City returns to its streetcar roots
The plan to transform Somerville, Massachusetts, and connect it to an emerging economy also honors and enhances old neighborhoods.
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A city of 75,000 in the core of the Boston region, Somerville, Massachusetts, is poised to be a leading example in the transformation of urban places.
Only 15 percent of residents currently live within a half-mile of a train station. In a few years, that percentage will rise to 85 as the Massachusetts city returns to its roots as a community of rail transit neighborhoods.
The demand for housing that is accessible to transit is growing nationwide, and by 2030 the supply of such housing needs to grow by 25 million units to meet demand, according to University of Utah researcher Arthur C. Nelson (see article at right). Supply can increase through new transit-oriented development (TOD) or by connecting existing housing to transit — both of which are occurring in Somerville. The city’s transformation has regional implications as Boston tries to retain its economic edge as a high-tech leader. New places for growth are needed — ideally imbedded in the urban fabric.
Five new stations — due to an expansion of the busiest light rail line in the US, the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) Green Line — are set to be built in Somerville by 2016. An additional station along the