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Integrating rail through urban design


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Hi guys, I am new to the forum. I am a urban planning student and was working on a project. The problem that I have been trying to solve is trying to design my project; a freight line carves right through the area. I do not want to separate or segregate and want to make sure there is a strong link between both sides for pedestrian use and so forth. I have been trying to implement some urban design principles, but so far, nothing seems to be the right land use and design to use. I am not a fan of Euclidian zoning and basing my project on mixing uses. (form based codes, new urbanism and smart growth principles)

I have looked at some rail projects such as the railyards in Sacramento, but would like to know of any other projects or designs that have been implemented around rail lines and how to create strong connections between both sides of rail line.

Any info would be appreciated.


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Your best bet is to get the train out of grade with the surrounding environment. Without knowing your options for this site, one of the easiest ways to do this is to build up mounds of earth on either side of the tracks and slope it gently back away from the track. Then you can incorporate multistory buildings that take advantage of the terrain to transition from the original grade to pedestrian bridges or even a cap over the track. Even better would be if you had the option to lower the track into a cut and cover situation, but unfortunately rail road companies are notoriously difficult to work with on these kind of projects. It would have to benefit them as well before they would consider it.

Welcome to the forum!

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Thanks for the info and the welcome. It would be difficult to lower the tracts due to a underpass of a major street near by. There is a future plan for a commuter rail line, and maybe light rail will cross this area near the downtown. I am incorporating the station on the north side of the tracks.

Does anyone have any good pictures of TOD's for rail instead of light rail?

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I'm not much of a photographer, but nearly every major suburb in the New York metro region is a TOD served by commuter rail. NJDOT has a Transit Villages Initiative website, but unfortunately there aren't many pictures. I would try looking at their list of transit villages and google image searching pics of those towns. NJDOT TVI.

Elsewhere, there's the famed Fruitvale TOD in Oakland, CA and a few served by bus in metro Seattle. Also look into Arlington, VA. That's considered a TOD served by the DC Metro rail system. Maybe the harborfront development in Kenosha, Wisconsin counts. It's served by a streetcar connector to a commuter rail line. A new harborfront development in Bayonne, NJ has a similar connector to a light rail. If you want to see a really bad TOD look at Metropark, NJ.

Really, pretty much every metro area that has a heavy rail transit system has witnessed some sort of TOD. Google image searches will lead you to something you can pirate ;)

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