding grant agreement later this year from the federal New Starts program, and the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield commuter rail, now completing its environmental assessment. RPA estimates that transit-oriented development can reduces miles driven by the average Hartford-area household by 2,400 miles per year, reducing the need for a second or third car. Given the challenges faced in shifting to renewable energy, more efficient cars, and more efficient buildings, transit-oriented development represents a strategy to harness private investment to achieve the State of Connecticut's carbon emissions reduction goals of 10% below 1990 levels by 2020.
Growing Economy was produced with the support of Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in cooperation with Capitol Region Council of Governments.