Transportation and development go hand in glove. Public investment in transportation infrastructure is a catalyst for new development. This has been true throughout history and is still true today. In fact, the Tenney-Lapham neighborhood began as a “streetcar suburb” when Madison extended light rail service from downtown out Johnson Street to Baldwin Street. But the streetcar system was abandoned and for many decades Madison focused its transportation policy on investing in automobile infrastructure – just like every city in the country. We are coming to understand that multi-modal transit systems are more sustainable and support a better quality of life for the long run. This is especially true for Madison because of the compressed geography of the isthmus.
For this reason, many cities around the country are reintroducing the development model called Transit-Oriented-Development. In this model increased density is built and expanded around transit infrastructure such as light rail, bus rapid transit, commuter rail and even bikeways. The key to achieving successful Transit-Oriented-Development is investing in the infrastructure. Transit infrastructure will attract and enable new infill density around it. New density without transit will attract more automobiles. The isthmus cannot afford nor survive the gridlock that would ensue. District 2 deserves better.
You can’t build the density first and hope that transit will follow. The City’s 2008 East Washington BUILD Plan states “The development potential indicated by the recommended land uses and bulk standards in th(is) plan cannot be achieved without a dramatic decrease in the percentage of employees, residents, and visitors to the area using personal automobiles.” The BUILD Plan goes on to say that “the City should commit to the development of a comprehensive multi-modal Isthmus Area Transportation Plan and Parking Strategy.”
No such plan has happened. However, the City has been actively working on a Madison Transportation Plan called Madison in Motion. I support this planning effort and through my positions on both the Transit and Parking Commission and the Pedestrian/Bicycle/Motor Vehicle Commission continue to advocate for a more balanced investment in multiple forms of transportation. I believe it is in the best interest of Madison and its neighborhoods that the City increase investment to promote more efficient and effective transportation options including transit, bike and walking. This is smart transportation planning and will pay off economically.