A New Way to Promote Development Near Transit

Connecticut's transit system, already one of the busiest in the country, is about to expand with the addition of the New Britain-Hartford Busway and New Haven-Springfield Commuter Rail. These new services will spur commercial and residential development around transit hubs, increasing local property values and tax revenue -- but only if local governments and the state create the regulatory frameworks that enable transit-oriented development.


The Springdale neighborhood in Stamford recently adopted village-district zoning that enables walkable, mixed-use development near its train station on Metro-North's New Canaan branch. (mouse over to view photo simulation)

A new RPA proposal suggests how future station-area development could fund initial planning and improvements in communities with rail stations and contribute to future improvements to the transit network. The proposed program joins supportive planning policies with low-cost, flexible development incentives that can be implemented by municipalities to unlock development potential in their downtown station areas.

A transportation funding forum held last month in Hartford highlighted that Connecticut's transportation infrastructure will require major repairs and reconstruction over the next decade, including replacing rail bridges and rebuilding highway interchanges. Funds will be in short supply for the station-area improvements that help make communities desirable places to live and work. One way to ensure that communities with transit have the resources to support planning and complementary capital investments is to dedicate a small portion of property tax revenue from redeveloped sites near transit to a transit hub development fund that reinvests in existing and new rail station communities. A partnership between the state and its municipalities can support the early regulatory work that must be done to prepare station areas for investment, while providing revenue to maintain station areas and foster future growth.

Read the proposal for a station-area investment program.

Read more about last week's Transportation Funding Forum, co-sponsored by Regional Plan Association: "Transportation Officials Discuss the Unspeakable- Highway Tolls And Surcharges"