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News & Notes

Flying Into Boston 005 - Tilt Shift v2

Boston. Photo (cc) Kevin Tostado.

The Boston Globe: Don’t require more spaces; price curbside ones properly

If you give a valuable resource away for free, the inevitable result is overuse and crowding. In the old Soviet Union, groceries sold eggs and butter at near-free prices, and therefore shoppers faced long lines and empty shelves. In modern Massachusetts, on-street parking is available at low or no cost, and therefore drivers can’t find a parking spot. Low parking costs also ensure there are more drivers congesting the roads.

Small comfort I suppose that even in Boston, residents are aghast at the idea of reduced parking minimums.


The Boston Globe: Boston’s population boom speeds up

It’s not just the city proper. If you look at the other New England cities of 50,000 people or more you see that in general, the closer these sizable cities were to Boston, the faster they grew. (An exception: the similarly fast-growing cities along southern Connecticut’s I-95 and commuter rail corridor, which fall into the orbit of New York City.) This is an acceleration of a trend that began in 2000-2010, when Boston grew faster than the rest of New England for the first time in more than a century.

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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

Governing: Tree Population Falling in Cities

Trees have a tough life in cities. They face heavy stress from storms, insects, air pollution, road salt, low-quality soil and even reckless drivers. Yet the benefits of a healthy tree population are vast, from the numerous environmental qualities to the aesthetic value that comes with a green canopy in a city park or along a busy street.

There’s also the economic value of trees. Real estate experts say trees on residential and commercial properties can increase the value by as much as 23 percent. They can also cut the cost of cooling a home or building, and their ability to absorb and store carbon dioxide makes them a great investment. According to the U.S. Forest Service, that value can average $2,500 per tree in urban areas.


Hartford Courant: After 2nd Wave Of Layoffs in 2 Years, Mohegans Look Beyond Gaming For Future Growth In State “We’re Going To Have To Seek The Appropriate Size For The Gaming Floor”

In the gaming industry, it’s always about the next big thing.

But this week’s layoffs at the Mohegan Sun casino — the second wave in two years — are about something else: the permanent downsizing of gambling operations in Connecticut, as major casinos face intensifying competition in neighboring states.

Mitchell G. Etess, chief executive of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, said Friday that the tribe’s future growth in Connecticut is likely to come from other attractions such as dining, shopping, lodging and entertainment.


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PPAC Square is great, needs trees

PPAC Square

This morning the Providence Performing Arts Center was joined by Mayor Angel Taveras and Governor Lincoln Chafee in officially unveiling the new PPAC Square, otherwise known as the intersection of Weybosset and Mathewson Streets.

Governor Chafee accepting his award

At the event, PPAC’s President Lynn Singleton presented Governor Chafee with a Founder’s Award in recognition of work he did as a U.S. Senator to secure funding for the roadway project. PPAC Square is part of Providence’s Traffic Circulation Improvements project.

The Downtown Providence Traffic Circulation Improvements Phase, of which the PPAC Square work was included, began in April 2011. The $5.5 million project restored two-way traffic on Weybosset and Empire Streets for the first time since the 1970s, while maintaining curbside parking on both sides of Empire Street. The PPAC Square project installed a dedicated drop off lane immediately in front of the theater and built out a functional traffic median that includes new sidewalks, 25 trees, granite planters, bike racks and new benches. The downtown project was supported with $4.7 million of federal funding, $700,000 of matching funds from the state and a nearly $1 million appropriation secured by PPAC for improvements within PPAC Square. An additional $800,000 was procured through a Providence Public Building Authority Bond.

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The Christmas trees have left Weybosset Street

Weybosset Tree Wells

Late last year the City planted trees along Weybosset at PPAC Square. Including a set of little Christmas tree evergreens in the planters along the west side of Weybosset Street. Yesterday, the Christmas trees were out.

I’m told they will replanted at Bucklin Park tomorrow during an Earth Day ceremony today as part of an Arbor Day event, yay.

New permanent trees will be planted on Weybosset Street soon.

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Trees going in at PPAC Square

Just in time for the City’s big birthday party tomorrow, trees are being planted on Weybosset Street outside PPAC.

Trees on Weybosset Street

Some nice sizable trees are going into the tree wells in the sidewalks, however…

Weybosset Christmas Trees

…these little Christmas trees are going into the giant planters along the north side of the street. I’m not too excited about those and am hoping they are temporary. They’re a pretty sad replacement for the trees that were removed for the road project.

Update 11/22/2011: The Christmas trees are temporary, see Planning’s Tweet below.

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/ProvPlanning/status/138996698268712960″]
 

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Crosswalks and bike racks and trees, oh my!

Washington Street work sidewalk work, which has been quite the bother over the summer is inching ever so closer to completion.

Washington Street

Street trees and bike racks on Washington Street at the Mercantile Building.

Street trees have been going in this week and their have also been some bike racks installed. I did not get a photo of some areas that have had bollards installed on the sidewalk.

So far I’ve seen bollards outside the Narrow Building and the Roger Williams University Building. I know the Narrow Building has a hollow sidewalk, so the bollards will ensure no trucks will ever park on the sidewalk there, and I assume the sidewalk is also hollow at the RWU Building.

