Fostering TOD in CT: A Discussion with CT DOT Commissioner Jim Redeker

Connecticut is undergoing a transportation transformation, and Governor Malloy is leading the charge with the help and support of Department of Transportation Commissioner Jim Redeker. “Governor Malloy is deeply committed to transportation as an investment in Connecticut’s infrastructure,” says Commissioner Redeker.

Stemming from the Governor’s experience as the Mayor of Stamford,[1] Governor Malloy has a grasp of the importance of transportation infrastructure and Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) to the future of Connecticut according to the Commissioner according to the Commissioner. The Governor clearly sees the connection between transportation, the state’s economic well-being and the quality of life for the state’s residents. Commissioner Redeker explains: “Finding smart, practical ways to connect housing and employment centers to transportation is an important initiative of the Governor’s administration and serves a critical step to growing the state’s economy and making Connecticut a more vibrant place to work and live. The projects that we’re supporting will help these towns and surrounding regions take tangible steps in making their communities more walkable, more accessible, and more attractive to residents and employers alike.”[2]

Commissioner Redeker further notes, “A hallmark of the Malloy administration has been cooperation across the different functional entities that typically didn’t work together.” Indeed, Governor Malloy has worked to integrate the efforts of the various state departments responsible for economic development and transportation initiatives (namely, the Departments of Economic Development, Transportation, and Energy and Environmental Protection).[3] The goal of this integration is to change the way that Connecticut engages in economic growth, development and infrastructure investment. The three departments meet monthly to coordinate priorities, and one key focus is to drive the TOD agenda. In the course of their work together, the commissioners, known as the “Three Amigos,” have focused on a common agenda that has smoother project development and expedited permitting processes between the Departments of Transportation and Energy and Environmental Protection, speeding development projects across the state.

Another facet of Governor Malloy’s commitment to TOD is his belief in the power of TOD planning grants and financing to spur projects. In October 2011, the state invested $5 million in a statewide planning grant program to facilitate TOD development at the municipal level. The money, awarded to 11 different municipalities, funded planning initiatives, economic analyses, or the adoption of TOD-supportive zoning.[4] Then on April 30 2014, the Governor announced the creation of a $15 million TOD fund that will “create jobs, reduce congestion by encouraging mass transit ridership, build new affordable housing in walkable communities near transit and improve [the state’s] quality of life.”[5]  Specifically, this fund will support financing for TOD projects along both the CTfastrak and New Haven-Hartford-Springfield transit corridors, described below. The state and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) are each contributing $1 million along with $13 million of private capital provided by LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Connecticut, who will also serve as the fund manager.[6]

As the Commissioner notes: “There’s far more than just transit ridership potential. While TOD is relatively new in Connecticut, every one of the towns in the corridors has embraced smart growth and development. The energy level and excitement about the potential of TOD is palpable, as the State is targeting investments to sustain and accelerate economic growth.”

This excitement extends to Connecticut’s commitment to both transit infrastructure and TOD: the CTfastrak Bus Rapid Transit (“BRT”) line. CTfastrak is currently under construction and TOD development is already occurring. Once complete, the project, the first BRT system in Connecticut, will serve as a major regional transit system in central Connecticut. Construction on the project began in 2012 and Commissioner Redeker expects service to begin in March 2015.

The CTfastrak corridor is significant as an infrastructure tool for revitalizing local economies.[7] It’s an ideal location for TOD growth and investment. As Commissioner Redeker explains: “TOD functions best with jobs in education, knowledge, and healthcare located nearby. Sixty-one percent of all jobs in the corridor are TOD-supportive, similar to other successful corridors such as Charlotte [North Carolina]. This is a unique corridor to connect jobs and development.”

As part of the CTfastrak TOD strategy, the DOT has “identified each of the station areas in terms of their market strengths and station-area conditions and identified strategies for each station,” Commissioner Redeker explains. Hartford is a good example of the approach to housing. Investments in housing reuse existing commercial space creating density in proximity to stations, and most of those stations have high-density employment centers. In addition, there are three hospitals and three colleges/universities on the line. These serve as “anchor institutions” for development. The state also owns office space in the areas, so there is both public and private development taking place around the stations.

