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Alternative Uses of Transportation Right-of-Way

Alternative uses of transportation right-of-way above, below or next to transportation facilities is part of this movement. Transportation agencies like MnDOT hold onto land, also known as right-of-way, for potential future mobility needs leaving many spaces that go underdeveloped and unused. The public has a right to use the land that is held in trust in a safe, equitable and unharmful way.

Alternative uses can act as a powerful catalyst for property and economic development. They can also improve quality of life when the use repairs damage done to communities from large transportation systems. Other uses can include building shelters and low-income housing, or a space for multi-sector projects to address the increasing housing shortage. Alternative uses can also be used to accommodate demand for utility space, allow opportunities to increase clean and renewal energy production, and provide strategies to revive and maximize the health of our environment.

Rethinking the role of transportation right-of-way as part of the public realm opens larger conversations about how we use and design public space, how to make these places inclusive and how to negotiate the rules that govern use of public space. Alternative uses of transportation right-of-way, when implemented properly, provide community benefit, ensure a high quality of life, maximize investments and protect the environment. Encouraging communities to take creative ownership of transportation right-of-way fosters an environment for people to gather, live, learn and play in commonly underutilized vacant spaces.

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