Saturday, May 29, 2010

Streetsblog Talks about a Portland TOD Project

The Blue Line MAX light rail to Gresham, on Je...Image via Wikipedia

On Thursday the Streetblogs network had an excellent article on financing transit oriented development:

How Portland Sold Its Banks on Walkable Development

The articles discuses a project in Gresham, Oregon which is on the far eastern side of Portland's MAX light rail system. The article shows how the county planning agency took the lead to see that a TOD project was built and now it is leading to additional investments in the area.

In 1987, I made my first trip to Portland to stay for a few nights and I happened to stay in Gresham proper since it was near the then new "MAX" light rail line. At the time the city was typical suburbs with park N ride lots at the transit stations but nothing near by similar to what TRAX started out with.

However, by 2004 when we made multiple trips to the city, the whole area has begun to change. There is more development near the transit stations giving residents a choice to leave near a transit station and use a car less.

Here in Salt Lake City we are starting to see the first phases of TOD taking shape. The Fireclay project is starting to expand, the new transit station is accepting residents which sits near the 3900 South station (although I have some reservations about that project and I will share them in the future), and new homes are going up at the Sandy Civic Center TRAX station.

Another problem the article mentions is when economic development councils subsidize car oriented development. We have seen this when certain big box retailers are given substantial subsidies to build in certain locals with politicians salivating over the sales tax that they will bring in despite the evidence that these developments often cost more than they bring in through additional infrastructure cost.

Like the problems with the Davis county NIMBY's, the problem comes down to a lack of experience with something new. As these developments become more common, the banks will be more willing to invest in these projects.

All of the new TRAX lines now being built have excellent TOD possibilities, so now is the time to get projects under our belts and allowing all concerned to become better acquainted with the concept that will allow new alternatives to our present development patterns.

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