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Transit oriented development, Transportation -- Planning -- Utah -- Salt Lake City, Transportation -- Planning -- Colorado -- Denver, City planning, Regional planning


The Denver and Salt Lake City Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) have embarked upon regional visioning strategies that promote development around higher density, mixed use centers with current or future access to transit. This study examines the programs and policies in the Salt Lake City and Denver regions to examine regional vision influence on local planning and the opportunities and constraints facing centers. The research team analyzed local plans over the past several decades, interviewed planners, and examined demographic, land use and transportation characteristics in select centers across the region. We found that the regional vision had a moderate influence on local planning, due to vague definitions and criteria. However, light rail investment and market forces have had a more substantial influence—resulting in cities developing supportive transit oriented development policies. While over 100 centers have been designated, many face significant challenges to support regional goals, particularly because many light rail lines were located along rail and freeway alignments. A limited number of “tipping point centers” already contain the necessary elements to be successful with city and private investment. Many “greenfield centers” offer significant future opportunity for development, but their suburban location and infrastructure needs present significant costs and challenges. Many other “redevelopment centers” are dominated by industrial, commercial or office development, and the land use and transportation patterns within these centers present substantial hurdles that may limit their potential to achieve regional goals.


This is a final report, NITC-RR-761, from the NITC program of TREC at Portland State University, and can be found online at

The Project Brief associated with this project can be found at



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