Title: Transit Oriented Joint Development Opportunities
Phase(s): Preliminary Engineering
Date: April 4, 1997
The 7.5 mile Tasman West Light Rail Project in San Jose, California, has strong local support. The light rail system extension passes through the cities of Mountain View, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, and San Jose and the heart of Silicon Valley. A second extension, the 5.0 mile Tasman East Light Rail Project passes through the cities of Milpitas and San Jose and is also in an expanding area of the Silicon Valley. A host of participating state and federal agencies and private companies are involved in both light rail extensions.
The Santa Clara County Transit District (SCCTD) locally known as the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (or VTA), aggressively pursues joint development opportunities to reduce the cost of their system expansions, further involve the local cities, participating agencies and private enterprises to promote transit-oriented development (TOD) and enhance their role as a project stakeholder.
The VTA and their consultant design and program management staff recognized joint development opportunities during the preliminary design and worked closely with local cities, state and federal agencies, two railroads and private enterprises to create and incorporate a variety of joint development elements into the project. Some of the joint development items included shared use of a freight railroad right-of-way to permit continued freight rail operations, shared use of a public agency commuter railroad right-of-way permitting the light rail system to feed passengers to the commuter rail system, development of a joint intermodal station to serve the light rail and commuter railroad and improve the station area which was located in the heart of a local town, addition of new stations to serve large private sector business enterprises, incorporating an art program which focused on Silicon Valley products, incorporating a variety improvements desired by adjacent property owners, local cities, state and federal agencies into the transit construction program.
In response to the future light rail line, the cities and private developers have pursued TOD plans and projects which further enhance the transit system and strengthen transit's ties to the community. Examples include the adoption of a transit-supportive land use plan for the area adjacent to the intermodal station, application of a transit-overlay zone to allow higher intensity industrial/office development adjacent to light rail stations, and construction of high-density residential projects within walking distance of light rail. To further promote TOD, VTA developed concept plans for three station areas as a resource to the cities.
Although the light rail extensions were strongly supported locally, there were legal challenges relating to the percentage of votes needed to pass the Measure A tax, a simple majority (which passed the initiative) vs. two thirds. Throughout the delays and uncertainty of obtaining funding, all project participants maintained a "can-do attitude" and continued to progress final design.
2. The Lesson
Joint development does not always result in projects which produce revenue streams for the participants. It is more likely that light rail transit joint development projects involve the cooperation and participation of all the project stakeholders which result in a transit system that enhances the quality of life, creates a more livable community, reduces the cost of the project, and reduces construction impacts via concurrent construction programs.
Open communication between project stakeholders who work closely together and are focused can result in light rail transit system which serves the public from far more than a transit perspective.
Additionally, cooperation and participation of all the project stakeholders in joint development items strengthens the project support and enhances the public perception of strong public leadership and good government.
An aggressive joint development policy supported by strong and open communications can be utilized by all transit agencies but is especially important in new starts and extensions to existing systems.