The Sentinel is at it again! More 19th Century solutions to our 21st Century traffic problems.
Town centers with shops, offices and homes could sprout near stations
How would you like to walk a few minutes to a train station and zip to work in an air-conditioned rail car -- and then return the same way? Once back in the neighborhood, you could walk to grocery stores, restaurants and businesses to run errands. Sound too good to be true? It could happen in Central Florida, where plans for a 61-mile commuter-rail system are moving toward reality. If transportation officials can cement a deal to have cities along the route help pay for the system and CSX Railroad agrees to sell the tracks to the state, then the region's first attempt at speedy mass transit could affect the way we grow. The project, which could cost as much as $500 million, could come together this summer. If planners take the right steps -- and so far they are off to a slow start -- the rail system could help spur self-contained, walkable neighborhoods around stations from DeBary to Orlando to Poinciana. Replete with grocery stores, drugstores, parks and restaurants, they'd be the kind of small communities that grew up around town squares in the era before interstate highways. In turn, the new approach to development could help reduce sprawl by anchoring more growth in a central transportation corridor running through the region. So-called smart growth that is focused around mass transit -- transit-oriented development, in planner lingo -- has happened in other communities around the nation. Many such ideas will pop up now that the price of gas is this high and the land is so scarce. Developers have to start planning smartly while they can. It sounds good to me. Wish Texas would try this instead of more super highways.