Economy & Business
9:23 pm
Fri February 8, 2013

Pittsburgh & Allegheny Co. Primed For Transit-Oriented Development

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) can spur economic, environmental, and access benefits for the Pittsburgh region.

That's one of the findings of a yearlong study, released by the Center for Transit-Oriented Development (CTOD), into the potential for transit-oriented development in Allegheny County. 

The study reported what is needed to support TOD in Pittsburgh, including new sources of funding for smaller scale infrastructure improvements such as pedestrian pathways and signage to help link the stations to nearby communities. It also identifies priority areas for TOD investments out of 100 stations in the rail, busway, and incline transit network, based on the readiness of those stations to be transformed into walkable, transit supportive communities.

The study prioritizes stations based on three types of investments: infrastructure, new development, and building the capacity of communities, which is a specialty of the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group and its GoBurgh initiative.

Abigail Thorne-Lyman, Director of CTOD, said that the layout of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County makes it one of the more walkable and transit friendly cities.

“And a lot of Pittsburgh, because of the time period in which Pittsburgh and a lot of other communities within Allegheny County were developed, are already transit-oriented, they’re already walk-able places. They’re places where people can have transportation choices, and what we’re looking to do is to better leverage the transit network, to really truly, I mean there are probably people who live in walk-able communities but still have to drive to work, and we want to make that less of a reality.”

Thorne-Lyman also proposed transit-oriented districts, which are neighborhoods with transportation choices.

“…We’re not trying to force people out of their cars, we’re trying to give them as many options as possible. If you still want to drive to work, you’re welcome to do so, but maybe you can live with one less car ‘cause you can walk your kid to daycare. So safe, comfortable streets, bike lanes, predictable buses, that get you where you want to go.”

According to Thorne-Lyman, the number one reason regions are pursuing TOD is because of economic development and  quality of life arguments that if you create a nice place to live, you can attract a skilled labor force.

“Like the interest of the millennials for example, you see so many articles about the millennials and then so many articles about retiring baby boomers - it attracts people to live in your place; and that attracts employers who are looking for people to work in their businesses. So, the shear number of regions where we’ve gone and worked have said we’re doing this for economic development reasons is really astounding.”

The CTOD report, "Transit-Oriented Development Typology Strategy for Allegheny County," was commissioned by the Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group under the auspices of its GoBurgh initiative and funded by the Heinz Endowments.