Transit Oriented Development: Next Generation Neighborhoods

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For a centruy, transit was an Indiana tradition.  A robust “interurban” railway network connected even the smallest of towns in Central Indiana.  In Indianapolis, few residents lived more than a few blocks from a bus or streetcar line, and the number of passengers getting on and off at major intersections proivded an economic lifeline for entrepreneurs to establish neighborhood-serving businesses.

Ball State urban planning students explored the application of transit-oriented development principles around 18 potential rail stations along the proposed Nickel Plate transit line that would connect downtown Indianapolis with Noblesville.  In addition, architecture students supplemented this work with additional ideas for a broader system.  The work was translated into a travelling exhibit for the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority (CIRTA) to begin the discussions on benefits of transit-oriented developments.

Transit-oriented development refers to a relatively denser development surrounding a transit station, where destinations are concentrated in a walkable district.  They are always mixed-use and thrive off the regional access guaranteed by the transit line.

The higher-density development provides for a wider range of housing types connected to regional employment destinations, thereby increasing opportunities for all spectrums of our community.  And it also gives the transit line the characteristics of an investment that returns an increased tax base to local governments.  Compact development also happens to be more efficiently served by public infrastructure and services than typical sprawl development.  And when done right, a transit stop can be the catalyst for revitalizing distressed neighborhoods, industrial brownfields, and outdated commercial districts.

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