Current and future light rail lines spur billions in investment


A METRO Green Line train on University Avenue next to the Minnesota State Capitol in Saint Paul. (Photo credit: Tony Webster, Flickr)

The Twin Cities’ Metropolitan Council recently announced that over $8.4 billion has been invested in development projects within a half mile of existing and future regional light rail lines. They estimate the actual number to be significantly higher given that many developers have not disclosed the value of their projects.

Along the Southwest Corridor, a planned 14-mile light rail line between Minneapolis and Eden Prairie, project investments are estimated to be more than $1 billion. This level of development is surprising considering the line has not begun construction and has been the subject of many debates related to funding and alignments. Yet developers continue to use the light rail line in their marketing to sell properties and construction of the line is expected to begin later this year.

While some of these projects many not be the direct result of future rail lines, it helps to document increases in activity. Many regions document projects along light rail lines to show how the infrastructure investments are changing land uses or population. Transit agencies and cities from Denver to Charlotte, NC have been collecting numbers on development projects and research can be instrumental in discussing the positive (and potentially negative) impacts of major transit investments.

Three examples of this type of monitoring can be found in the TOD resource library at In addition to the link to the Twin Cities report above, there’s a similar report available from Dallas: Development Impacts of the DART Light Rail System. Additionally, macro trends from station areas around the country over a ten year period can be found in Trends in TOD, while a time series study of development along three light rail lines can be found in Rails to Real Estate.

Recent TOD news

Here are a few things that have been happening this week with TOD projects across the country.

  • A four step community engagement plan for addressing TOD side effects (Efficient Gov)
  • Philadelphia’s First Step to a Platform of Innovation (New York Times)
  • Can Los Angeles improve its track record with TOD? (Brookings)
  • Financing infrastructure with value capture: the good, the bad, & the ugly (Strong Towns)