Monday, March 30, 2009

(less than) superTRAINS

by Armadillo Joe

In an example of public policy FAIL, the braintrust at NJ Transit has decided that extensions to some of their existing rail lines should follow several major freeways in the state.

Nice try, but missing the point:
NJ-1 would run down the median of Route 42 and the Atlantic City Expressway to Williamstown. NJ-2 would run down the median of Route 55 to Glassboro. Both of these alignments may or may not relieve congestion along these highways, but they would almost certainly have another, less desirable impact -- increasing pressure to convert open space and fertile farmland into sprawling development, much of it in environmentally sensitive areas.

Only NJ-3, which would run along an established rail line through the center of several historic Gloucester County towns, along the Conrail right-of-way, would be a win-win for the region and its residents. Not only would this routing relieve traffic congestion on area highways, but it would promote the revitalization of these historic centers by encouraging walkable, mixed-use development around the stations.
Stuck in the box, very car-centric thinking. Giving people who live in sprawling suburbs train lines won't make them use them. It will simply create more snarl around the stations as car drivers hunt for parking. The idea is not to encourage continued use of existing suburban car-centric and ecologically destructive sprawl, but to give older, neglected areas with solidly built, older housing stock and supporting commercial (and walkable) infrastructure better transportation options.

The six-decade long Great National Build-Out has to stop. The outward growth of cities must cease so that we can backfill the land-use we've already enacted. Revitalizing trains with infrastructure funds and discouraging car use with fees and tolls is the only way to do this.

(H/T Atrios)

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