Thursday, April 19, 2018 | 2 a.m.
Great cities don’t happen accidentally—they’re the result of careful planning, coordination and strategic regional design.
Much of Southern Nevada’s development is focused on low-density, single-family homes and residential areas, further increasing the Valley’s suburban sprawl. But there are a few initiatives geared toward the redevelopment of urban areas, which are associated with a higher quality of life, more diverse economy, increased job opportunities and improved accessibility for residents. Southern Nevada Strong is one of these efforts and was created to encourage and sustain continued growth in our communities.
A component of this effort is transit-oriented development (TOD) that focuses on the economic benefits of implementing high-quality transportation in urban areas.
What is transit-oriented development?
TOD takes a holistic approach to urban design strategy by incorporating multiple facets of a community into one cohesive framework. TOD development includes transportation, housing, offices, retail and other amenities-—such as entertainment and mixed-use public spaces—and arranges them in dense, walkable areas. The overall goal is to connect places with a high concentration of people to efficient transit facilities.
In Las Vegas, the Maryland Parkway corridor is being looked at for a new, high-capacity transit option—a system that moves large amounts of people—which would be a key element to a TOD planning initiative.
Why is TOD important to Las Vegas?
Southern Nevada has more than 2.2 million residents, and the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority reports that we hosted 42 million visitors in 2017, adding further strain on public resources.
Creating dense, mixed-use areas would directly connect residents and visitors to entertainment and work by means other than personal vehicles. This would help balance our rising population numbers and transportation needs, while also helping maintain a competitive stance in the global tourism market.
• Cost efficient: According to the Regional Transportation Commission of Southern Nevada (RTC), households in suburban areas spend about 25 percent of their income on transportation, whereas households located in transit-rich neighborhoods spend 9 percent.
• Economic opportunity: TOD developments encourage economic diversity and competitiveness by creating mixed-use spaces for residents and visitors to linger, shop and converse, and are better equipped to withstand changes in the economic climate.
• Sustainable infrastructure: Compact, urban environments require sustainable and efficient infrastructure, including parking, protected bike paths and pedestrian walkways.
• Equitable TOD: While the economic impacts of successful TOD areas can be beneficial, they can also present challenges to low-income residents who risk being priced out of the area. Equitable TOD works to ensure that residents are protected from the higher cost of living in those communities.
• Reduced emissions: Efficient, multimodal transit options lessen dependence on cars, therefore reducing greenhouse gases.
• Reduced suburban sprawl: Suburban areas are typically low-density, car-oriented developments that encourage growth outward and tend to separate residences from employment and commercial business. Compact development in urban areas uses land in a more efficient way by growing upward.
• Multimodal transportation: Two or more means of transportation in a region is a significant piece of TOD framework and provides the community with more options, including mass transit, bike paths, safe walkable areas and cars.
• Health: Walking, biking and using public transportation encourage healthy lifestyle practices by making it more efficient to travel in an active fashion.
• Improved quality of life: Active public spaces, such as those created around TOD stations, increase opportunities for community events, social interaction and engagement. They also improve convenience for residents and workers nearby.
Did you know?
According to the U.S. Census, about 35 percent of Clark County’s population is below the age of 16 or over 65. These age groups are less likely to use/own a personal vehicle and are most dependent on other transportation options.