Strategies including community engagement, placemaking, mixed-income housing, complete streets, parking configuration, green infrastructure and energy efficiency are outlined in a comprehensive 68-page “toolkit” focusing on opportunities to extend transit-oriented development in Connecticut, as the state moves forward with significant rail and bus initiatives.
Working in partnership, Connecticut Fund for the Environment, Partnership for Strong Communities, Regional Plan Association and Tri-State Transportation Campaign have created a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) Toolkit that highlights key strategies necessary for developing competitive and sustainable TOD in Connecticut. The toolkit has been shared in recent weeks with interested officials and organizations around the state, and discussed at two public forums in Bridgeport that brought together more than 80 municipal leaders from the region.
The document outlines the primary components of a TOD program that meets common community goals of strengthening town centers, supporting municipal budgets, expanding housing and commercial opportunities, and minimizing environmental impacts. Among the central components outlined:
- The process and design for getting TOD built in a community, from developing a community vision and supportive zoning, to determining how accessible a station is for non-drivers.
- The demographic trends that favor mixed-income, transit-accessible housing, the fiscal impacts of residential TOD, and mechanisms to include affordable housing within TOD development.
- Complete Streets strategies that enhance streets and sidewalks to promote walking and biking to a station and to TOD built around it. Transit access, walking an bicycling, and the mix of uses in TOD mean that TOD districts require less parking than traditional development.
- Best practices for managing parking, including parking maximums, shared parking, and transit incentives.
- Information and resources for incorporating green infrastructure and energy solutions in a community. Green infrastructure minimizes wastewater and pollutant impacts from development. Energy-efficiency, local energy generation and micro-grids help communities use less power and withstand disruptions to the regional energy supply.
Efforts are continuing by the organizations participating in the effort, and others pursuing a transit-oriented development agenda, to coordinate with key state agencies regarding strategies to move TOD forward in the state, especially along key transportation corridors. Officials are working to secure funds for a new TOD position that would initially provide technical support to Meriden and other towns on the upcoming New Haven – Hartford – Springfield rail and CTfastrak bus lines and to develop a funding source to support financing and land acquisition for priority TOD sites.
Transit-oriented development is described in the toolkit as “development that’s built to take advantage of the ability of people to access it with transit – a strategy for growth that produces less traffic and lessens impact on roads and highways.” The overview also points out that “households located within walking distance of transit own fewer cars, drive less, and pay a smaller share of their income on transportation related expenses. Homes and businesses can be built with less parking, reducing the cost of development, making development more feasible in weak markets, and increasing local tax revenue.”