The Power of Transit-Oriented Development

Ryan Avent of Streetsblog brings us this story on the history of transit-oriented development in Arlington, VA.  Back in the 70’s, when DC was building its Metro system, Arlington was bounded by a floundering DC on the East and a flourishing suburban Fairfax County on the West.  Despite this, Arlington decided to focus growth on infill around the new Metro stations.  It has paid off.  Arlington has expereinced a 10% growth in population this decade, all infill.  Traffic, on the other hand, is about the same as it was in 1975.  Most amazing is the fact that “1,000 units of urban-format TOD housing generates fewer auto trips per day than a single suburban-format McDonalds or 7-11. You can build 1,000,000 square feet of residential TOD and generate less congestion than 2,000 square feet of auto-oriented retail.”  Having exhausted their existing train stops, Arlington is extending their transit opportunities to include a new streetcar.  Fairfax is actually trying to make the change from suburban to urban development.  They have been trying to focus development near the stations that they had built far from population centers and had turned into park and rides.  They will also be extending the Metro out to Tyson’s Corner.  It’s great to see that history has proven TOD to be a sound development pattern.

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