Nearly three years ago Streetfilms took a day trip to Washington, D.C. to see their Smart Bike DC in action. We found the trial bike share system a fun ride with great potential, but with only 120 bikes there wasn’t a great sense of widespread use.
Flashforward to 2011 and with over 1100 bicycles and 110 stations D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare’s is amazing testament to having to “go big or go home” when deploying bike share programs.
Tag Archives | Washington, DC
→ Fast 14 project an exciting demonstration of American innovation [USDOT Fast Lane Blog]
The challenge was tremendous; last summer gaping holes opened up in bridges along the crucial I-93 corridor near Boston. It was clear that the superstructure–the concrete decking and steel beams–of the aging bridges was failing and had to be replaced. Unfortunately, with conventional techniques, closing lanes to replace the 14 structurally deficient bridges on this primary commuter artery would likely tie Boston-area traffic in painful knots for four long years.
The Massachusetts DOT design-build team proposed to cut that four years down to 14 weeks by prefabricating the superstructure pieces off-site then quickly fitting them into position. Rather than close lanes for the weeks it would take to fabricate a bridge’s superstructure on-site, lane closures could be limited to weekends when the pre-fab superstructure could be lowered into place. Preparatory work, they suggested, could be done in advance without disrupting the flow of traffic.
Why isn’t everyone doing this?
→ Transit systems face across-the-board cuts, diminished funding stream under House bill [Transportation for America]
The House proposal contains scant information about public transportation, but by most indications, non-highway projects would have more difficulty receiving funding and prioritization compared to current law.
The outline did not explicitly call for maintaining the historic 20 percent share of Highway Trust Fund dollars for public transportation, though both Chairman Mica and Committee staff indicated verbally at a press conference that the 80/20 ratio would be preserved, albeit as part of a much smaller share of total dollars. Though even with the 20 percent share intact, the overall 35 percent cut would result in steep fare hikes, service cuts, job losses or some combination thereof.
See also: Federal transportation program slated for 35 percent spending cut in House bill [Transportation for America]
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If you’re like me, you love maps (and ice cream, and gin & tonic, and Law & Order UK). And if you love maps, you’re gonna love the DC Metro Map redesign contest being hosted at Greater Greater Washington.
Metro is working now on new Silver Line service which will eventually reach Dulles Airport in Virginia also, new rush hour services are being introduced. These changes prompted the redesign contest.
→ Developers Rediscover Newark [National Real Estate Investor]
For four decades, no new hotels were built in the central business district of Newark, N.J. Crime rates were so high that lenders were reluctant to finance new construction.
But the city’s fortunes have been changing. The number of crime incidents fell from 47,000 in 1999 to 25,400 a decade later. And there is a sense in the business community that the beleaguered city’s time has come.
In April, contractors broke ground for a new $35 million Courtyard by Marriott. Nearby, a developer is proceeding with plans for an upscale, $23 million Hotel Indigo. But hotels are not the only sign of progress. Standard Chartered Bank, a major British institution, just completed a 12,000 sq. ft. expansion of its office space. And Pitney Bowes, a mail service firm, moved to a 76,000 sq. ft. location in Newark.
→ New Study: Infrastructure as a Strategic Priority [The City Fix]
Urban Land Institute, in collaboration with Ernst & Young, released a report on the global infrastructure trends and activities in 2011, and the U.S. infrastructure policies that aim to repair and rebuild the nation’s infrastructure, including roads, transit and ports. Within the theme, “Downscaling Ambitions and Finding Creative Solutions,” the findings of the study overwhelmingly point to a strain on U.S. cities to maintain assets and build infrastructure projects.
→ 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.
→ Riled about rail: Why all the anger over high speed trains? [CNN]
Much of the opposition to rail projects appears to stem not from economic arguments, but from fundamental cultural values on what “American” transportation should be.
A perusal of online commentaries about passenger rail stories reveals a curious linkage by writers between passenger rail and “European socialism.”
Never mind that the majority of European passenger rail operates on a commercial basis.
Many critics of passenger rail emotionally identify it as an enabler of cultural values they fear.
→ EU could ground short-haul flights in favour of high-speed rail [Guardian]
Short-haul flights across Europe could be replaced by high-speed rail under ambitious European Union proposals to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from transport by 60% over the next 40 years.
→ True urbanism must come with a big tent [Greater Greater Washington]
Many urbanists seek greater density by revitalizing the built environment. These urbanists advocate for multi-use, human scale developments and multimodal transportation options, taking for granted that the in-migration and density that follow are good.
While density by itself naturally appeals to younger, more footloose residents, such architectural determinism casts a blind eye to those excluded from the benefits of city life when nothing changes but the built environment.
→ Wow! Study says DC Streetcar could add $10-15 billion in value [New Urban Network]
The Washington, DC, streetcar certainly looks like a good deal. The 37-mile system, the first corridor of which is under construction and expected to be completed by 2012, will increase the value of existing properties by $5-7 billion, according to the study by Goody Clancy & Associates of Boston.
