April 17, 2009

Phoenix, Mesa and Valley Metro Rail receive EPA TOD assistance

Phoenix, Mesa, and Valley Metro Rail are getting assistance from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop a regional strategy that will encourage compact, mixed-use and transit-oriented development (TOD).

A team of national experts, assembled by the Smart Growth Program at the EPA, has developed options designed to promote TOD along Phoenix’s new light-rail line in ways that are also consistent with Arizona’s statewide private property rights act, Proposition 207.

Staff from EPA were in Phoenix this week to present the team’s analysis at meetings with the Phoenix city council, municipal staff and a statewide smart growth interagency committee. There will also be a public workshop to present these ideas to developers and property owners.

If implemented, the options are expected to alleviate congestion on heavily traveled commuter corridors and help create more walkable, distinctive neighborhoods. Investment in development in conjunction with the rail line is expected to yield substantial environmental benefits by helping reduce the projected increase in air pollution as the area’s population grows.

The 18-month project began in 2007 when the city of Phoenix and its partners, Valley Metro Rail and the city of Mesa, sought assistance through EPA’s Smart Growth Implementation Assistance program. EPA’s assistance included an assessment of how tools and incentives to promote TOD could work within the context of Proposition 207, and a summary of the financial benefits of transit-oriented development to local stakeholders, including developers and property owners.

A final report that incorporates input from these meetings and next steps for implementation is expected to be delivered to the local team by June 2009.

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