On March 16, Charlotte launched a major extension of the city’s Lynx Blue Line light rail route. The extension comes just over a decade after the Blue Line’s inaugural run in 2007, and connects UNC Charlotte directly to the city center. The light rail line runs along an exclusive right-of-way and is projected to carry a daily ridership of 24,500 by 2035. Architecture and engineering firm STV was the principal firm behind the project's design. In a bid to provide greater physical and visual amenities to transit users and pedestrians, the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) set a $4.9 million budget for public art installations. Additionally, the project includes bike lanes, improved sidewalks and green landscaping. The 9.3-mile extension adds 11 new stations to the Blue Line, bringing its total up to 26 stations on 18.9 miles of trackage. Four park-and-ride stations have been constructed as part of the line extension, providing approximately 3,000 spaces to reduce vehicular congestion of the I-85. Further intermodal opportunities are planned with the integration of the CATS bus services from neighborhoods adjacent to the light rail stations. As reported by the Charlotte Observer, funding for the $1.1 billion project came from the federal government, providing half of the budget, with the city and state splitting the remainder. The LYNX Blue Line is one of two light rail lines operated by the CATS, the other being the 1.5-mile CityLYNX Gold Line. Total daily ridership of CATS is just over 80,000, a figure expected to grow exponentially with an anticipated expansion of the Gold Line, as well as the development of an entirely new light rail line and commuter rail line connecting the city center to Charlotte's northern suburbs. In an press conference reported by WFAE, CATS CEO John Lewis estimated the budget of these three transportation projects to be between $5 to $8 billion. In line with the growing trend of transit-oriented development, Charlotte’s municipal government has rezoned areas surrounding new stations. According to BISNOW, hundreds of acres of mixed-use development, in varying states of completion, have already cropped up around the rail line extension.
Posts tagged with "Transit-Oriented Development":
Portland, Oregon–based William Kaven Architecture (WKA) has revealed the full vision behind the firm’s eye-catching proposal to add a pair of interlinked high rise towers to downtown Portland’s 32-acre mixed-use Broadway Corridor site. The updated plan comes in response to an RFQ put forth by economic redevelopment agency Prosper Portland meant to generate ideas for how to best reconnect the city’s Chinatown and Pearl District neighborhoods. WKA revealed the tower component of the proposal late last year. Prosper Portland’s vision calls for demolishing an existing central postal facility and removing an on ramp to the NW Broadway bridge in order to spur more transit-oriented development, reorient the neighborhood around an expanded central greenway, and promote equity and sustainability goals within the heart of the city. Under WKA’s vision, the site, currently co-owned by the Postal Service and the Portland Housing Bureau, would give way to a nearly five-million-square-foot redevelopment scheme that includes not just the pair of high-rise towers, but also calls for a new covered market hall, a new museum, a public reflection pool, and several low- and mid-rise housing towers. Describing the project, WKA partner and founder Daniel Kaven said, “This is a historic opportunity to revitalize a core area of our city. Our vision is to develop an urban district capable of accommodating Portland’s rapid growth and provide the building blocks of future transportation resources. It is our hope to work with the City of Portland and its stakeholders to fully realize a vision that will both be an architectural draw to Portland and spur economic and cultural development far beyond the scope of the project.” If built according to plan, the scheme’s twin tower component would reshape the Portland skyline. The interlocking towers differ in their heights, with the tallest of the two slated to rise 970 feet. The rectilinear and diagrid-wrapped towers would be connected 680 feet up by a truss-supported bridge containing an indoor botanical garden, among other programs. If completed as planned, the towers would be the tallest in the city and among the tallest on the West Coast. New renderings released for the proposal show a neat grid of mid-rise structures surrounding the expaanded greenway, with a site plan indicating that the new developments will be connected by a new underground transit station. The transit station is delineated along streetlevel by a large butterfly roof structure capped with moss. It is expected that a full build-out of the project would include additional design teams. Prosper Portland is expected to reveal a shortlist with project finalists in March of this year. A timeline for full implementation of the project has not been released.
