Friday, May 20, 2016

Lessons from Denver's transit triumph

My latest installment for POLITICO Magazine's "What Works" series posted last night, and it's on Denver's ambitious, nearly-completed effort to build a region-wide rail transit system in what has been a fast growing, auto-dependent city.

Denver did a number of remarkable things to make it happen: foster cooperation across a vast metropolitan region, convince a skeptical public to increase taxes to build it, and when budget and expense forecasts collapsed in the face of the 2007-2008 financial collapse, create the nation's first large-scale transit public-private partnership to get much of the system built.

But the biggest lesson learned: the greatest benefit of the system isn't relieving traffic congestion, it's the revolution in land use the stations and lines catalyze. Denver had to discover this along the way, but other cities contemplating major expansions can take advantage of what they learned.

Thanks to Colorado Public Radio's "Colorado Matters" for having me on the program yesterday, hours before the piece was even published. You can hear the interview online here.

This is my third "What Works" piece as a POLITICO Magazine contributing editor. The others were on how Des Moines went from dull to cool and how Manchester, New Hampshire turned its vast 19th century millyard to spinning high-tech gold. Where am I off to next? Hint: it's where Greater Appalachia once spread over "the Rhine."

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