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Released: 4/24/2007 

DRPA/PATCO Embark on TOD Strategy in Collingswood, NJ

Corzine Administration to Announce Potential for “Smart Growth” Transit Oriented Development in South Jersey Camden, NJ April 24, 2007 - The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and The Port Authority Transit Corporation (PATCO) announced a partnership to examine the possibilities of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) along the agency's PATCO rail line. A master plan for seven of the PATCO stations commissioned by the Authority has shown that a TOD not only is feasible, but it makes good economic sense while improving the environment. Today, New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin, DRPA/PATCO and the Collingswood officials discussed the potential for a transit village adjacent to the downtown Collingswood PATCO station. DRPA/PATCO and Collingswood will engage the public for its input and feedback as it works to advance the project from the current conceptual stage to reality. The Collingswood TOD may include housing, commercial development and additional parking centered around a high quality train system that encourages public transport use. A master plan was developed for DRPA/PATCO in 2005 and 2006 by Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC to examine the viability of maximizing the agency's real estate at its six suburban PATCO stations and the Ferry Avenue station in Camden. The study was conceived by the Authority's New Jersey commissioners and funded by their regional development fund. “With this announcement, DRPA/PATCO has demonstrated that it is committed to a smart, responsible and forward-thinking approach to economic development in southern New Jersey,” said New Jersey Department of Community Affairs Commissioner Susan Bass Levin. “The strategy is consistent with the Corzine Administration's “Smart Growth” agenda by advancing economic development along transit lines, improving inter-modal passenger connections, enhancing alternative transportation economic choices and increasing public transit ridership.” Development talks will focus on areas along North Atlantic Avenue, directly around PATCO's Collingswood station. The Borough is considering more residential and commercial buildings and a parking garage to help address the area's current parking situation. New Jersey Smart Growth initiatives encourage growth on already developed land rather than clearing new areas so work will take place over much of the current PATCO station parking area, making it necessary to replace and increase spaces. In researching the viability and potential effectiveness of TOD's at PATCO stations, DRPA/PATCO sought input from the host community's elected leadership and stakeholders. The objective was to gauge each community's interest in developing its PATCO parking lots and to ensure that any development that may occur is consistent with the host community's development plans. “At DRPA/PATCO, we are committed to increasing ridership on PATCO and to maximizing the economic return on our assets,” said Jeffrey L. Nash, Vice Chairman of the DRPA/PATCO. “By adopting and implementing this strategy, we will continue our dual role as a regional leader in transportation and economic development. At the same time, this development will bring new ratables to some of PATCO's host communities and make them even more attractive for residents, businesses, shopping and dining. “With southern New Jersey's population and economy growing faster than ever, rail and other transit services must play a crucial part in shaping and supporting our communities,” said John J. Matheussen, Chief Executive Officer of DRPA and President of PATCO. “Developers, the community and transit agencies can work together to create mixed-use environments that are pedestrian friendly and close to public transportation links.” The first phase of Collingswood's TOD plan, the Lumber Yard condominium complex, is already under construction along Haddon Avenue within blocks of the Collingswood PATCO Station. Next steps will include seeking input from Borough residents in how to develop the PATCO parking area and adjacent space. The Borough will use funds from a $20,000 Urban Land Institute grant to engage residents in planning charrettes and provide information sessions with expert speakers to address TOD issues and benefits. “Coming on the heels of the success at the Lumber Yard, we're thrilled to partner with the DRPA/PATCO to explore more transit oriented development along the PATCO rail line,” said Collingswood Mayor Jim Maley. “Our community will help plan this redevelopment to strengthen our business district, provide new ratables to ease property taxes and create a new neighborhood of families and friends to add to the fabric of Collingswood.” The Wallace Roberts & Todd study shows that residents of a well-designed new development at transit stations ride transit up to five or six times more often than residents of comparable development located away from transit. “We're looking to expand upon the long history of success we have in working with and invigorating the communities we serve,” said Robert Box, PATCO General Manager. “This is a great way to collaborate with our communities to create a greater level of service for residents and commuters.” DRPA/PATCO's implementation of TOD is indicative of a larger trend taking place across the country, where the development planning community has witnessed a boom in rail transit construction. A study by the California Department of Transportation showed that benefits of TOD planning include: •Reduction in air pollution and energy consumptions rates and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2.5 to 3.7 tons per year for each household. •Increased household disposable income after reducing driving costs; saving $3-4,000 per year for each household •Conservation of resource land and open space •Mobility choices for congested areas and allows people who prefer not to drive and those people who do not own cars to get around •Revitalization of aging downtowns and declining urban neighborhoods The Delaware River Port Authority is a regional transportation and development agency. DRPA owns and operates the Benjamin Franklin, Walt Whitman, Commodore Barry and Betsy Ross bridges, PATCO, the Philadelphia Cruise Terminal at Pier 1 and the RiverLink Ferry.

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