New Federal Grants Boost Transit Oriented Development Planning

One of the positive innovations in recent federal transportation law has been the creation of a pilot program to fund transit oriented development (TOD) planning. This Federal Transit Administration initiative was established in MAP-21 and continued in the recently enacted FAST Act.

This week FTA announced $14.7 million in new TOD planning grants. This year’s funding supports 16 grants in cities and regions around the country.

The goal of the program is to support comprehensive planning efforts that integrate land use and transportation in areas receiving federal support for new or expanded transit. In addition to the goals of helping communities improve access to transit and encourage economic development, the program also aims to advance social equity concerns.

According to U.S. DOT, the grants are intended “to encourage inclusive communities and seek planning solutions to reduce residential and commercial displacement.”

In announcing the grants, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, “The Obama Administration is proud to partner with forward-leaning communities with plans to develop around transit options that connect hardworking families to jobs, education, and opportunity.”

Among the projects supported by the new grants are:

  • Efforts in Phoenix to plan for additional development and improved pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure in the South Central Light Rail Transit Extension corridor while preserving nearby housing affordability and established small businesses;
  • Work in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to develop a planning vision for the corridor along the planned University Boulevard Bus Rapid Transit project. The diverse corridor is New Mexico’s educational and health care center and will intersect with the new Albuquerque Rapid Transit project along Central Avenue;
  • Planning in the St. Louis region to ensure that diverse populations can benefit from a proposed 17-mile, 28-station Metro Link light rail line that will connect downtown St. Louis with the city’s northern and southern limits encompassing some areas of historic disinvestment.

In addition to the release of the planning grants, a new report on equity and TOD planning was also released this week: “Advancing Equitable TOD through Community Partnerships and Public Sector Leadership.” 

The report, authored by Mariia Zimmerman of MZ Strategies and funded by the Ford Foundation, spotlights strategies being used in four regions to create more inclusive communities near transit, and discusses federal tools available to support development of transit real estate assets for affordable housing.

Top image: Rendering of proposed St. Louis Metro Link light rail station from 2008 planning report.

About the Author

Jason Jordan

Jason Jordan is APA's director of policy.

October 12, 2016

By Jason Jordan