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Hartford Gets Advice on Smarter Transportation
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A conference on "Smart Growth" in Hartford is looking at the benefits of streetcars and other integrated transit projects.  As WNPR's John Dankosky reports, Portland, Oregon is touted as the "model city" for this kind of development.

Portland's story is legend in the world of public transit.  In the 1970s, aided by strong regional government, the city and surrounding communities began blocking highway development in favor of rail and densely packed urban areas. 

In 1986, Portland's light rail line was the first built with a federal grant, and a succesful streetcar line began in 2001.  The region continues to recieve tens of millions a year in federal transportation dollars.

The key, according to Rick Gustafson, Executive Director of the Streetcar program is the commitment by local residents to development inside the city - rejecting the car-spawned sprawl found in many urban areas. 

"And that's what happened with us, with a good street frontage,  good walk-able community, and then good transit access, good bicycle access.  What that did was make the high-density area the most desired living location in the Portland region."

And, Gustafson says, the civic investment paid off - by attracting private investors. 

"Our streetcar line cost us $100 million.  We built it over a 10-year period.  Within 750 feet of that line, there's been $3-and-a-half-billion of private investment.  10,000 new housing units and 2 and a half million square feet of commercial space."

Gustafson spoke at a "Smart Growth" Conference, sponsored by 1000 friends of Connecticut - an organization working to promote rail development in the state. 

For WNPR, I'm John Dankosky.



Trolleys in Hartford

Hartford is not Portland, Oregon.  The crime/murder rate is lower in Portland and people aren't going to go into a city if they don't feel safe.  Also there's more to do in the Portland than there is in Hartford.  Gone are the lovely Department Stores like G. Fox and Sage-Allen.  Hartford has good restaurants and the Wadsworth Atheneum is wonderful, but we need more to attract people. The Science Center is great, but very pricey.  That whole project was geared toward out of the area visitors.  At $17 a pop, families are not going to go there very often.   Whatever happened to the Front Street project?  Are we all going to be dead before that comes to fruition?  I'm not optimistic.  Lots of money will be spent on studying it to death and the politicans can't agree on when to go to lunch.

Cost of entry to the Science Center

Perhaps discounted prices could be give to CT residents or at least Htfd residents as Disney world does in FL.  I have been to the Science Center with an eight year old and it was VERY interesting for her and for me.  I hope to return with an adult and spend time at my own level of understanding your many exhibits, etc.  BUT the price of parking and tickets is difficult for this senior citizen.  I hope you can attract schools from the state also.