Does TOD Create More Traffic?

In Boston, the MBTA and city planners are weighing the benefits and drawbacks of creating transit-oriented development along a major traffic corridor.

"Can a development that adds scores of cars into an already congested area be 'smart growth?'

That is the question looming over a plan to add 700 units of housing and other buildings in a tight configuration around the Forest Hills rail and bus station in Jamaica Plain.

The Forest Hills project is the largest so-called transit-oriented development yet undertaken by the MBTA in the Boston area. Such smart-growth projects are densely packed, mixed-use complexes built atop or near transit stations - whether suburban commuter rail stops or city MBTA stations - and promoted as an antidote to sprawl, congestion, and other attendant ills of the automobile age."

Yet outside its identity as a transit hub, Forest Hills is also a major chokepoint for traffic crossing the city in multiple directions, as well for commuters who drive to the station. Congestion on the two constricted main roads is a given at many times of the week. Traffic studies conducted as part of the planning process show that during the morning rush hour, more than 1,200 vehicles pass the station on Hyde Park Avenue heading toward Boston - about the same volume of traffic on Beacon Street as it approaches Kenmore Square.

Now add to that not just hundreds of new residents, but office workers at new commercial properties within the development, as well as shoppers drawn by new retail offerings, and there is a danger the Forest Hills development will make congestion worse.

"This is the most complicated aspect of this," said John Dalzell, project manager of the Forest Hills project for the Boston Redevelopment Authority, which spearheaded the planning process."

Thanks to Reconnecting America

Full Story: Question of congestion



Congestion as compared to what?

Any development will increase congestion in its immediate area; the amount depends partially on whether transit and walkability are part of the development.
Some developments have major regional congestion impacts as well.
This article poses the congestion question as though the alternative to this development is no development, instead of development somewhere else.
Looking at site-area impacts and ignoring community and regional impacts is not likely to result in less traffic congestion.

The substance behind TOD

When considering TOD's, we have to get away from the trend and understand the meaning behind TOD's - areas of residence close to transit, amenities, and jobs. The purpose of TOD is to not rely on cars, but to create cities independent of cars. So, to say that TOD's are creating more congestion is just not thinking of the development with enough foresight. Maybe TOD's aren't meant to be cited in every city in America.

Who cares if it creates more traffic?

Who cares, if you're taking the T anyway?

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