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The Impact of Transit Villages: One Reader’s Story

April 25, 2011

Downtown Metuchen. Source: PrudentialNewJersey.com

As readers of this blog know, the proposed Transportation Capital Plan for FY 2012 eliminates funding for the Transit Village program, which encourages quality transit-oriented development by making funding available to municipalities that meet certain criteria for planning and zoning around their transit station. The move has important policy implications for the NJDOT, which is increasingly retreating from its position as a leader in the 2000’s of linking land use and transportation. But it also has more personal impacts, as we were reminded recently when reader Karen passed along this anecdote about how she and her husband came to live in Metuchen:

“When my husband and I were looking to move to NJ, we used a specific criteria to screen possible communities.  We used a map of NJ to pinpoint possible places we’d look to buy a home – after moving from NYC.  It included:

  • Transit Villages
  • Walkable – with a sense of “place” and a “Main Street”
  • Commute time to NYC – ideally under one hour direct by train
  • A vibrant Jewish community (synagogues, etc)
  • Within proximity to a Trader Joe’s

Using that lens, we found Metuchen.  We’ve lived there six and a half years, and we LOVE it.  The compactness of town feels cozy – and we’ve made great friends through the local YMCA, the CSA, and the Friends of the Library.  Best of all, my husband walks to and from the train – it’s less than a half mile from our house.”

As attracting new jobs, residents and investment continues to be the main focus of this administration in Trenton, Karen’s story reminds us that one of the state’s main selling points has always been its collection of vibrant, walkable communities, something that the Transit Village program has helped foster. Let’s hope NJDOT Commissioner Jim Simpson fixes his “mistake” and restores funding for the program this year.

Do you have a smart growth story from your life that you’d like to share? If so we’d love to hear it. Send it us @ jcorbalis@njfuture.org; or send us a picture through our Smart Growth Photo Contest.

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