The United States, let alone Florida, is not known for its widely accessible and comprehensive regional mass transit networks. Bucking this trend, on January 15, the state inaugurated Brightline, a private passenger rail between the cities of West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale that shaves 30 minutes off the time required by car. While the distance between the two cities is not great, with the train journey taking just 40 minutes, the Brightline has reintroduced private commuter rail to the United States for the first time in decades. Although Brightline currently only operates between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, it is slated to expand to Miami and Orlando by 2020, utilizing 240 miles of track carving through densely populated Southeastern Florida. While not part of the current proposal, All Aboard Florida has suggested that Tampa and Jacksonville could be linked to the Brightline network. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Zyscovich Architects are designing the stations located in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach. All of the stations share a material palette and design aesthetic, while conforming to their individual environments. At the cost of $3.1 billion, Brightline promises to transform commuting between Miami and Orlando to a relatively minimal 3 hours, taking an hour off the drive time. According to Next City, the new rail service could take upwards of 3 million cars off of South Florida roads, with the potential to capture up to 20 percent of travel between the two cities, two of the most visited cities in the United States. The introductory fare between West Palm and Fort Lauderdale is $10, a bargain considering the amenities aboard the train, which include leather seats, free WiFi, power outlets and bike racks. As reported by USA Today, the Brightline will prove operationally profitable if it captures just 2 percent of the 100 million annual trips between Miami and Orlando. Fortress Investment Group, the parent company of the Brightline, is hedging that its investment in new transit hubs will increase property values surrounding stations as well as revenue generated by real estate development. Forrest Investment Group is already building more than 800 high-priced rentals at its Miami station and close to 300 in West Palm, in tandem with new skyscrapers dedicated to commercial and retail functions. While Brightline is based in Florida, its model of privately-funded and operated high-speed rail is replicable across the country. According to Modern Cities, Brightline is considering implementing its concept in similar urban corridors to those in Southeastern Florida, with the possibility of new links between Atlanta and Charlotte or Houston and Dallas. With the Trump administration’s recently leaked draft infrastructure plan emphasizing financially independent public transport systems, Brightline could prove to be a successful model for expanding rail service to millions of Americans while spurring high-density development in sprawl-ridden metropolitan areas.
Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel floats ordinance to fast-track transit-oriented development, reduce parking minimums
This week Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel will push a plan to expand transit-oriented development (TOD) by easing zoning restrictions and releasing certain projects from parking requirements altogether. The city already has an ordinance providing for transit-oriented development and, as AN has previously reported, several projects have rushed to take advantage of it. Mixed-use developments with dozens of new housing units have slashed their parking lots, avoiding a longstanding code requirement that they provide one spot for every unit by building near transit stations. Chicago's Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) gave the proposed changes a favorable preliminary analysis, building off its own “TOD calculator” which the agency released recently in order to spur private developers into building on dozens of properties it labeled “ready for TOD.” Emanuel's new ordinance would give developers of such projects more opportunities to reduce their investment in parking. Here are the changes City Council members will vote on Wednesday, according to the mayor's press office:
• TOD incentives will be available within an expanded radius from a transit station: up to 1,320 feet (1/4 mile) or 2,640 feet (1/2 mile) on a Pedestrian-designated street. • A 100 percent reduction from residential parking requirements if replaced with alternative transportation options, such as a car sharing station on site, or bike parking. • A streamlined process for accessing the minimum lot area, floor area ratio (FAR), and building height incentives by allowing developers to secure these benefits through an Administrative Adjustment from the Zoning Administrator, as opposed to a zoning map amendment by City Council under current law. • For projects that trigger the city’s Affordable Requirements Ordinance (ARO), an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 3.75) if the development includes half of any required affordable housing units on site, plus an additional 0.25 FAR increase (to 4.0) if the development includes all required affordable housing units on site.
