The White House on Monday continued to pressure the House to accept the $109 billion transportation bill that was passed last week by the Senate, saying that President Obama was ready to sign the measure into law.
The administration has long signaled it supported the Senate’s version of the federal highway bill over the five-year, $260 billion that had been under consideration in the House. The pressure has been amplified since the Senate approved its version of the measure with 74 votes.
Advocates of creative placemaking are careful not to present their work as a panacea. But they firmly believe that art has a central role in reviving urban economies and communities. As examples, Coletta offers the Design District in Miami; the ArtPrize festival in Grand Rapids, Mich.; WaterFire, which lights up the rivers in downtown Providence, R.I., with dozens of bonfires; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, which is credited with helping to fuel the resurgence there.
Most of us – city planners, elected officials, business owners, voters, and the like – understand that the city brings in more tax revenue when people shop and eat out more. However, we often overlook the scale of the property tax payoff for encouraging dense mixed-use development.
Many policy decisions seem to create incentives for businesses and property developers to expand just about anywhere, without regard for the types of buildings they are erecting. In this article, I argue that the best return on investment for the public coffers comes when smart and sustainable development occurs downtown.
Human Transit looks at Spokane, Washington’s new system maps. The combined lines to create frequent service sectors would be apropo for RIPTA for places such as Elmwood Avenue and Charles Street.
→ In bicycle friendly D.C., going car-free is increasingly common [The Washington Post]
In urban areas nationwide, drivers younger than 24 drove six fewer miles a day in 2009 than in 1990. Drivers 25 to 34 drove almost 2.5 fewer miles a day.
“You don’t have to keep a car,” said Carroll, who takes Metro to work most days but walks the 2.4 miles occasionally on a nice day. “I love that the city is becoming more pedestrian-friendly and more bicycle-friendly. I can rent a bike and ride downhill all the way from work. I haven’t yet, but I’m going to.”
And Zipcar? She’s a longtime member who has never used a Zipcar.
“I have kept up my membership because you never know,” she said. “I might have a visitor who wants to take a trip to Middleburg or someplace. I think it’s a very valuable option.”
New York City’s sewage presents a daunting and costly challenge: it creates foul odors and often contaminates waterways.
But the city is now casting its sewage treatment plants and the vast amounts of sludge, methane gas and other byproducts of the wastewater produced by New Yorkers, as an asset Ã¢â‚¬â€ specifically, as potential sources of renewable energy.
→ Transportation Reformers Applaud Obama’s Six-Year Transpo Plan [Streetsblog]
A fix-it-first policy for roads. More support for livability programs. Additional transit investment. Competitive infrastructure grants. In his new six-year, $556 billion surface transportation proposal, President Obama is hitting all the right notes with transportation reform advocates.
As part of his 2012 budget proposal – released yesterday – the President put forward a plan that would double investment in transit, give a boost to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, and generally chip away at policies that have led to billions going to waste on highways to nowhere.
→ Get Out of My Way, You Jerk! Researchers Study ‘Sidewalk Rage,’ Seeking Insights on Anger’s Origins and Coping Techniques [The Wall Street Journal]
You don’t need a car to get road rage.
For many people, few things are more infuriating than slow walkersÃ¢â‚¬â€those seemingly inconsiderate people who clog up sidewalks, grocery aisles and airport hallways while others fume behind them.
Researchers say the concept of “sidewalk rage” is real. One scientist has even developed a Pedestrian Aggressiveness Syndrome Scale to map out how people express their fury. At its most extreme, sidewalk rage can signal a psychiatric condition known as “intermittent explosive disorder,” researchers say. On Facebook, there’s a group called “I Secretly Want to Punch Slow Walking People in the Back of the Head” that boasts nearly 15,000 members.
Shameless Plug: Please feel free to nominate us as Best Blog in the Phoenix’s Best of 2011. You could also ask your friends, your mom, and your cat to nominate us if you like.
During economic downturns, we begin to fear that we are entering a permanent period of decline. But we can avoid that depressing prospect if we recognize that a revival will not come from federal spending or another building boom. Reinvention requires a new wave of innovation and entrepreneurship, which can emerge from our dense metropolitan areas and their skilled residents. America must stop treating its cities as ugly stepchildren, and should instead cherish them as the engines that power our economy.
The president’s campaign pledge to pay attention to cities got some tough early reviews. But now communities around the country are getting federal help to plan for the future.
→ Sustainability Named One of Ã¢â‚¬ËœJargoniest Jargon’ Words of 2010 by Ad Age [Triple Pundit]
Advertising Age named sustainability one of the “jargoniest jargon” words of 2010 that they “wish you would stop saying,” right up there with monetize, choiceful, and the new normal, among others. They explain their decision by describing sustainability as “a good concept gone bad by mis- and overuse. It’s come to be a squishy, feel-good catchall for doing the right thing.
→ A Downtown Hub Is Missed, and a Replacement Is Stalled
Two years have passed since the demolition of Filene’s Basement, where generations of Bostonians tussled over cut-rate designer clothes in a dingy but fiercely loved downtown store.
In its place, a $700 million tower was to rise with offices, condominiums, a hotel and a new Filene’s for the bargain hungry. But the recession halted the project, possibly for good, leaving Boston with a deserted construction pit in one of its busiest neighborhoods.
In Providence, R.I., a crumbling brick facade is all that remains of the landmark Providence National Bank building, which was razed in 2005 to make way for a now-canceled residential tower.
First of all, don’t compare North America to Europe. The history and ambient density and urban momentum are all too different. Compare North America to Australia, where the history and economics are similar but a cultural difference led to a different outcome.
→ President proposes new jobs, renewed infrastructure
It doesn’t do anybody any good when so many hardworking Americans have been idled, yet so much of America needs rebuilding. That’s why I am announcing a new plan for rebuilding and modernizing America’s roads and rails and runways for the long term.
Over the next six years we are going to rebuild 150,000 miles of our roads–enough to circle the world six times. We’re going to lay and maintain 4,000 miles of our railways–enough to stretch coast to coast. We’re going to restore 150 miles of runways and advance a next-generation air-traffic control system to reduce flight-times and delays for American travelers.
We used to have the best infrastructure in the world. We can have it again. We’re going to make it happen. This will create jobs and make our economy run better over the long haul.
→ HafenCity: A Case Study on Future-Adaptive Urban Development
Hamburg…will allow flooding, but designed a major new part of the city to be resilient to high water, with water-proof parking garages, a network of emergency pedestrian walkways 20 feet above the street, and no residential units at ground level. Even the parks in this new Harbor City district are designed to withstand battering by waves and storm surge, either by floating as the waters rise, or by incorporating lots of hard surfaces that only need to be washed off when the waters recede.
It may well be that in today’s political climate, the only way cycling and pedestrian advocates will get the infrastructure they want is if they assure the masses that car travel will not be impacted in any way. But the trouble is, that position suppresses the reality that cars are in fundamental conflict with walking, biking, and transit.
Two years ago, it was difficult to imagine how the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site of the trade center and is building most of it, could ever finish the eight-acre memorial in time for the 10th anniversary of the attack, on Sept. 11, 2011. Today, it is difficult to imagine what would stop them (though, given the site’s tortured history, the possibility shouldn’t be completely dismissed).
Obama Administration Proposes Major Public Transportation Policy Shift to Highlight Livability Changes Include Economic Development and Environmental Benefits
In a dramatic change from existing policy, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today proposed that new funding guidelines for major transit projects be based on livability issues such as economic development opportunities and environmental benefits, in addition to cost and time saved, which are currently the primary criteria.
In remarks at the Transportation Research Board annual meeting, the Secretary announced the Obama Administration’s plans to change how projects are selected to receive federal financial assistance in the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts and Small Starts programs. As part of this initiative, the FTA will immediately rescind budget restrictions issued by the Bush Administration in March of 2005 that focused primarily on how much a project shortened commute times in comparison to its cost.
“Our new policy for selecting major transit projects will work to promote livability rather than hinder it,” said Secretary LaHood. “We want to base our decisions on how much transit helps the environment, how much it improves development opportunities and how it makes our communities better places to live.”
The change will apply to how the Federal Transit Administration evaluates major transit projects going forward. In making funding decisions, the FTA will now evaluate the environmental, community and economic development benefits provided by transit projects, as well as the congestion relief benefits from such projects.
“This new approach will help us do a much better job of aligning our priorities and values with our transit investments” said FTA Administrator Peter Rogoff. “No longer will we ignore the many benefits that accrue to our environment and our communities when we build or expand rail and bus rapid transit systems.”
FTA will soon initiate a separate rulemaking process, inviting public comment on ways to appropriately measure all the benefits that result from such investments.
In a question and answer session today in Ft. Myers, Florida, President Obama stated the following in response to a question about transportation and infrastructure in the stimulus package:
It’s imagining new transportation systems. I’d like to see high speed rail where it can be constructed. I would like for us to invest in mass transit because potentially that’s energy efficient. And I think people are a lot more open now to thinking regionally”
The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody” recognizes that’s not a smart way to design communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this sort of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation.
It is very exciting to hear a President say that. I’m going to keep this quote in my back pocket just in case we don’t see a change in the way we design our communities.
Previous favorite Obama quote: “What do you think ‘stimulus’ is? It’s spending – that’s the whole point! Seriously.”
My email’s been jammed with all manner of Senate Stimulus information. I’ve had no time to digest it all so excuse me while I throw a few things against the wall here and allow you all to digest it yourselves:
In the Boston Globe Edward L. Glaeser suggests that infrastructure should be removed from the Stimulus package and get a bill of it’s own:
PRESIDENT OBAMA is the first urbanite in the White House since Teddy Roosevelt. He certainly knows the vital role that cities play in America. Yet despite the Chicagoan on Pennsylvania Avenue, infrastructure spending in the House stimulus bill follows a business-as-usual pattern that discriminates against density. The only way to break that pattern is to take non-repair-related infrastructure spending out of the stimulus, and craft a separate bill that looks beyond the current recession. Major infrastructure projects, especially in cities, cannot be done quickly.
Re: Preserve transit investment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act
The undersigned organizations and public officials write to urge the Senate to oppose any efforts to decrease funding for our nation’s public transportation network in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
A proposed reduction of $3.4 billion in transit funding would cut more than 100,000 jobs from the proposal. The bill currently includes $8.4 billion for pressing transit improvements which would save more than 10 million barrels of oil per year and create or preserve more than 250,000 quality jobs.
The transportation sector is responsible for a third of the nation’s global warming pollution, and two-thirds of domestic oil consumption. Public transportation saves more than 4 billion gallons of fuel each year, and produces less than a third of the pollution of comparable passenger car travel. Transit service is critical for the millions of people who depend on it to reach jobs. Transit provides a low-cost transportation option for households at all income levels, seniors and workers with limited mobility. Finally, in a national poll released earlier this month by the National Association of Realtors and Transportation For America, 80% of respondents said stimulus funds should not only create jobs, but also reduce oil dependence, increase transportation options and improve the environment.
We thank you for your leadership on this issue and urge your support for this important investment that will help build a cleaner, safer, healthier and stronger America.
Bike Portland has the scoop on Senator Jim DeMint’s (R-SC) amendment to prohibit funding for “bicycle routes” in the stimulus bill:
“When people see bike trails and hiking trails and golf courses, they know this is not designed to stimulate the economy and create jobs. It’s just basically special-interest pork barrel spending.”
Also in my mailbox (sorry I have no linkable source for this at this time):
US Senate Adopts Coburn Amendment
Earlier today, the U.S. Senate voted to accept, by a vote of 73-24, an amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) which states, “None of the amounts appropriated or otherwise made available by this Act may be used for any casino or other gambling establishment, aquarium, zoo, golf course, swimming pool, stadium, community park, museum, theater, art center, and highway beautification project.”
This amendment prohibits any federal stimulus spending on museums, theatres, and art centers. The Senate is expected to pass the final Senate version of the stimulus package later tonight. A House-Senate conference committee will iron out the discrepancies between the two versions of the stimulus bill next.
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