The corridor-wide approach allows a broader regional perspective, inhibits overt competition and results in a more coordinated approach. Development is traditionally a zero-sum game, and the corridor-wide economic analysis conducted for the project allows the corridor to be examined as a whole and not just in a piecemeal basis. The use of the same team on the entire corridor also prevents communities from unduly competing with each other in trying to attract development. The corridor-wide approach allows a broader, more comprehensive approach to development throughout the system.
The corridor-wide effort provides the same expertise offered by the consulting firm to all communities, resulting in a balanced and consistent approach. The methodology used is the same for all communities, and the project deliverables (including the final report) looks roughly the same for all jurisdictions, so no one gets more analysis than anyone else.
The corridor-wide approach results in economies of scale. The use of one firm on the corridor’s planning efforts allows cost efficiencies in staff time, travel expenses and production.
The balanced approach that examines TOD throughout the entire corridor allows the management of expectations. The use of one team to conduct the entire corridor’s analysis allows the team to reinforce the true potential of each station area. Management of expectations is often the hardest aspect of this type of project. Every community wants its TOD to be Fruitvale or Mockingbird Station, but the role of the project team — especially when viewing all the plans from a corridor perspective — is to give local jurisdictions a realistic forecast of development potential.
The publicity related to the corridor-wide effort encourages other communities to begin thinking about similar efforts. The SW2NE Rail Corridor is one of 10 corridors planned for commuter rail service in the Dallas-Fort Worth area between now and 2030. Already, other communities along those future passenger rail corridors are starting to think about stations and TOD in their areas well in advance of the initiation of alternatives analyses or DEIS projects. That kind of momentum can eventually accelerate the rail planning in those corridors, as local and regional decision-makers start making funding priority decisions for future planning efforts.
This ground-breaking, corridor-wide TOD planning effort has led to a significant shift in the thinking of staff members of jurisdictions along the corridor. Instead or reacting to a project, they are active participants in all facets of the rail project’s planning. The result will be a trend toward long-term regional cooperation and, most importantly, the opportunity to focus development around stations to help facilitate future travel in an energy-challenged world.
Tim Baldwin is vice president of URS Corp. in Denver, Colo.