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State Efforts To Encourage TOD

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In Maryland, as in most states, urban development questions -- smart growth vs. sprawl -- are issues decided by local commissions and councils. But that doesn't mean the state is without means to encourage best practices in creating sustainable cities.

This week Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley issued an executive order that requires state agencies to consider proximity to transit as a key factor when deciding where to locate state offices and labs.

“Transit Oriented Development is a critical component of our Smart, Green and Growing initiative aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions, sprawl development and traffic congestion, while fostering economic growth,” said Gov.O’Malley. “State government must lead by example. When building or leasing space for offices in the future, we will be prioritizing sites that are within walking distance of transit stations.”

The Executive Order makes it a policy of the government to locate state office or laboratory space within a half-mile radius of transit stations whenever appropriate and feasible. Proximity to transit will also be included when considering leasing office space.

Putting state offices near transit is an example of the synergy created when transit and destinations are linked. Earlier this year, the Center for Transit-Oriented Development issued  "Destinations Matter: Building Transit Success," which analyzed performance of 19 transit lines to understand factors contributing to increased ridership. In addition, using employment centers to improve transit's share of commute was the subject of a CTOD TOD 202 report, “Station Area Planning: How To Make Great Transit-Oriented Places.”

The governor's order complements Maryland legislative efforts to encourage creation of compact, walkable and transit-connected communities.  During this year's legislative session, the General Assembly expanded local government authority to use tax increment financing and special taxing districts at TODs to pay for  project infrastructure. Last year, the legislature declared TOD as a formal “transportation purpose.”

Additional information on the O’Malley administration’s TOD initiative can be found at the following at www.mdot-realestate.org/tod.asp

Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development have been active in Maryland's efforts. In September, the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance released "Central Maryland TOD Strategy: A Regional Action Plan For Transit-Centered Communities." Technical assistance for this study was provided by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development.