TOD Technical Assistance Initiative
Here at CCLR, we’re deeply interested in Transit Oriented Development (TOD). Redeveloping vacant or underutilized properties with an eye toward transit, mobility and access is a best practice, and helps promote sustainable, economic growth, and community health. Consider that compared to sprawl, brownfields redevelopment projects lower vehicle miles traveled and greenhouse gas emissions by 32 to 57 percent, and a big part of that is TOD.1
In December of 2016, the FTA and Smart Growth America announced the launch of the TOD Technical Assistance Initiative, a collaboration effort to help communities across the country build equitable transit oriented developments projects. Both organizations are working to encourage and advance successful TOD projects in disenfranchised communities across the country. In early 2016, they chose nine communities to receive a combination of short- and long-term assistance.
This year, five communities were chosen by the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Smart Growth America to receive technical assistance in the second round of their TOD Technical Assistance Initiative, starting in 2017. The following five communities were awarded grants for TOD technical assistance:
-Albuquerque, New Mexico
-Charlotte, North Carolina
The TOD Technical Assistance Initiative’s website includes a dynamic database of the leading research on TOD, information about popular funding and financing options for TOD projects, and opportunities for TOD professionals to connect with one another. All of this is designed to help elected officials, municipal staff, advocates, developers, transportation professionals, and urban planners discover new ideas, connect with one another and ultimately build great projects. The new website is just one part of the project’s work, which also includes on-site technical assistance and a collaborative network of TOD professionals open by invitation only.
This Initiative is a four-year partnership between the FTA and Smart Growth America that aims to help communities in economically disadvantaged areas build compact, equitable, mixed-use developments near or within transit corridors. With this new round of technical assistance, each city will receive in-depth, long-term assistance from representatives at Smart Growth America and the FTA. These representatives will work with local staff to provide customized resources and recommendations.
TOD and Transformation
TOD projects have proven that they can transform blighted communities by using the right amount of planning mixed with technical assistance. One such example of blighted, brownfields land being turned into a community asset is the Fruitvale Station in Oakland, California. The neighborhood is home to a large part of the area’s Hispanic population, which for years was cut off from accessing the public light rail station due to contaminated and underutilized land. This kind of project serves to demonstrate the effectiveness of building mixed-use space within a community: affordable housing, transportation, businesses, and social services are all within walking distance of one another and the train station. It enables low-income residents to remain in the communities where they grew up, while allowing local businesses to thrive. TOD projects have also proven to reduce waste and automobile pollution. The project brought services to the community that it lacked such as a library, a senior center, access to groceries, and more.
In addition, anyone interested in TOD in their community can join the project’s mailing list to get news about new resources and opportunities here.
If you are interested in learning more about ongoing and past research on community resiliency and TOD projects, please access the Center for Transit-Oriented Development’s publications webpage, here.
If you are a federal agency, nonprofit or community stakeholder who is in search of resources or training related to TOD projects, please visit the training and resources page of the Federal Transit Administration, here.
1U.S. EPA, “Air and Water Quality Impacts of Brownfields Redevelopment,” October 2011.
Written by William Hilton.
Photo Courtesy of TJ Gehling, via Flickr.