Prospering in Place: Making the Link Between Jobs, Development, and Transit a Reality
In July, I was a panelist for “Transportation: The Missing Link for your Clients” at the West Suburban Jobs Council in DuPage County. I, along with representatives from three other organizations, presented ideas to address the problem of transportation, the most difficult barrier to overcome for low-income job seekers in the area. Solutions to this transportation deficiency can be found in the plans outlined in CNT’s report, Prospering in Place.
Prospering in Place links jobs, development, and transit to spur Chicago’s economy, and can be broken into three categories: transit oriented development (TOD), cargo oriented development (COD), and employment oriented transit. TOD uses mixed use development to help make areas more affordable to all income levels. COD, on the other hand, brings jobs to low-income areas by infilling unused or underused land areas. Employment oriented transit connects businesses to transit locations so that individuals without vehicles are not excluded from the job pool. In order to achieve the goals laid out in Prospering in Place, CNT has five recommendations that can be achieved with community support: prioritize development areas, create a regional sustainable communities initiative, align resources, find new resources, and create new funding mechanisms.
Establishing priority development areas for TOD, COD, and employment oriented transit can help reduce sprawl, keep people better connected to their jobs and homes, and create thriving local economies. Mirroring the federal partnership for sustainable communities is critical for economic growth, so CNT calls for directing $1 billion toward transportation to encourage development in these areas. With budgets tight at the local, state, and federal level it is important to ensure that investments support these development plans rather than derail them by building districts that only work for single-occupancy vehicles.
In order to help reach the funding requirements for these projects, Chicago and its surrounding areas should utilize new revenue streams. In Los Angeles, Denver, the Twin Cities, and most recently in three regions of Georgia, citizens elected to tax themselves in order to reach their transportation goals in a timely and efficient manner. These types of innovative revenue streams could be implemented here in Chicago to help make Prospering in Place a reality. Finally, enacting the Brownfield Redevelopment and Intermodal Promotion Act by the General Assembly and the Land Bank Legislation in Cook County, both necessary legislative components, is essential to making this type of development affordable.
With your help, we transform these recommendations from report to reality. Talk with your local government and your legislators and let them know that you support development that encourages transit use and redevelopment of vacant properties. Discuss with your co-workers the benefits of connecting the workplace to a transit stop. And support initiatives that will provide a revenue source for transit to allow Chicago’s transportation system to meet the needs of current and future generations.