That's what I said in a recent blog post. After the jump, a supporting argument I read a few days later in a Slate article by Matthew Yglesias.A few isolated urban centers, left to fend for themselves, are going to wither on the vine. Nurture them to grow together into a string of overlapping vibrant urban centers all along the DART line from Spring Valley to PGBT and Richardson will have a cornucopia.Source: The Wheel.
Yglesias is referring to the D.C. Metro’s Orange Line in Fairfax County, Virginia, but it could apply as well to the DART Red Line.You need train stations surrounded by densely built structures, not parking lots. And you need the stations to be relatively close to each other. Dense building around one station creates a little circle of walkability. A series of stations built close together, each surrounded by its own little circle, creates a string of walkable pearls that re-enforce each other. That’s how you get whole new communities where people get by with fewer than one car per adult, spurring a circle of demand for pedestrian-oriented businesses and decreased demand for car ownership. And that’s what gives you big public health and environmental benefits.Source: Slate.
Yglesias calls for a "string of walkable pearls." I called for a "cornucopia" of fruits on a vine. Regardless of the metaphor, the important thing is that each urban center not be thought of in isolation. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, if the parts are close enough to each other to reinforce each other. This raises the need for Richardson to double down.
Arapaho Station is a potential gem in that string of pearls. A few years ago, there was some initial interest in development of the area around the station. The economic downturn quashed that idea for now, but the city needs to keep that vision alive and find a way to make it happen.
Of even more importance to Richardson's future would be a new DART station on Main Street. It would be a win-win-win, reinvigorating downtown while at the same time helping reinforce the urban centers to the south (Brick Row) and the north (that new mixed-use urban center needed at Arapaho Station). Infilling new stations in the Red Line would be challenging, but the Blue Line did just that at the recently opened Lake Highlands Station. Quixotically, the City Council created a near-term action item to advocate for Richardson access points for the HOV lanes on Central Expressway. If the council wants a quixotic action item that would really benefit Richardson, the council ought to advocate for another DART station at Main Street.