New Mass Transit May Lead to Walking Friendly Neighborhoods

The expansion of mass transit in Houston will do more than just move people from one location to another. It will also be the catalyst for new development. Rod Rice reports that there's an effort to make Houston residents and leaders see the full potential for that growth.
Jay Crossley with the Gulf Coast Institute and Rice University student Nick Elliot didn't just study the proposed new transit lines they traveled the routes and looked the areas around the lines and their proposed stations.

This is Jay Crossley:

"We figured out that within a quarter mile of these stations it's 13-square miles, which is a little more than half the size of Manhattan. The city of Houston is supposed to gain two-million people over the next 30-years. If you fit a million people into that 13-square miles it is less dense than Brooklyn."

And that Nick Elliot says would greatly reduce the city's carbon footprint, if areas along the transit lines are developed for mixed use.

"A mixed use development is a new project that has a combination of residences and jobs in an area with some other small scale, generally, commercial activities."

So that people can live and work and occupy their free time without using a car so much.

However, things that can hinder this kind of new development are existing city codes, like the one requiring buildings to be 25-feet back from the street.

"Part of the appropriate development is changing city codes just to allow the choice for urbanism in Houston. The current city code is basically a suburban code, things like building set back is basically set up so that you'll have a parking lot in front of your building. So, the city code could be changed just to allow things."

And urban growth will change as generations change. Developers build what people want and Crossley says studies have found that's generations "X" and "Y" have a different of where to live.

"And they're much more interested in lifestyle than in how big their yard is. We are not proposing that Houston suburban development will stop, but there are going to be many more people entering the wage-earners, wanting a different lifestyle here."

Crossley and Elliot say they want people to know more about what the new transit line will mean and what opportunities lie ahead for an ever growing Houston.

Bio photo of Rod Rice

Rod Rice

Local Anchor, Morning Edition

Rod Rice became fascinated with radio at an early age, while sitting on his Grandfather’s lap listening to his "programs" on the big Emerson Radio...