"Framingham has been approved for a $50,000 Transit Oriented Development (TOD) grant for preliminary design of pedestrian improvements near the MBTA station," according to an e-mail from William Hanson, chair of the Framingham Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee. The town applied for the state grant last fall (see post) .
TOD is aimed at creating "compact, mixed-use, walkable development centered around transit stations. Generally including a mix of uses such as housing, shopping, employment, and recreational facilities," according to the Massachusetts state government Web site.
Framingham won the grant to do preliminary work on "pedestrian improvements to create better connections between commuter rail and bus service to housing and services in downtown Framingham."
Improving the pedestrian environment around the commuter rail station is a critical step in revitalizing downtown. Right now, the station does little to add vibrancy to the business district, since the streetscape around the station is so unappealing for pedestrians. Instead, commuters walk to and from their parked cars, but few are drawn to nearby stores and restaurants because there's no appealing route on foot from the station to those destinations. And it's hard to imagine many people living in planned nearby housing would be eager to go on foot to and from the train, again because of the offputting walking environment.
Boston (Chinatown, Jamaica Plain and Mattapan), Worcester and Holyoke also received preliminary design grants for pedestrian and bicycle improvements around transit stations.
The Framingham grant is on the agenda for the Bicycle & Pedestrian Advisory Committee's monthly meeting on Tuesday, March 13 at 7:30 pm in Town Hall.