William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review


During the early and mid-twentieth century the automobile captured the imagination of the American public. Superhighways, which were the vision, became the reality with the promise of speedy and safe travel. During this visioning, little attention was given to the impacts the highway system would have on urban America. Of course, by the end of the century the impacts were quite clear and distressing. Traffic congestion and air pollution became, and now are, among the most challenging aspects of life in American cities. In contemplating measures to alleviate the negative effects of these twin challenges, federal, state, and local agencies, encouraged by the environmental movement and transit advocacy, have promoted transit-oriented development (“TOD”) as a potential remedy. Paralleling efforts in foreign cities like Munich and Singapore, U.S. cities including Denver, Atlanta, Indianapolis, San Diego, and Somerville (MA) have all invested themselves in urban development projects built at public transit nodes aimed at building walkable, bikeable communities that provide mobility from home to work and recreational sites without the use of automobiles. In the process, TOD has had to deal with its own set of issues from funding and value capture to zoning and low-income housing. This Article provides an in-depth study of five American and two international TOD projects in an attempt to discover the variety among approaches to TOD and some of the issues TOD raises.