NCSG Researchers to Develop Guidebook for Combatting Negative Impacts of Transit Investment

By Maggie Haslam / Oct 6, 2022 / Updated Oct 7, 2022


Strategies to mitigate the negative impacts associated with transit-oriented development—including displacement of existing residents—will drive a new guidebook developed by researchers at the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) to help transportation agencies plan for equitable, inclusive transit investments. Funded by a $400,000 grant from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program, the 2.5-year project is in partnership with the Urban Institute of Washington, D.C. and Toole Design, an engineering, planning and transportation consulting group.

NCSG Associate Director Nick Finio, Center Director Gerrit Knaap, Professor Casey Dawkins, and Transportation Policy Research Group Director Chester Harvey will lead efforts on behalf of NCSG, with support from its Purple Line Corridor Coalition (PLCC) Director Sheila Somashekhar. The project will draw from the center’s multi-year research and engagement along Maryland’s Purple Line, a 16-mile light rail line that will connect economically and socially diverse communities across two counties. While poised to bring significant economic development to the region, booming real estate values associated with transit-oriented development threaten the displacement of many longstanding lower-income residents and small businesses who currently call the corridor home.

“We think that the Purple Line project tells an interesting story in that it embodies the challenges of gentrification and displacement through a transportation lens,” said Finio. “There are lessons to be learned here—and through other projects we’ve studied across the country—that, collectively, can help agencies make more informed decisions in planning these large-scale investments.”

Launched by the NCSG in 2015, the PLCC has pushed inclusive policy initiatives and strategies to mitigate gentrification and displacement along the corridor.

The University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth is an international leader in transportation research that promotes thoughtful policy solutions and sustainable, community-focused approaches to urban and regional development. In addition to the PLCC, the NCSG also houses the Small Business Anti-Displacement Network, a national network of over 100 small business leaders and stakeholders working to create tools and push policies that help small businesses build resilience, stability and success in changing socio-economic environments.