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Texas Cities See Mass Transit as a Path to Economic Development

Dallas and Houston's expanding light rail systems are helping boost economic development as new commercial and residential development sprouts up around transit stations.
October 19, 2015, 7am PDT | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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Roy Luck

PBS Newshour looks at the growth of light rail systems in Texas, which is luring some drivers from their cars in the sprawling cities of Dallas and Houston. And while the reduction of drivers is a good thing, the cities are also focusing on the economic benefits of transit oriented development that is popping up around new light rail stations.

Reporter Karla Murthy spoke with developer Walt Mountford who is building a large mixed-use project adjacent to a transit station in the Dallas suburb of Richardson. Mountford notes that this type of development, placing restaurants, offices, and hotels adjacent to the light rail station makes the employers located in the development more attractive to young workers.

Houston urban planner and Metro board member Christof Spieler tells Murthy that the introduction of the light rail system has been a boon to Downtown Houston.

"KARLA MURTHY: He believes light rail has been a catalyst to Downtown development, with $8 billion of projects along a seven and a half-mile stretch of track.

For example, look at the neighborhood of Midtown in the heart of Houston. Across from the light rail station there’s a mixed-use development under construction with 363 apartments and 30,000 square feet of retail space.

CHRISTOF SPIELER: This isn’t some empty field on the outskirts of town that gets a new development. It’s a neighborhood like this. We’re seeing a real shift in the kind of places people want to live in. Neighborhoods that have not just homes but places to eat and places to shop are fun to live in. I mean, there’s a real change in the attitude toward cities."

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Published on Sunday, October 11, 2015 in PBS NewsHour
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