Monday, April 11, 2011
Urban Community Growth through Rail-Transit
In June 2009, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U. S. Department of Transportation (DOT) created the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, where one of the focuses is on transit-oriented development. According to the HUD website, in October 2010, through this partnership HUD announced they are awarding approximately $40 million in grants while DOT is awarding approximately $28 million. However, the United States government’s involvement in this initiative only follows both local non-governmental organizational and international progress.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) seeks to promote social well-being around the world. One of their initiatives is the International Transport Research Documentation (ITRD) which catalogs all the research and projects done related to transportation. In March 2010, the US Transportation Research Board finally joined the ITRD, which has been operating since the 1970’s. The European Transport Conference also presents papers on various transit-oriented developments around the world.
One example is in Dalian, China, where due to a population surge, mobility and accessibility rapidly declined just as in many other Chinese cities. This city worked to redevelop and enhance rail transportation to combat the overpopulation and resulting car transit congestion. The project focused on relocating the population from downtown, along the transit route in order to alleviate congestion and improve mobility. The city formed into the sections of “Central Town” and “New Town” and the geography of the area complicated traffic congestion. Implementing a rail-transit system to link these two areas, along with industrial parks and tourist centers, has reduced dependency on automobiles for the area. The rail system also allows Dalian to continue its growth. The rail transit system reduces pressure on the growing population due to an increasing economic growth. This allows the city to grow without choking on its own population due to increasing cars on the major highways.
The lessons learned from Dalian’s presentation in the 2007 European Transport Conference can be adapted and implemented in developing cities across the world. Certain factors that attribute to their successful project implementation lie in a state-owned land system and the project was only implemented across one city, so multiple city governments were not involved.
Photo courtesy of S Zhao, Dalian University of Technology, CN's report on "Rail transit oriented urban development in Dalian: towards a new urban form", 2007.