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Politics & Current Affairs

Car-Free Communities Not Catching On

King Farm in Rockville, Md., could be an example of ‘new urbanism’ and ‘smart growth’ but instead locals are opposing one of the key elements—a central shuttle train.

What’s the Latest Development?

When designing the new suburb of King Farm in Rockville, Md., the village planners left a broad swath of green down the main road that sported along its sides a mix of different types of housing and amenities, such as shops, within walking distance. Down the middle of the boulevard they envisaged a rail track that would efficiently link residents with the regional public transit system. The new suburb was dubbed an “exciting” development and what the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency cited as an example of smart growth.

What’s the Big Idea?

The planned community ticked all the boxes of the new urbanist manifesto: a mix of housing types paired with centrally located amenities, designed for pedestrians and cars as well as public transport–oriented. But instead of embracing that vision, the residents of King Farm and the Rockville City Council recently rejected the proposed transit plan—specifically, any light-rail line that would travel down the swath of green explicitly designed to host such a system. Why?


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