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Kristina Egan, SCR
Posted by Kristina Egan, South Coast Rail Project Manager

As part of the environmental work on the South Coast Rail project, MassDOT has completed more than 5,000 pages of technical information on a dozen aspects of the project.  The project’s newest report addresses secondary and cumulative growth and is probably the most comprehensive effort of its kind in New England.  The report concludes that combining new transit with smart growth – clustering jobs, homes and transit where people already are – offers the South Coast a greener future than one with no transit or transit with no smart growth.

The study predicts that environmental impacts the South Coast will experience from expected growth will be reduced between 21% and 30% if the region pursues a smart growth future. Ten thousand fewer acres will be developed – that’s about 10,000 football fields – by implementing the smart growth measures called for by the project’s Corridor Plan.  This new study confirms that a thoughtful marriage between transportation, economic development and environmental planning can enhance the region’s quality of life.   The full report is posted on www.mass.gov/southcoastrail.

New jobs, homes and development are projected for the South Coast region by 2030.  Regional Planners welcome the growth but know it can also bring some unwanted changes to the historic farms and villages, fields, forests and cities.  A smart growth future on the South Coast including rail will: 

Take the equivalent of a car driving around the world 20 times off the roads every day
Preserve farmland equal to 20 Dike Creek Farms in Dartmouth
Stop the clearing of forest land the size of the Freetown-Fall River State Forest
Limit impacts to biodiversity in an area the size of Lakeville, Freetown, Dighton, and Berkley combined
Reduce the amount of water consumed by each household by 21 gallons per day

While no one can predict exactly how or where development will unfold over the next 20 years on the South Coast, this study demonstrates that incorporating smart growth can help develop more livable and vibrant neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the region, while protecting the South Coast’s natural resources.

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