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State Transit-Oriented Development Programs: Models for ConnDOT and the MTA?

Examines experiences in California, New Jersey, Massachusetts and other programs and identifies lessons for Connecticut and New York.

Though ConnDOT and the MTA have been sluggish to catch on to the potential of transit-oriented development (TOD), both agencies recently made clear their intent to embrace TOD principles.

At yesterday’s State of the MTA speech, MTA CEO Elliot Sander said his agency must “be a catalyst for environmentally sound land-use, smart growth and transit-oriented development.” The statement comes after the MTA announced the creation of a sustainability cabinet which is examining TOD, and issued a “request for expressions of interest” in transit-oriented development around the Beacon Metro-North station last year.

Last month, acting ConnDOT commissioner Emil Frankel called transit-oriented development “an integral component of [ConnDOT’s] comprehensive transportation policy, plan and strategy.” ConnDOT began to move towards a TOD strategy last year, when the agency hired Deputy Commissioner Albert Martin to focus on linking transportation and responsible growth; state legislators also set aside $5 million for ConnDOT to undertake a TOD pilot study in the October 2007 bonding bill.

As a next step, both ConnDOT and the MTA should create formal programs to promote TOD. A recent Council of State Governments review found six states with “proactive” state-level TOD policies. Of these states, California, Massachusetts, and New Jersey stood out. Here’s what each one can offer the agencies.