A ripple effect of economic growth


The arrival of a new rail station in Meriden, CT inspired the establishment of a 14-acre downtown park. (Photo credit: Tom Condon, CTmirror.org)

A forthcoming commuter rail service line between New Haven, CT and Springfield, MA is injecting new life into often forgotten portions of the Northeast region. The Hartford line, scheduled to launch in May 2018, is part of a larger partnership among the State of Connecticut, Amtrak, and the Federal Railroad Administration. The program will eventually facilitate passenger rail expansion to New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Montreal.

Older, more secluded walkable towns that have been struggling to attract investment and new residents will now offer fast and frequent service to major employment centers such as New York and Boston. Real estate developers are eyeing some of these Connecticut communities like Meriden and Wallingford, where new rail stations have been constructed, to bring transit-oriented housing to the market. They see unmet demand from potential residents who want to live in smaller New England towns but retain access to well-paying jobs.

Meriden, CT has already reimagined its development patterns by embracing a TOD programdesigned to transform the half-mile area around the station into a vibrant, mixed-use neighborhood. A 63-unit mixed-use retail and residential complex now stands directly across from the rail station, and another 295-unit building is underway. The new rail service also inspired the establishment of a 14-acre downtown park that serves as “the town square the city never had”, with farmers’ markets, concerts, and live performances, and also serves a double purpose as the town’s flood control infrastructure. Ongoing public and private investment in Meriden’s TOD projects has already exceeded $150 million.

This particular investment in transit is producing a ripple effect of economic growth throughout Connecticut, but it’s up to community leaders to make strategic land use decisions around its rail stations to maximize the potential. Planning for Transit Supportive Development: A Resource Guide, a report from the Federal Transit Administration available on TODresources.org, offers guidance to planners, transit agencies, and elected officials on ways to better integrate transit planning with local land-use planning.

Recent TOD news

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