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The Council of State Governments
March 15, 2011
States Have Big Chance to Impact Development
Around High-Speed Rail
New Capitol Research Brief Highlights How States Can Maximize Federal Funding,
LEXINGTON, Ky.— The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $8 billion in federal funding to help states develop high-speed rail. Although high-speed rail has suffered a number of political setbacks in recent months with some states turning down federal funding, other states continue to plan how to not only use federal funds to improve their state’s transportation infrastructure, but also to better integrate rail into communities and take advantage of the economic development and quality-of-life improvements rail can bring.
In trying to envision a future for high-speed rail communities, state policymakers may be able to draw upon the principles of transit-oriented development, a concept long known in the planning community. The Council of State Governments’ new Capitol Research brief on Transit-Oriented Development examines the policy options available to states to try to shape how development occurs around planned high-speed rail and transit stations.
Among the states highlighted in the brief is California, where a new high-speed rail line is planned and where some hope policymakers will learn lessons from what happened when San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit rail system was developed in the 1960s. Instead of locating train stations within walking distance of housing and businesses, the transit system ended up with remote stations surrounded by parking and little else due to a lack of a good land-use plan.
“State governments have a strong role to play in helping to shape the kinds of communities Americans say they want—accessible ones with transportation choices and lots of places to live, shop, work and play nearby,” said Sean Slone, senior transportation policy analyst at CSG. “Local, regional and state policymakers need to be encouraged to work together to coordinate plans, find ways to encourage development and promote public-private partnerships. In assuming a strong role, states can help ensure federal, state and private dollars are invested wisely and high-speed rail has the best chance possible to be successful.”
“Transportation can be the key to a brighter economic future, a healthier environment and more sustainable communities,” added Slone. “But the difference between success and boondoggle can come down to two simple words—thorough planning.”
To learn more, read CSG’s Capitol Research Brief on Transit-Oriented Development. For more information about this or any other topic, visit CSG’s Knowledge Center. Read Sean Slone's blog about today's pressing transportation issues by clicking here.
The Council of State Governments is our nation’s only organization serving all three branches of state government. CSG is a region-based forum that fosters the exchange of insights and ideas to help state officials shape public policy. This offers unparalleled regional, national and international opportunities to network, develop leaders, collaborate and create problem-solving partnerships.