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News & Notes


The Atlantic Cities: The Great Senior Sell-Off Could Cause the Next Housing Crisis

In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, these consumers [baby boomers] were at their peak family size and peak income. And suddenly, there was massive demand in America from the same kinds of people for the same kinds of housing: big, large-lot single-family homes (often in suburbia). In those two decades, calculates researcher Arthur C. Nelson, 77 percent of demand for new housing construction in America was driven by this trend.

“Ok, if there’s 1.5 to 2 million homes coming on the market every year at the end of this decade from senior households selling off,” Nelson asks, “who’s behind them to buy? My guess is not enough.”


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News & Notes

Human Transit: Countering The “Empty Buses” Myth — With Video!

The Pinellas County, Florida transit agency has done this video to help counter the impressions people get from seeing empty buses around the area. Seeing empty buses often causes people to complain that the buses are too big, are obviously not needed, should be replaced with smaller ones, etc.


Next City: That Tree on the Corner May Be Worth More Than Your Houses

Given the city’s annual expenditures of $850,000 on street tree planting and maintenance, Tree Pittsburgh concluded that the city received $3 in benefits for every dollar it invested in street trees. That math helped convince the city that upfront investment in trees was worthwhile, and so last summer Pittsburgh released a detailed master plan for maintaining and expanding its urban forest over the next two decades.

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News & Notes

ecoRI News: Parking Lots Proliferate at Twin River

Getting a parking lot built in Rhode Island typically requires permits and review by state agencies and local officials. But in one case a large lot at Twin River Casino inexplicably appeared next to a wetland.


Urbanophile: Milwaukee’s Relationship with the Chicago Mega-City Revisited by David Holmes

I was intrigued by Aaron’s recent post “Don’t Fly Too Close to the Sun Piece” which focused on the relationship between Milwaukee and Chicago and the notion of whether “proximity to Chicago or another mega-city represents an unambiguous good,” or – as posited by Aaron – may actually be more of a curse than a blessing, and something that drains vitality instead of increasing it. This is a topic that interests me both from the perspective of a long-time resident of Milwaukee and as a long-time fan of the City of Chicago. There are likely unique combinations of factors to consider in this type of evaluation for every city pair – including the distance between the cities, the presence or absence of high speed and/or low cost transit options between the cities, and the relative size. Although I did not comment on Aaron’s post at the time of publication, I thought it would be useful to consider some specific examples of ways in which Chicago enhances or decreases Milwaukee’s economic vitality as both the article and many of the comments on Milwaukee-Chicago and other city pairs, seemed to lack specific examples of both positive and negative impacts.

Some Providence-Boston talk made its way into the comments.


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News & Notes

Sidewalk cafe proposed on Boston's Newbury Street Boston Business Journal: Clover food truck to open Newbury Street sidewalk café

Clover Fast Food Inc., the popular food truck operator with multiple locations in Boston and Cambridge, is coming to Newbury Street.

The company, which features single-cup drip coffee for $2 and a soy BLT for $5 on its menu, is leasing a 275-square-foot sidewalk space from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

A kind of wheel-less food truck if you will. Sort of resembles the proposed café on the Providence River Pedestrian bridge.


The New York Times: Use of Public Transit Grew in 2011, Report Indicates

In another indication that more people are getting back to work, Americans took 200 million more rides last year on subways, commuter trains, light-rail systems and public buses than they did the year before, according to a new report by a leading transit association.

Americans took 10.4 billion rides on public transportation in 2011 – a billion more than they took in 2000, and the second most since 1957, according to a report being released Monday by the American Public Transportation Association, a nonprofit organization that represents transit systems.


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News & Notes

Berlin Dynamic from Matthias Makarinus on Vimeo.

Vimeo: Berlin Dynamic

Dynamic Berlin – Timelapse project with over 50.000 photos and thousands of people. Dynamic light, clouds, street life, movement and much more. Shot from May 2010 – September 2011 with Canon 5D Mark II and many lenses.

Via: The City Fix


The Hill: Boxer sees ‘no path forward’ on $109B Senate transportation bill

The Senate transportation bill, which is shorter than the controversial House version of the measure, has been hailed for its bipartisanship since was approved unanimously by several committees. The Senate bill does not include provisions to expand oil drilling, but it has been bogged down amendments such as a measure from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) dealing with foreign aid to Egypt and an effort to contraception in their healthcare plans.

Boxer said Wednesday that she would not allow the transportation bill to be permanently stopped during the amendment process.


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News & Notes – Transportation Bill

Traffic

Photo (cc) Steven Damron

Transportation for America: House Ways and Means proposal to end guaranteed funding for public transportation undoes bipartisan agreement since Reagan

After service cuts and fare hikes, House leadership plan gives transit riders more to worry about

Reversing policy begun under President Ronald Reagan, House Ways and Means Committee – at the direction of House leadership – could move Friday to end guaranteed funding for public transportation, and leave even today’s inadequate funding levels in doubt.

The proposal to bar public transit from receiving funds from the federal motor fuels tax is part of a bill coming before the House Ways and Means Committee Friday morning. That bill sets the revenue levels for the five-year surface transportation bill making its way through the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee today.