Following this strategy, several TOD projects are already under construction with more in the discussion and planning phase. For example, a potential mixed-use development project has been proposed for the Cedar Street Station in Newington, and Commissioner Redeker notes that the interest is so high that the department “can’t keep up with TOD interest.” In Hartford, developments are springing up near the terminal including a $50 million mixed-use project planned for Pearl Street, a $22 million mixed-use renovation of a former hotel on Constitution Plaza, and an $80 million residential high rise at 777 Main Street.[8] There are also several mixed-use projects underway near the New Britain station.[9]

CTfastrak includes other elements that support TOD. CTfastrak will feature dedicated bike racks at stations, on-board bike racks on each bus[10] and features a five-mile pedestrian and cyclist trail that runs alongside part of the BRT alignment.  CTfastrak will link to a number of local bus routes, circulator routes, express bus routes and rail lines systems, connecting passengers across the region.[11] [12]

CTfastrak is not the only ambitious project underway in Connecticut with significant TOD potential.  The New Haven-Springfield high-speed rail line presents significant opportunities for TOD. The line is expected to begin service in 2016.[13]  Intercity service to New York City with higher speed trains will be expanded, along with a new commuter rail service between Springfield and New Haven, providing further opportunities for economic development.  The state is covering 42% of the construction cost, because Governor Malloy sees the power of investment in transportation infrastructure and service.[14]

“This is an opportunity to shape these corridors.” Commissioner Redeker says. This vision from the Governor and the Commissioner is what’s helping move Connecticut forward. For more information on CTfastrak, visit http://www.ctfastrak.com/; for New Haven-Hartford-Springfield, visit http://www.nhhsrail.com; and for the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.ct.gov/dot


[1] As Commissioner Redeker notes, since Stamford’s success as a transportation hub is demonstrated by the fact that “more people commute into Stamford than out of it for work,” evidence of the powerful impact transportation and TOD can have on a local economy.

[2] CTfastrak, Sparking New Investment, Transit Oriented Development Plans, http://www.ctfastrak.com/news/special-features/17-special-features/74-sparking-new-investment-transit-oriented-development-plans-sf.

[3] Jan Ellen Spiegel, The CT Mirror, A Push for Transit Oriented Development, But In What Direction?, February 13, 2012, http://www.ctmirror.org/story/15225/push-transit-oriented-development-what-direction.

[4] Press Release, Malloy Administration Approves $5 Million for Local ‘Transit-Oriented Development’ Projects, October 13, 2011, available at http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?A=4010&Q=488506.

[5] Press Release, Governor Malloy Announces Fund to Spur Economic Growth and Transit Oriented Development Along Expanding Connecticut Transportation Corridors, April 30, 2014, available at http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?Q=544134&A=4010.

[6] Id.

[7] Scott Whipple, Some Say CTfastrak Will Be First Step to City’s Renewal, New Britain Herald, May 4, 2013, http://www.newbritainherald.com/articles/2013/05/04/news/doc5185bc9280b41550650851.txt.

[8] CTfastrak, Sparking New Investment, Transit Oriented Development Plans, http://www.ctfastrak.com/news/special-features/17-special-features/74-sparking-new-investment-transit-oriented-development-plans-sf.

[9] Ryan Lynch, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, Connecticut Busway Already Leading to Investment Close to Stations, April 17, 2012, http://blog.tstc.org/2012/04/17/connecticut-busway-already-leading-to-investment-close-to-stations/.

[10] Connecticut Department of Transportation, Press Release, New Britain-Hartford Busway Project Approved to Receive $275 Million in Federal Transit Funds, at 2, November 21, 2011, available at http://www.ctfastrak.com/documents/Busway_Media_Kit_November-21-2011_Final.pdf.

[11] CTfastrak, Bus Rapid Transit Map, available at http://www.ctfastrak.com/ctbusway/src/index.html.

[12] Connecticut Department of Transportation, Press Release, New Britain-Hartford Busway Project Approved to Receive $275 Million in Federal Transit Funds, at 3, November 21, 2011, available at http://www.ctfastrak.com/documents/Busway_Media_Kit_November-21-2011_Final.pdf.

[13] New Haven-Hartford-Springfield Rail Program, Frequently Asked Questions, http://www.nhhsrail.com/pdfs/nhhs_faqsfactsheet.pdf.

[14] The 42% statistic was provided by Commissioner Redeker during an interview with TOD Line.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *