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Stimulating


Photo (cc) Daniel Case

RIDOT is getting $1.2 million from the stimulus to study a third track at Kingston Station. The third track would provide a siding, allowing MBTA commuter rail trains to serve the station while highspeed Acela trains are able to move through without stopping.

However, though we are getting stimulus love for Kingston Station, New England gets the shaft on the $8 billion federal high speed rail stimulus porgram. New England is getting under $200 million dollars or about 2% of the total funds.

Massachusetts really lost out, no money for New Bedford/Fall River commuter rail, no money for the “inland route” which would have upgrade tracks between Boston and Springfield and improved service on the Worcester commuter rail line, and no money for the $1.9 billion north/south rail link in Downtown Boston (that last one is no surprise, no one wants to open the PR pandora’s box of spending more federal money in the Central Artery corridor post-Big Dig).

New England did get money to move forward on improvements in the New Haven – Hartford – Springfield – Vermont corridor, and to expand Amtrak’s Downeaster service north from Portland to Brunswick, Maine.

New England receives 2 percent of high-speed rail funds [Boston.com]
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Bikes Ride Here

BikesRideHere

Photo from Bike New Haven

Design New Haven reports on the city of New Haven’s newly launched website, Bike New Haven, and boy is it great. Great starting from the above photo on the front page. Bikes Ride Here, on the street, amen!

As Design New Haven outlines, the site is full of great information about cycling in New Haven. Bike safety, route information, planning documents, bike-to-transit options, a system to request bike racks, and more. New Haven really seems to have it’s act together on ensuring that bikers are part of the transportation infrastructure in the city and not just an after thought. I encourage everyone to take a look at the site and think about what we’d like to see in Providence along similar lines.

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Watch and Learn? New Haven’s Renaissance, Reviewed

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An absolute must read article for anyone who cares about rebuilding our cities can be found in this month’s Yale Alumni Magazine. The balanced piece reviews the birth, agonizing death, and then the recent rebirth of an urban New Haven, CT. While we all often focus deservedly on Providence’s downtown renaissance, many here don’t realize that a comparable downtown rebirth that has certainly happened faster and perhaps more successfully has taken place 90 minutes South on I95. I was a student in New Haven during some of its darkest days in the early to mid-90′s, and I’m always utterly shocked by how different it feels every time I go back.

One day, an urban planning student will be able to build an entire thesis comparing and contrasting Providence’s and New Haven’s urban revitalizations as, on the surface, the two cities’ efforts could not have been more different. We focused on creating dramatic public spaces (Waterplace Park, Capitol Center) populated by skyline altering hotels, luxury condos, and businesses, perhaps at the expense of having created some empty, sterile streetscapes. NH’s did the exact opposite, with a laser-like focus on downtown residential and streetscape development. While their skyline hasn’t changed in 30 years, they instead focused on enhancing their city’s walkability and on creating warm, accessible, and vibrant neighborhoods chocked full of hip new retail, restaurants (120+ downtown!), affordable housing, and urban amenities, all supercharged by Yale’s revolutionary program to pay its employees to live in the city. We built a successful downtown mall, NH closed their failing one and refashioned it into apartments and a community college. We upgraded our aging downtown sports arena, while NH tore their’s down. We (RISD excepted) have had our large institutions play peripheral roles in our largely government driven renaissance, while NH’s wouldn’t have happened without Yale’s overwhelming and enthusiastic leadership. We resisted focusing and branding different neighborhoods of our city, while NH has embraced that approach…

Even in the downturn, 6,000 new non-student residents (and growing) are living in downtown New Haven and this quote from their Mayor is one I think we would envy:

“[New Haven] will confront something I don’t think we would have imagined confronting 15 years ago: that the central business district is basically filled.” That prospect has city planners looking for new building sites…

it’s a great read that has to give hope to all urbanists. The article is here.

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