It finally happened. After decades of planning, five years of construction, and months of delays, Washington D.C.'s brand-new Silver Metro line welcomed over 50,000 commuters for its opening weekend. The new 11.4-mile line, which includes five new stations, will ultimately connect the city to Dulles Airport in Virginia. That part of the line is scheduled to open in 2018. The Silver line, though, is more than an attempt to connect a city with its airport—it's the latest, multi-billion dollar effort to expand a rail system, spur economic development, and create more walkable, pedestrian-friendly destinations. So, yes, it's ambitious. And, yes, it was expensive. A host of local and national officials—including Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx—were on hand this weekend to test out the new rails, which were first proposed in the early 1960s. Many of the excited commuters on their inaugural rides told local news crews that the Silver line will significantly cut down their commute time and may even allow them to ditch their car altogether. The Metro predicts there will be 50,000 daily riders on the Silver line by this time next year, and more than twice that by 2025 when the line is connected to Dulles Airport. Of course, building an entirely new rail line comes with significant costs (and significant delays and significant cost overruns). This first section of the project cost $2.9 billion, which is $150 million over budget, and opened six months late. All told, this first phase of the line cost nearly $47,000 a foot. The second phase is expected to cost $2.7 billion. About half of the total cost of the first phase came from increased tolls on the Dulles Toll road. The remaining half is a mix of funds from federal and local levels. In between DC and Dulles is Tysons Corner—an area in Virginia that's trying to shake its reputation as just a collection of shopping malls and office towers. That is no easy task, but the powerful interests in town see the opening of the Silver line as a crucial test of whether that's even possible. “There's not much riding on the Silver Line except the future of the American suburb as we know it,” CityLab recently declared. “A half-dozen Fortune 500 companies are based [in Tysons],” explained the site. “The area is rife with high-end hotels, restaurants, and department stores; there's even a Tesla dealership coming in. But grocery stores never arrived in any substantial numbers, nor did churches or parks or any of the other sorts of services that could help make a place feel like home for the roughly 19,000 people who live here now.” To achieve that, Tysons is planning new permanent green space, pop-up parks, new trees, overall streetscape improvements, and thousands of new apartments. A key element of the Silver line's planning seems to be perfectly aligned with that goal of a more walkable, urbanistic future. But it's not what the Silver line offers Tysons—rather what it doesn't: parking. The Washington Post reported that there are no parking garages at four of the five stations in Tysons. Walking or biking to one of these stations, though, appears to be a rather hellish experience, according to Ken Archer, who works at a software firm in Tysons."I've endured the lack of crosswalks in Tysons Corner for years as a pedestrian, but assumed that Fairfax County would add crosswalks before the Silver Line began operation," he wrote on the blog Greater Greater Washington. "The county needs to create safe pedestrian pathways immediately, rather than waiting until someone gets hurt or killed."
Cleveland’s conflicting development pressures came to a head last week over one avenue on the city’s West Side, and whether its future holds car-oriented businesses like McDonald’s or lanes for public transit and bike paths. The Plain Dealer's Steven Litt reported on developers’ plans to suburbanize the area around Lorain Avenue at Fulton Road: “Residents hate the idea with a passion,” he wrote. Much of Cleveland was designed when its population was far greater than it is today. Though on the rebound, the city has far different needs than it did in decades prior. That’s the thinking behind the Ohio City Inc. community development corporation’s new plan, which calls for a $17.3 million overhaul of the avenue from West 25th to West 85th streets. The route would include a 2.3-mile, bicycle track along the north side of the street—the city’s first separated, two-way paths for bikes. Proponents of the plan and those who’d prefer automobile-oriented development could have it out at an upcoming community meeting in January in the Detroit Shoreway neighborhood (time and place to be announced). The City Planning Commission could pick it up from there. Cleveland’s Ohio City neighborhood has enjoyed a renaissance in recent years, and recently reexamined transportation policies to build on the increasingly urban character of this self-described artisan neighborhood.