New Report Documents the Impacts of FasTracks on Transit Oriented Development and Regional Growth Patterns:

Environment Colorado

LAKEWOOD—A new report released today at the Federal Center by two nonprofit groups concluded that FasTracks would have a much larger impact on traffic than previously estimated when changes in regional land use patterns associated with transit oriented development (TOD) are factored in. Previous analysis by the Denver Regional Council of Governments (DRCOG) only considered the direct impacts of FasTracks on increasing transit ridership whereas the new report takes into account changes in transportation patterns caused by increased numbers of mixed urban centers associated with transit oriented development. The report was released at a news conference held at the Cold Spring park-n-Ride, which is one of 57 station stops under FasTracks and the site of large scale potential transit oriented development. 

Whereas previous projections that did not factor in land use changes associated with development near station stops had estimated a reduction of 474,000 vehicle miles traveled each work day in the region under FasTracks, the report concluded that 2025 FasTracks would reduce daily vehicle travel by more than 2.5 million miles each work day, five times the previous projection. The findings of the report were based on an earlier analysis of the impact of urban centers on travel demand conducted by DRCOG as well as from similar decentralized urban center trends in regions around the country.

“Transit stations would reduce traffic by encouraging vibrant village centers throughout the region where people could shop, dine or be entertained without having to drive everywhere,” said co-author Rich McClintock, program director of the Livable Communities Support Center, a program of Civic Results. “This report shows that FasTracks would encourage the kind of smart growth needed to keep the Denver region livable,” he added.

““FasTracks will reduce traffic—not only as more people choose transit, but also as station areas become urban centers where people don’t have to drive as far or as often to get where they are going,’” said report co-author Elena Nunez, transportation advocate for Environment Colorado Research and Policy Center.

Other key findings of “Creating Livable Communities Through Transit” report included the following:

– Despite the recent downturn in the economy, the state demographer estimated that the Denver region’s population is projected to increase from an estimated 2.5 million people today to more than 3.7 million by 2030, an increase of 48 percent.

– FasTracks would create opportunities for transit oriented communities at more than 50 new station areas throughout the region, 18 of which would be more than 10 acres in size. 

– Transit oriented development would reduce the overall growth in the amount of vehicle travel in the Denver region by at least 2.5 million vehicle miles every workday by 2025, more than five times the savings of transit mode share alone.

– TOD would help the region realize its MetroVision 2030 plan, saving valuable land and open space. Each urban center would save over 960 acres of land as a result of more compact development patterns, lowering the costs of expanded public infrastructure. 

– TOD would significantly raise property values for current residents, small business owners and others within __ miles of the stations. 

– Transit-oriented communities would offer Denver metro area residents new options for neighborhoods, shopping, working and lifestyle choices even before the transit lines are completed. 

– There is strong consumer and worker market demand for creating more transit oriented communities. A recent study by the Center for Transit Oriented Development found that an estimated 88,000 households in the region would choose housing within _ miles of transit by 2025.

The news conference also featured additional comments by TOD experts and local officials regarding the impact of transit oriented development on the region’s livability, including examples along the West Corridor.

Marilee Utter, President of the Colorado District Council of the Urban Land Institute, said “Experience from cities around the world shows us that comprehensive transit systems do make a world of difference: People do make behavioral changes. Development patterns do focus. The environment does improve. Congestion is reduced. I can think of no other investment we could make that would better position the metro area for long term economic viability.”

The Federal Center stop would be located within an 670 acre area that is now the largest concentration of federal employees outside of Washington D.C. Carol Garton, Economic Development Director for Lakewood, stated that “having a rail station at the Federal Center represents a tremendous opportunity for the western part of the metro Denver region to recycle land rather than having to keep expanding at the urban edge.”