Promoting development near transit stations would reduce pollution and preserve forests and farmland, according to a new report released today by Environment Maryland, Building Maryland’s Future: The Potential of Transit-Friendly Neighborhoods to Protect Open Space and Reduce Global Warming Pollution. Supporters of smart growth gathered at the site of a major proposed development in the middle of Baltimore to call for aggressive promotion of transit-oriented development.
“It’s time to build housing and shops for the many people who want to live in smart growth settings,” said Environment Maryland State Director Brad Heavner. “Building vibrant communities around transit stations is crucial for reducing emissions and preserving valuable natural areas.”
A transit-heavy approach to development in Maryland would result in 740,000 tons less global warming pollution going into the atmosphere, according to the report. This is equivalent to taking 140,000 of today’s cars off the road.
Maryland’s transportation sector currently contributes 30 percent of the state’s total greenhouse gas emissions, so reducing the need for people to get in their cars for daily tasks is essential for the state to meet its pollution reduction goals.
The report found that a residential or commercial space can have a footprint up to 90 percent smaller in a transit-centered community compared to the same square footage in a sprawling development.
Maryland’s population is projected to grow by nearly 1 million residents between 2010 and 2030. If the state continues its current development patterns, this will produce 3 million tons of additions global warming pollution annually. A transit-focused development pattern would reduce emissions from these new residents by 22.5 percent. This would also save consumers $300 million per year at the gas pump.
“The Governor understands that transit-oriented development is essential to the success of the state’s transportation system, and that is why he sponsored legislation in 2008 that made TOD a ‘transportation purpose’ under the laws of this state, the first in the nation to do so,” said Christopher Patusky, Director of the Office of Real Estate of the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“Transit-oriented development has created many opportunities for neighborhoods and communities across this country and the case would be the same for Maryland and its cities such as Baltimore,” said Mel Freeman, Executive Director of the Citizens Planning and Housing Association. “TOD in Baltimore would bring businesses and employment opportunities to neighborhoods that have historically been underserved.”
“Central Maryland finds itself at a turning point,” said Otis Rolley, III, President of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance. “The continuing and expanding prosperity of the region will rely on our ability to address congestion and environmental impacts while linking jobs and housing and creating the types of neighborhoods in which people will want to live. TOD is a solution where everybody wins.”
“Transit-oriented development takes advantage of the great transit facilities we have across the state, makes it easier and more convenient for people to get out of their cars, helps improve our air quality, and adds to the vitality of our neighborhoods,” said Richard Josephson, Director of Planning Services for the Maryland Department of Planning.