This edited article was first published on April 05, 2023 in the Duluth News Tribune.
Train stations are destinations that attract residents, entrepreneurs and visitors. Northern Lights Express (NLX) stations, with bus and paved trail connections, promise to create transit-oriented development, bringing prosperity to communities all along the proposed Twin Cities-to-Twin Ports NLX corridor.
Passenger train stations also encourage business and housing developments that increase the property values of entire neighborhoods. Sometimes the increased property values of existing structures and new developments surpass the cost of construction of entire passenger lines. Thus, NLX promises to be a wise investment, increasing the economies of Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin.
According to the American Public Transportation Association in Washington, D.C., in 2018, Americans took 9.9 billion trips on public transportation, an increase in ridership that, at least in the years leading up to the pandemic, surpassed the growth of the country’s population. Also, property values within 15-minute walks of public transportation average 42% higher than in neighborhoods without access to public transportation.
The Economic Case for Transit-Oriented Development
One example of development spurred by a rail project, of many across America, is the Metro Green Line along University Avenue in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The total project budget was $957 million. Funding was provided by federal, state and local sources. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, neighborhoods along the Green Line have experienced more than $3 billion in commercial and residential development. Also, within a half-mile distance of the line, more than 14,000 housing units have been constructed or are planned to be built.
Another example is a study documenting new construction near Dallas Area Rapid Transit light rail stations in Texas. The study demonstrates just how productive and important these stations are to the overall North Texas economy, generating billions of dollars in revenue, taxes and jobs. Researchers from the Economics Research Group at the University of North Texas reviewed 81 development projects completed within a quarter mile of the light rail stations with a total property value of $5.138 billion between 2016 and 2018.
Here in Minnesota, too, within the NLX corridor, stations promise to help create transit-oriented development. NLX is expected to generate $150 million in increased property values. That would increase state and local tax revenue by about $15 million in the first year of operation. This will create numerous economic and community benefits for businesses, individuals and families.
Top image courtesty of Jerry Huddleston/Flickr.