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Researchers Awarded $400K to Develop Guidebook for Equitable Transit Investment

By Maggie Haslam

Researchers at the University of Maryland National Center for Smart Growth (NCSG) have received a $400,000 grant to develop a guidebook to help transportation agencies plan for equitable, inclusive transit investments.

Funded by 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, urban studies and planning Professor Casey Dawkins and Transportation Policy Research Group Director Chester Harvey will lead the efforts, with support from its Purple Line Corridor Coalition, led by Sheila Somashekhar.

The project will draw from the center’s multiyear research and engagement along Maryland’s Purple Line, a 16-mile light-rail line that will connect economically and socially diverse communities across Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, with five stops on or near the UMD campus.

While poised to bring significant economic growth to the region, booming real estate values associated with transit-oriented development threaten the displacement of longstanding lower-income residents and small businesses who 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.”

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