CSG this week issues a new brief in our Capitol Research series entitled “Transit-Oriented Development.” Using the possibility of development around future high-speed rail stations as a jumping off point, it examines the policy options available to states to try to shape how that development occurs. While high-speed rail has suffered a number of political setbacks in recent months, it remains on track in some parts of the country. But regardless of whether high-speed rail is coming to your state any time soon, there is a great deal of useful information in the brief about the role states can play in shaping the kinds of communities Americans say they want and that best serve our citizens, the environment and the economy. I encourage you to read the brief, which examines the benefits of transit-oriented development, the role of state governments in encouraging it, and the experiences of California and many other states in adopting related policies. If the brief piques your interest, there is an abundance of other worthwhile reading I can point you toward as well.
Congress this week approved and the President signed legislation to extend federal highway and transit programs for seven months as Washington appears ready to get to work on a new multiyear reauthorization of those programs that officials hope to have in place later this year. Meanwhile, we learned a bit more this week about the shape reauthorization might take from the man in charge of a key House committee and from the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. And just in time for the debate in Congress, a number of organizations and individuals are offering reauthorization resources and once again weighing in on what the legislation should include as well as the future of transportation policy.
Last month, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hosted a series of field hearings and listening sessions around the country to gather input on policies for a new long term authorization of federal transportation programs. Among the common themes heard at the events: the need for stability and predictability in federal transportation funding, the desire to explore more public-private partnerships and innovative finance mechanisms amidst a realization that they may not be applicable in all states or for all projects, the impact of environmental review processes on project delivery and the desire for greater flexibility for states and localities in spending federal transportation dollars. Here’s a roundup of some of what was heard at the sessions, based on written testimony and various media and blogger accounts.
While not a new concept in the public policy lexicon, transit-oriented development is receiving renewed attention as some states and communities ponder a future that may include high-speed rail. States have a vested interest in ensuring that huge investments in rail and transit systems pay off not only in improving transportation but also in creating economic development and helping to bring about healthier, more environmentally friendly and sustainable communities around transit stations. Fortunately, a number of states already have years of experience in using public policy to shape how this development takes place.