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News & Notes

Laneways a resource for livable cities [The Star Phoenix]

Laneways [American = alleys] typically make up about 20 to 30 per cent of urban space – more than parks – yet about all they are used for is garbage pickup, utility lines and deliveries. They are often dirty, ugly and forbidding. In progressive cities a “livable laneways” movement is catching on and the greening of alleys is adding to the vibrancy of neighbourhoods, especially downtowns.


The Curious Case Of The Vanishing Chinese City [NPR]

“Anhui province is today announcing the cancellation of Chaohu city,” the broadcast said. It went on to explain that the city once known as Chaohu had been divided into three. The nearby cities of Hefei, Wuhu and Ma’anshan each absorbed a piece of territory. The broadcast confusingly described the move as “an inherent need at a certain level of economic growth.”

“Chaohu’s development hasn’t been good, but Hefei is industrializing and urbanizing. It needs land, so absorbing Chaohu will benefit Hefei. The government hopes that redistributing the land will improve the entire province’s GDP,” he says.

Central Falls on a Chinese scale.


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Weybosset Street/PPAC Square progress

Two weeks ago I took some photos in the PPAC Square area, then never bothered to post them. So I took some more yesterday which actually gives an opportunity to show how work is starting to come together.

PPAC Square

August 10th

One of my friends on Flickr noted that these tree well/bench dealies were body sized and this one appears to be flagged for Carol. We don’t know who Carol is, if she has already passed on, or if someone is planning ahead. If your name is Carol, watch your back.

PPAC Square

August 10th

They also make good storage for crushed barrels and random debris. My question, are these actually big enough for a healthy tree? They seem to be open at the bottom, but don’t most trees roots generally spread out, not down into a hole then out? Are we going to have large healthy shade trees in these tombs, or little decorative trees?

PPAC Square

August 23rd

I also have to wonder why? Why spend the time, energy, and money creating these bunkers when you could simply plant a tree in a hole and build a bench around it? If we didn’t build these things, wouldn’t we have more room for more mature trees?

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News & Notes

Could cities’ problems be solved by urban acupuncture? [The Guardian]

“Urban acupuncture is a surgical and selective intervention into the urban environment,” said Los Angeles architect and professor John Southern in an interview, “instead of large scale projects that involve not only thousands of acres, but investment and infrastructure that municipalities can no longer provide.”


Urban Green Space Key in Improving Air Quality [The City Fix]

Trees on a street in Seoul

Photo (cc) erasmusa

A new study out of the University of Kent in the UK found that a 10 percent increase in urban tree coverage in mid-size cities, like Leicester, can absorb about 12 percent of carbon emissions, contributing to cleaner air. The study is yet another addition to the argument that any sound urban planning or transit policy to improve air quality must be supplemented with green spaces.


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Rumor: tree removal?

Tree at 28 Foch Avenue

July 6, 2011 – 2pm: We are pulling this story for 24 hours.

Waiting on a response from the city.

In 2004, the City passed a regulation in its Zoning Ordinance (Sec. 425.1, “Removal of Significant Trees”) that protects trees that are 32 inches in diameter or greater (measured 4.5 feet above the ground), regardless of location. No “Significant Tree” shall be removed without prior permission of the City Forester. Any person wishing to remove a Significant Tree shall file a request to do so with the City Forester. The request must meet certain criteria in order to receive approval, most notably that the tree poses a danger to human safety, health, and welfare. Call the City Forester at 785-9450 for more information

Now them’s what I call street trees

brown-med-school-trees

Now when someone is required to plant street trees, this is what I want to see. Those are all brand new trees on the left outside the soon to open Brown Medical School in the Jewelry District. Not only are there numerous large new trees here, the parking lane has been removed to widen the sidewalk!

I’m pretty sure these trees will end up being a What Cheer at the end of the year.

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“Elmer the Elm” lobotomized

Elmwood Avenue at Route 95. Reader submitted photo.

A reader wrote in to us several weeks ago to report the lobotomization of several trees on Elmwood Avenue at the ramp from Route 95. Among the trees that had their tops sheared off was Elmer, who survived both the widening of Elmwood Avenue, which resulted in the removal of most of its namesake trees, and the construction of Route 95. The photo below was submitted by our reader and shows Elmwood Avenue during the construction of Route 95 in 1966. Elmer is visible at right past the bridge abutments.

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News & Notes

California Drive-Thru Ban and the “Health in All Policies” Approach Baldwin Park, California, home of the country’s first drive-thru, has banned drive-thru construction for nine months in an effort to combat obesity. [The City Fix]

RI senators land Pawtucket River bridge money Rhode Island’s senators on Thursday announced a $2.3-million appropriation to help replace the Pawtucket River Bridge, the deteriorated structure carrying Route 95. [Projo 7 to 7 News Blog]

Q&A: How the Deepwater Wind deal works What it means for RI electricity customers [WPRI.com]

Berlin Eyes Exotic Trees in Response to Warming Weather Palm trees in Berlin? Not quite. But the German capital is testing trees from the south as native species show signs of struggling with increasingly warm temperatures. Instead of limes and oaks, the city could soon be filled with Judas trees and Daimyo oaks. [Der Spiegel]

Jarrett Walker talks to our staff about public transport branding (and more!) [TransLink (Vancouver, Canada) Buzzer Blog]

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