Putting the “T” back into the City’s TOD is critical to downtown success

Putting the “T” back into the City’s TOD is critical to downtown success

September 2019

Attleboro is fortunate to have a designated area in the downtown that is zoned for Transit Oriented Development (TOD). I was proud to be part of the Council in November, 2015, when we amended the City Ordinance creating the TOD

(https://www.cityofattleboro.us/DocumentCenter/View/1044/Transit-Oriented-Development-Zoning-District-Ordinance-PDF) .

Some of the advantages of a TOD include urban revitalization, local economic stimulus, carbon footprint reduction and improvements to quality of life by allowing residents to live, work and play in the same area. These have all been a cornerstone of my campaign for Mayor and will continue to be a priority of my administration. I have attached a link to provide more information on how a TOD is beneficial. http://www.tod.org/ .

The two main elements to a TOD are obviously Transit and Development. Paramount to both of these and the driving force behind them, is the COMMUTER. To have a successful TOD, it needs to be a desirable place for commuters to live. By simply focusing solely on the existing transit and  development options without considering a comprehensive strategy to improve all modes of transit in this area throughout our region, we run the risk of neglecting the people who rely on these services and ultimately make family and lifestyle choices based transportation.  I have spoken frequently about the relationships I have established with several developers that are ready to work with my administration and transform our downtown into a vibrant and bustling center of commerce that attracts commuters from both Boston and Providence.

The state line that separates our neighboring community of Pawtucket must become blended. We need to bring a new meaning to our status as a gateway city in such that we open the gates to Rhode Island and facilitate ease of access through public transportation between our great City and our neighboring  cities. 

We need to start this conversation now. The Governor of Rhode Island has announced plans for implementation of high-speed train service to Boston (https://boston.cbslocal.com/2019/08/28/boston-providence-mbta-commuter-rail-plan/ ). Unless Attleboro is included in these discussions, it will absolutely have a negative impact on our Attleboro Commuters, as if things were not challenging enough. 

Some in Rhode Island have even discussed proposals for expanded rail service in their state (https://www.abc6.com/story/40449182/new-private-commuter-train-service-would-link-providence-woonsocket-worcester-and-more ).  We need to inspire and work with our local leaders in Massachusetts, as well as the Mayors of Pawtucket and Providence to develop an effective plan that includes Attleboro and benefits our mutual commuters. Collectively, we will be able to advocate for our Plan with the Governor’s office in Massachusetts and the Governor’s Office in Rhode Island. Attleboro should be actively engaged in these efforts to ensure that we are a priority of each state’s transit plans. We need to highlight the fact that Attleboro is quickly becoming a destination for people to work, live and play.

We are fortunate that the City has the existing infrastructure with a four- rail section at the Attleboro MBTA Station stop.  This can be an important logistical component in having trains stop at the station without tying up other train traffic on the main rail corridor.  Utilizing our existing infrastructure, Attleboro should be included in any transit improvements to this corridor, including Rhode Island’s proposal for high-speed service to Boston and any rail transit expansion in Rhode Island.   Capitalizing on increased transit opportunities provides more choices for people, making the Attleboro TOD a more attractive option.  

The MBTA, GATRA and RIPTA are all critical and key components to ensuring success of an economic revival here in Attleboro.   Expanding transit service to neighboring communities will be a priority of my administration.   I have spoken many times about how Attleboro is in a prime location to be a perfect blending of cultures from Boston and Providence. However, if we do not foster the proper relationships with public transportation providers, we will not achieve our goals. 

It all starts with being the bridge between Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Blending the two states here in Attleboro, becoming the destination. Fostering a relationship with our Governor and state delegation will make sure that we are not just a whistle stop on the way to Boston and Providence, rather we are the point of the spear, the hub, the shining jewel of Southeastern Massachusetts once again.