Poster: Rail Transit: Residential Land Use Impacts
Boston's rail transit extensions in the 1970s and 1980s show evidence that improved access to rail transit is associated with increased density of housing stock. The effects take decades to be reflected, an important consideration for project assessment.
While the importance of rail transit in creating dense, livable places may seem self-evident to many urban planners, there is actually a great discrepancy between two schools of thought. Some advocate transit oriented development and the expansion of rail transit systems as a solution to a variety of urban ills, including housing issues, while others remain skeptical, recognizing that there are benefits from having an existing system, but rarely recommending the construction of new rail transit systems. This poster examines the impacts of the extensions of the MBTA Red and Orange Lines in Boston during the 1970s and 1980s to add to this conversation by analyzing the changes in the residential nature of neighborhoods around new transit stations in the decades after they were built.
Boston is a particularly relevant place for this inquiry for a number of reasons. Its rail transit system has undergone several phases of development, including the opening of the first underground subway line in the United States in 1897. The most recent major phase of development was the realignment of the northern and southern stretches Orange Line and extension of the Red Line to Alewife and to Braintree, all of which occurred as a part of a nationwide wave of transit construction in the latter half of the twentieth century. Today, Boston has once again been engaged in a debate around an extension to the Green Line, making this an opportune time to assess the lessons that can be learned from past efforts. In this context, there is evidence that improved access to rail transit does indeed generate some increased residential density, particularly with respect to the physical housing stock and especially when considered over a long time frame (twenty years and more). By examining the evidence, we can help further situate the discussion around transit in Boston and beyond.
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, New York
Confirmed SpeakerPaul Lillehaugen is a Program Manager in City & Practice Management at 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation where he works with a portfolio of North American cities, helping them institutionalize a culture of resilience and plan for the physical, social, and economic challenges of the 21st century. He completed his Masters in Urban Planning at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design where he concentrated on transportation planning, housing, and neighborhood development – he wrote his thesis on the residential land use impacts of Boston’s subway extensions in the latter half of the twentieth century. While in graduate school, Paul worked in real estate development and city planning for the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation in Newark, New Jersey and was involved with the Envision Cambridge community engagement and planning process in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Prior to graduate school, Paul worked for several years in health care technology consulting in Minneapolis, Minnesota. While in Minneapolis, he volunteered as a member of the Community Affairs Committee of the Uptown Association – the civic-minded business association in his local neighborhood. With the Uptown Association, he was involved with a variety of initiatives, including Art Outside the Box, which leveraged city grants to foster connections between neighborhood stakeholders and to wrap utility boxes with public art commissioned from local artists. A Minnesota native, Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Art from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.