→ Boston’s success depends on T [The Boston Globe]
CITIES HAVE to grow, and the place for them to grow is on top of mass transit. A few decades ago, that was an academic argument. Today, it’s standard operating procedure. It’s just how neighborhoods get built.
Of course, the great assumption underpinning transit-oriented growth is that the transit will be there – to divorce construction from gridlock, to allow people to move around an ever-crowding urban environment, and to put scarce, expensive land into productive use, instead of reserving it for parking. Without mass transit, there is no urban growth.
→ Should high-speed rail focus on the northeast? [2nd Ave. Sagas]
During [New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's] testimony last week, the mayor criticized the government’s current investment plan. With projects in Florida, California and the Midwest garnering headlines, the Northeast Corridor has taken a backseat in Washington with only one percent of federal HSR funds coming our way. “That simply just doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “What we need is a new approach to spending transportation money Ã¢â‚¬â€ one that is not dictated by politics, but based on economics.”
This area is in fact the biggest economic hub in the country, and without a solution to the congestion and transportation crisis, the U.S. economy could begin to feel a strain. As Crain’s New York noted, “The northeast corridor is an ideal place to invest in high-speed rail because its 50 million residents produce 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product.”
→ Could Bess Eaton doughnuts be coming back? [The Day of New London]
The Canadian-based [Tim] Hortons closed the former Bess Eatons around here in November, and most of them remain shuttered, fanning rumors that a revival is brewing.
[Bess Eaton found Paul] Gencarelli [of Westerly] said he understands that a group of investors in town has purchased the rights to the Bess Eaton name, and all the proprietary formulas, etc., and is planning to re-open sometime soon.
→ Planetizen DVD, “The Story of Sprawl” [Planetizen]
This 2-disc set is an unprecedented visual document of how sprawl happened, told through a series of historic films ranging from 1939′s The City, created by famed planner Lewis Mumford, to No Time For Ugliness from 1965, produced by the American Institute of Architects.
→ How Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Interventions Can Catalyze City-Wide Renewal [Project for Public Spaces]
Place-by-place interventions are emerging as a powerful way to create new life for an entire district, especially in cities where great economic hardship encourages innovation and entrepreneurship.
→ Yes, we do need to build more…. [Cap'n Transit Rides Again]
Last week, the Urbanophile posted an article called “Yes, we Do Need to Build More Roads.” He expected that a lot of people wouldn’t like it, and that he would come under a hail of criticism. I didn’t really see this hail materialize, but hey, I didn’t like the piece, and I’m ready to add my criticism.
→ In sprawling suburb, car drive you [Greater Greater Washington]
While last Wednesday’s hyped “thundersnow” underdelivered on the snow, it certainly didn’t in the chaos department. Storms like these highlight the benefits of compact urban development while underscoring the weaknesses of sprawling suburbia.
Residents of Washington’s outer suburbs struggled Wednesday night with horrendous traffic on the city’s commuter routes. At the same time, many DC residents were enjoying happy hours, snowball fights and otherwise carrying on with their lives. By the time people in the central city were fast asleep, many suburbanites were still fighting to get home.
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.
→ Street Science: All Eyes on the Street [Next American City]
The effort will mark BostonÃ‚â€™s entry into the National Complete Streets Coalition, a national group dedicated to making city streets more accessible across America, and is strongly supported by the mayor. Ã‚â€œMayor Menino,Ã‚â€ Ms. Zehngebot noted, Ã‚â€œis behind this all the way and understands that the car is no longer king.Ã‚â€ The Complete Streets Initiative, according to the groupÃ‚â€™s brochure, Ã‚â€œwill improve the quality of life in Boston by creating streets that are both great public spaces and efficient and sustainable transportation networks. The city is committed to designing streets that are: Multimodal: Safe, comfortable, and accessible to all users; Green: Reduce energy use, sustainable, and low-maintenance; Smart: Efficient and maximize technological advances.Ã‚â€
→ The Incrementalists [Metropolis]
New plans to modernize our aging rail intrastrcture
are modest, in the extreme.
→ Streetscape-draining front parking lots may soon be out (Washington, DC) [Greater Greater Washington]
New developments that put their parking in front significantly diminish the pedestrian environment. They also make it less appealing for other, adjacent projects to address the street, creating a vicious cycle away from an active streetscape, while new buildings with their parking in the rear start a cycle in the opposite, positive direction.
→ Connecticut highway tolls could raise $600 million annually [Mansfield Today]
In a recent published statement, Rep. Guerrera says, Ã‚â€œYou put up border tolls for $5 a trip, youÃ‚â€™re talking $600 million a year in revenue. ThatÃ‚â€™s $18 billion over 30 years. You canÃ‚â€™t argue with that.Ã‚â€
The proposal also calls for earmarking these funds for repairing highways and bridges and other transportation incentives, and not putting them into the general budget.
Ã‚â€œWe know we have more than $3 billion in infrastructure needs in this state, just to repair what we have,Ã‚â€ Rep. Guerrera says.