A new report by SPUR, the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, focuses on high-speed rail's ability to encourage more compact land use in California around the 25 proposed stations. The authors emphasize that in order for high-speed rail to reach its maximum potential, the state and the 25 municipalities must support forward-thinking land-use planning and development programs that allow all of the benefits of HSR to be fully realized. The key is to catalyze private investment in areas surrounding the stations.
Download the full report.
Download the full report.
In Sacramento, planning is well underway at Valley Station (above picture), an intermodal hub with connections to Amtrak, intercity buses, light rail, and eventually high-speed rail. The 240-acre station area is expected to become one of the largest transit-oriented developments in the country, featuring 12,000 housing units, office space for 19,000 jobs, a Railroad Museum and a thriving retail district, the report says.
"The alternative to high-speed rail isn't just the absence of a train," writes Egon Terplan, the Director of Regional Planning at SPUR. "It is more highways and new runways; congested roads and crowded skies. The cost of this piecemeal approach would likely be more than the high-speed rail system itself."
The cost of building high-speed rail is certainly high - an estimated annual $1.5 billion over the next ten years - however, Californians continue to show strong support for it. California, like many other states around the country pursuing high-speed rail, understands that the financial and environmental costs of not completing the project are likely higher than the project costs.
The report cites the following seven opportunities of high-speed rail that are of particular importance to the 25 communities in California with proposed stations:
SPUR envisions compact, walkable communities with significant employment, shops, and other destinations immediately surrounding each station. To accomplish all of this, municipalities must develop plans that are both written and implemented well, and the state must contribute financial support. "But this paper also argues that the land-use benefits of high-speed rail reach much farther than the immediate station area," the authors say. "In short, high-speed rail should result in a more centered development pattern and should not induce greater sprawl at the urban edges ... The goal should be to change the exurban growth pattern, for a more sustainable California."