Post-Gazette: Can transit grow neighborhoods?

I was one of the 170 people who attended the Transit Oriented Development (TOD) symposium last Tuesday on the 31st floor of the Regional Enterprise Tower (or The Tower of Power, as I like to call it). It’s exciting to see that level of enthusiasm for transit, walkable/bikable communities and how these things can spur economic development. A good amount of time was spent on the bike network in the city and how providing better bike access to transit can also get more people to take transit and make TODs even more viable. The key point made over and over were the importance of pedestrian-friendly and linking in shops and conveniences with transit. Again, it’s exciting when so many community leaders show up for a symposium on how transit, biking and walking link directly to economic development opportunities. Thanks to Sustainable Pittsburgh, East Liberty Development Inc., Heinz Endowments, Surdna Foundation, Reconnecting America, and the URA for putting this together!

Can transit grow neighborhoods?
Monday, January 12, 2009
By Jon Schmitz, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Each weekday, light-rail cars packed with a total of 13,000 commuters rumble through the Beechview business district, which is dotted with vacant storefronts.

Buses haul another 30,000 riders on the Martin Luther King Jr. East Busway, passing the Homewood station, surrounded by long-standing blight and decay.

Can railcars and buses be engines of rebirth for those and other struggling communities? A growing body of planners, nationally and locally, thinks so.

They have embraced a concept they call transit-oriented development, the aim of which is to create and sustain walkable neighborhoods with a mix of housing and retail development and transit hubs — light-rail or busway stations — at their core.

“If the single-family home in the suburbs was the American Dream of yore, the new American Dream also includes lofts, townhomes, live-work spaces and apartments in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods near high-quality transit,” says Reconnecting America, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that promotes transit-oriented development. Read more»

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