Politico: GOP highway spending bill ‘the worst,’ Ray LaHood says

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Thursday the House GOP’s highway spending plan is “the worst transportation bill” he’s seen in decades.

“This is the most partisan transportation bill that I have ever seen,” LaHood said in an exclusive interview with POLITICO.

“And it also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen. It hollows out our No. 1 priority, which is safety, and frankly, it hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we’ve been about for the last three years,” LaHood added. “It’s the worst transportation bill I’ve ever seen during 35 years of public service.”


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News & Notes

Streetcar Shuffle

Seattle Streetcar, photo (cc) kcl_in_pdx

Pedestrian Observations: Improving the MBTA

The MBTA has a problem. And I say this coming from New York, whose standards for good regional transit aren’t all that high, but now Metro-North looks like something to look up to from the MBTA. Ridership on the system is rising, but not very quickly; the MBTA moreover has no plans to modernize. Most of what I’m going to suggest will involve commuter rail, not because it’s the most important portion of Boston’s public transportation but because it’s the part I’m most familiar with and also the part that seems most direly in need of improvements. Put another way, I’m necessarily going to talk about the MBTA as perceived from Providence, rather than from within Boston.


Fast Lane: American streetcar projects creating jobs today, livable communities and economic development tomorrow

Federal Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on streetcars:

Today, streetcars in New Orleans and Tucson are under construction. Dallas, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City are currently designing their own streetcars. Tampa extended its popular TECO Line Streetcar System, which has already created billions of dollars in economic development. And Cincinnati will break ground very soon on the Queen’s City’s unique streetcar project.

It’s simple: this streetcar revival means greater mobility and more American jobs. DOT will continue to improve public transit services by supporting these critical projects that create jobs today and livable communities and economic redevelopment tomorrow.


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U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood announces high speed rail money for New England

Providence Station

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $82.7 million to improve high-speed and intercity passenger rail in Rhode Island, Maine, Connecticut and Vermont. The dollars will provide needed upgrades to the Northeast Corridor, Connecticut’s New Haven – Springfield line, Maine’s Downeaster route and the Vermonter service.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $26.2 million for the design and construction of an electrified third track parallel to the Northeast Corridor’s main line, and a new platform for the station in Kingston, RI. The third track will permit faster trains to overtake slower trains, reducing congestion and improving on-time performance on the Northeast Corridor for Amtrak and commuter trains. Throughout the Northeast Corridor from Washington, D.C to Boston, $1.75 billion is being invested to improve service.

Rhode Island Department of Transportation. $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental reviews for American with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliant platforms at the Providence station on the Northeast Corridor. The project also includes improved parking and pedestrian access, station repairs, potential reconfiguration of transit circulation and drop-off facilities, and future tunnel improvements.

Information about funding for projects in Maine, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Vermont at the Federal Railroad Administration website.

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News & Notes

Would $12,000 Convince You To Move Closer To Work? [Fast Company]

How much cash would it take to get you to move closer to your work? For the purposes of this exercise, imagine that your work is in one of the more, shall we say, unsavory parts of Washington, D.C. and you live in a nice, quaint suburb in Virginia. Would you accept $12,000? Washington, D.C.’s Office Of Planning thinks you might–so the organization is launching a pilot program that will match employer contributions of up to $6,000 to convince people to move closer to their work or public transit.


A mighty role in downtown Worcester [Boston.com]

WORCESTER – Stand on one side of tiny, wedge-shaped Federal Square, on the southern edge of this city’s downtown, and the perspective is gleaming. What once was a boarded-up multiplex is now the glassy facade of the restored Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts, a venue for touring Broadway shows that draws audiences from all over fast-growing Worcester County.

Stand on another side of the square, and the pawnshop that doubles as a check-cashing emporium is difficult to miss, while empty storefronts are easy to see. Then again, the dive bar is gone now, replaced by an establishment that serves craft beers. Apartments a few doors down from the theater are being rehabbed. A couple of small restaurants have popped up.

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Transportation Secretary LaHood visits Providence

Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited Providence today to learn more about the Metro Transit Study.

Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the forum held during his visit (anyone who did, please feel free to share you impressions in the comments). It is certainly good to get the Administration up here to listen to our plans.

From Providence City News:

“I’m pleased that Secretary LaHood has taken a keen interest in our comprehensive proposal for a robust public transportation system for the Providence metropolitan area,” said Mayor David N. Cicilline. “Secretary LaHood and President Obama’s administration recognize that expanded, modern transit systems are absolutely essential to job creation and the long-term health and prosperity of our nation’s cities.”

“I appreciate the Mayor’s commitment to a modern, comprehensive transportation strategy as a critical component of Rhode Island’s economic future,” said Secretary LaHood.

Secretary LaHood and representatives from the Congressional delegation were taken on a trolley tour of various sites throughout the city including a potential streetcar route, new transit hubs currently under construction by RIPTA and a new rapid transit service scheduled to be launched in the fall that will connect two major bus routes (Broad Street and North Main/Pawtucket) creating a more pleasing and convenient experience for commuters.

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