MORPC Corridor Report Calls for Denser Development, Investments in Transit

Last week, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) released the Corridor Concepts Scenario report. A companion piece to the 2014 insight2050 report, the report evaluates the role of “mobility corridors” in structuring growth to explore how best the region could support a broad projection of one million more residents. Largely, the report concludes that the Columbus region could accommodate more than half of the predicted growth into five major corridors through denser development and coordinated investments in improved transit.

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The report examined and compared detailed growth options along study corridors and across the region. Based on growth model trajectories used in the insight2050 report, the Corridor Concepts compared two scenarios of growth: one that follows the Current Trajectory and one following the Focused Corridor Concept where dense development is focused in five major corridors throughout the city. Should development follow the Current Trajectory, both commercial and residential growth would generally occur outside of the five study corridors, with the resulting urban structure being dispersed and generally auto-oriented. The Focused Corridor scenario calls for investment in new transit service, cautioning that the extent and density of growth is limited by the regions existing transit network.

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The corridors feature land use that is compatible and supports fast, reliable, high-capacity transit service, indicating an assumption on dedicated rights-of-way modes. The study stops short of recommending a specific type of new mobility, offering light rail transit (LRT), bus rapid transit (BRT), autonomous rapid transit (ART) or pools of autonomous cars/smaller vehicles, as possible modes suitable for any of the five selected corridors. Transit which features dedicated rights-of-way can support significant investment and attract prioritized development over traditional bus service models.

The Corridor Concepts Scenario report was prompted by projected increase in population by 2050. Should the region grow by an additional one million residents, Central Ohio communities are going to need to evaluate how best to accommodate new growth and serve existing communities. Modeling these two scenarios has yielded results that demonstrate the wide-ranging benefits of focused corridor development, including lower auto use, land savings, lower costs for local infrastructure, higher revenues, and lower household costs.