TRANSIT: Connecticut banks on transit-oriented development

June 20, 2016

The Malloy administration is giving $6.4 million to 11 communities to spur growth near transit hubs

As part of its campaign to build economic development through better mass transportation, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy's administration is giving about $6.4 million to 11 state communities to spur residential or commercial growth near transit hubs.

Most of the grants are intended to attract businesses and create more walkable, pleasant streets surrounding train stations on Shore Line East, the planned Hartford Line, Metro-North's New Haven line and its branches as well as CTfastrak bus stations.

The grants will fund streetscape improvements, traffic studies, master development plans and other work in areas near transit centers in multiple Connecticut cities.

The idea behind so-called transit-oriented development is that key segments of the population are growing more interested in driving less, or not at all. Senior citizens and young adults, in particular, want to live near jobs, stores, restaurants and service businesses, all within easy walking distance of mass transit, according to advocates of Connecticut transit-oriented development. A new study by HNTB Corp., a national infrastructure consulting and engineering company, suggests that trend is particularly strong among America's young adults.

A 2014 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office concluded that poorly coordinated local land-use policies can be a significant roadblock to transit-oriented development. Even popular transit systems can take many years to generate nearby economic growth, the GAO said, and some — such as Baltimore's light rail system — can operate for decades without fostering new business.