TOD vs. Parking for High-Speed Rail Stations

Secretary Ray LaHood is promoting livable communities, but the Wisconsin Department of Transportation insists that Madison's new Amtrak station should be located on the edge of town next to a big parking lot at the airport.

"The argument over where Madison, Wisconsin's new Amtrak station should be located seems straight out of the 1970s, with WisDOT ignoring over 25 years of success in planning for transit-oriented development, and instead opting for an easy site at the Dane County airport that offers a big parking lot, but no pedestrian or bicycle access, and only a single bus route. The concept hangs its hat on the limited demand for plane-to-train transfers, calling it multi-modal, while ignoring the more important modes that would actually serve Madison residents and visitors to the city."

Thanks to Barry Gore

Full Story: Advocates make last-minute pitch to site Amtrak depot on isthmus



False Dichotomy, etc.

I think it's a false dichotomy to say "TOD versus Parking". The most effective TODs have parking (but it's structured, so it wastes less space, and often for a fee, so drivers bear their own parking cost).

It seems like ideally, the station would be located closer to downtown, but that would cause delay and more local expense. I'm not familiar with the city, but it seems like the airport site could be enhanced with dense mixed-use development and better local transit service/bike infrastructure over time (with the will to do so).

Reality not False Dichotomy

The most effective TODs maximize pedestrian access to the station, that is the whole point of the concept. Access by walking is encouraged by a attention to likely routes and enhancement of the public realm, and by locating stations within the urban context and planning for future redevelopment to a higher density of office and residential uses. Parking has a place in mixed-use development, but is ancillary to TOD. As John Norquist of CNU noted in his endorsement of Yahara Station: Grand Central Station in New York does not have any parking at all. Neither does Union Station in Chicago. High speed rail stations must be located within cities, not shunted to the outskirts because parking is the primary criteria for the implementing transportation agency.

President Obama's concept for high speed rail clearly states that the service is to be 'city center to city center' and even mentions that it precludes the necessity to go out to an airport to make intercity trips. In the actual context of Madison, the airport sits in and next to a large wetland, with a long access road and no connections to the street grid. All airports have height restrictions. It is not the right location for new development of any kind.

Yahara Station is on the same mainline track as the airport station. Trips stopping at Yahara Station would actually be shorter in distance and time when coming from Milwaukee, and no time would be lost on the route to St. Paul.

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