Montclair’s Arrow Station Misses the Mark on TOD

The City of Montclair is betting big on their transit center (dubbed the “Montclair Transcenter”). Located in the northern part of the city, it features a stop on Metrolink’s San Bernardino Line (now including the daily “express”), a hub for several Foothill Transit and Omnitrans routes (including the Silver Streak and Route 290), one of Caltrans’ biggest park-and-ride lots (Excel spreadsheet), and will in the future be a stop on the extended Gold Line. Additionally, the Pacific-Electric Trail dips right down to within a block of the station at this point. Still surrounded by relatively empty land, it isn’t an understatement to say that it presents the perfect opportunity and support to build exemplary transit-oriented development that caters well to those who are or want to be car-lite or even car-free.

The Arrow Station development under construction is one of the ongoing stabs at TOD in the area surrounding the station. But thus far, the prognosis on the transit-oriented part is not good at all. Though the North Montclair Downtown Specific Plan calls for creating an entryway to the city from the station by way of extending the current pedestrian underpass that exists at the station, the land where it would open up is still occupied by a warehouse. Unfortunately, no provision has been made to provide an interim connection between the development and the station until that entrance is built.

Intermission for pictures.

The result is that although the homes in Arrow Station are less than 75 feet from the tracks and residents can see the platforms from their windows, bad planning forces them to make a trip of over 1/3 of a mile to actually reach the station. To add insult to injury, even though Arrow Station and the Transcenter are both on the east side of Monte Vista Avenue, that 1/3 mile trip requires passing through two traffic signals because there is no sidewalk on the east side of Monte Vista through the underpass.

A screenshot of one of the listings for homes available in the Arrow Station development on Zillow.
A screenshot of one of the listings for homes available in the Arrow Station development on Zillow.

Predictably, neither set of homes under construction (in two adjacent communities: The District and The Walk) makes any mention of the development’s proximity to the Transcenter as an amenity on their website because for all practical purposes, it might as well not exist. (Though to be fair, it doesn’t make mention of proximity to freeways either. Or really anything at all.) However, Zillow comes through and does state that the homes are within “walking distance” of Metrolink.

It’s probably too soon to be able to gather any meaningful data on transportation usage from the community under construction. Perhaps some people might actually brave the odds and make their way to the Transcenter anyway. However, fixing the connectivity problem is a surefire way to make choosing transit an easy and intuitive choice for the residents from Day One. (It would also help sell homes by providing a greater pool of potential buyers.) A temporary easement, a ribbon of concrete, and some lights are all that it takes. What’s lacking is the forethought to include them.

 

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2 thoughts on “Montclair’s Arrow Station Misses the Mark on TOD”

  1. I disagree with this articles premises. Premise one is that 1/3 of a mile is too far for locals to travel. That is about 4 city blocks, which should take about ten minutes to walk, (less on a bike or skateboard). Once they arrive they can be in Redlands, (once that extension is complete), in 20 minutes heading east, Riverside,(route 204), in 30 minutes heading southeast and L.A. Union in 30, Pasadena in 20 minutes. There is no way under no circumstance that during rush hour could they come close to those times on the freeways. Premise two is that the city will not add these things. I am sure that the city will add sidewalks, crosswalks, Starbucks, burger joints, and many other things as the project progresses. Be patient. This place even has a express bus to the airport!(290 Omnitrans). Also, i am sure that the property values will be the highest in the county soon.

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    1. Thanks for the response, Jimmie. It looks like you’re misunderstanding the two premises.

      The first premise isn’t that 1/3 of a mile is impossible to walk, it’s that forcing 1/3 of a mile walk when it is quite possible to provide a much shorter trip is poor planning and bad policy. Despite being directly adjacent the station, this forced trip puts the development at the outer fringe of a typical TOD catchment area. While you’re right that the train potentially offers a faster trip during rush hour, those are only a small segment of trips and especially for trips that are right on the edge, having to walk two minutes or ten to make it to a train can be the difference between someone deciding to drive or not.

      The second premise builds off of the first. Certainly, when the future parts of the puzzle are in place, the hope is that the situation will be different. But how long will that take to be accomplished? Plans frequently take years or even decades to implement. As a result, there’s a duration of excessive inconvenience that potentially puts people off from considering transit. The City could’ve told the developer that prior to occupancy, they would either have to provide a ribbon of concrete connecting to the current tunnel/ramp as a temporary connection while they wait for the grand entryway or had them go ahead and build the pedestrian entryway to the city, with reimbursement to come from future developments. That’s not an uncommon tactic used to get roads built, why should pedestrian-oriented infrastructure be any different?

      Also, Omni’s Route 290 does not go to Ontario. SANBAG commissioned a report on airport accessibility and though a bus connection is the preferred near-term solution, Route 290 isn’t it.

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