Transportation Improvement Districts have several benefits:
- Foster Market-Ready (Re) Development
- Support Complete Communities
- Focus Transportation Investments to High-Priority Growth Areas
- Complement Master Plans
- Support Plans for Downtown Development Districts
- Provide for “Fair Share” Contributions to Transportation Improvements
- Improve Cost-Effectiveness and Efficiency of Transportation Improvements
- Promote Intergovernmental Coordination
For Delaware to remain economically competitive, its transportation system must be able to move people and goods in a timely, efficient, and cost-effective manner. TIDs provide a systematic and comprehensive approach to funding needed transportation improvements associated with development, mitigate negative transportation-related impacts of development, improve the performance and safety of the transportation system, and direct transportation investments to planned growth areas.
Transportation improvements are critically important to attract business investment. TIDs provide transportation infrastructure necessary for market-ready (re)development and adaptive reuse of downtown districts, underutilized or declining retail centers, and aging strip malls along highway corridors. Plans developed to implement a TID can achieve acceptable levels of transportation service; accelerate development in a high-priority growth area; prioritize transportation improvements; and ensure that bicycle, pedestrian, motorist, and transit needs are addressed as development moves forward.
Transportation investments can influence where development and economic activity occurs by providing access to land. At the same time, unmanaged land use and sprawling development patterns can drive the need for costly transportation infrastructure investment. TIDs can foster sustainable development and Complete Communities strategies by planning for transportation systems that better serve people while fostering economic vitality. Reconnecting land use and transportation can lower costs of new or expanded transportation infrastructure and facilities, which can better serve area residents, visitors, and businesses.
As a transportation-related impact fee, a TID can be an effective tool for ensuring adequate infrastructure to accommodate growth where and when it is anticipated. To be effective, a TID must be based on a comprehensive plan, used in conjunction with a sound capital improvement program, and funded through a proportional fee formula. A TID can focus and coordinate transportation investments in high-priority growth areas to help support desired development patterns.
Area-wide master plans can help to implement local government certified comprehensive plans by spelling out the details of, and the responsibilities for, the provision of infrastructure services in an efficient, timely, and cost-effective manner. The master planning process can also help to achieve a local and regional economic vision for enhanced economic opportunities. Local jurisdictions are encouraged to develop a master plan that establishes a TID to reduce the number of required studies in a specific area. When a master plan and TID are prepared concurrently, the effects of the land use on the transportation network can be more accurately forecasted to plan for needed transportation improvements in a master-planned area.
Delaware’s Downtown Development Districts (DDD) Act is intended to leverage state resources to spur private investment in commercial business districts and surrounding neighborhoods; to improve the commercial vitality of downtowns; and to increase the number of residents from all walks of life in downtowns and surrounding neighborhoods. A TID may be considered as part of an “implementation strategy” for a DDD and share the same geographic boundaries. A TID may also be regarded as a “local incentive” for a DDD by ensuring that the transportation network can accommodate new infill, development, or redevelopment in the district.
TIDs more fairly and equitably allocate the transportation impact of new development than individually negotiated developer agreements. TIDs provide an objective process to identify transportation improvements needed to accommodate growth, allocate fairly the costs of transportation improvements among new developments, and ensure the proper and timely accounting of improvements and funds. TIDs ensure that needed transportation infrastructure—road upgrades, interconnection of roads, and pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities—are constructed and that the costs of transportation improvements are not borne by the last developer. TIDs establish a fee program that is based on the premise that all new development (large and small) should pay a fair, or proportional share towards the costs of transportation improvements. TIDs that are supported through developer fair-share contributions can leverage state transportation investments and gain priority consideration during capital planning or transportation improvement planning (TIP) processes.
The scope of the TIS is generally based on the type and intensity of a proposed land use change or development. While a TIS can assess and mitigate congestion- and traffic-related impacts of development, it can be a reactive and narrow approach. A more comprehensive and extensive analysis may be needed for large-scale developments, multiple development proposals, or multi-phased development projects in a given area. A study area that is too large may be needlessly costly and time intensive—both to the developer and to plan reviewers. In addition, it may be difficult to ascertain whether a large, multi-phased or multiple development proposal has a demonstrable impact upon elements of the local transportation network. In these cases, creation of a TID is more proactive, cost effective, and expedient than the conducting several fragmented studies that focus on traffic-related impacts of development.
Planning for TIDs can strengthen partnerships among local governments, DelDOT, and metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) to ensure land use and transportation solutions are complementary. Because a TID can transcend the boundary of a local government (city or county), the process encourages collaboration to achieve long-term transportation solutions that could not be achieved by a single government agency or entity.
Creating a TID is consistent with a more comprehensive, regional approach to planning, programming, and coordinating land use policies, regulations, and transportation improvements. This approach will help the timing, type of, and investment in transportation improvements to accompany desired development activity.