Author Archives: Alex Dodds

Voters strongly support smart growth measures on Election Day 2014

bar-harbor-meMaine’s small businesses, like these in Bar Harbor, will get new help thanks to yesterday’s passage of Question 3. Photo by Duluoz via Flickr.

On Tuesday, voters across America passed statewide, county-wide, and citywide measures in support of smart growth and better development strategies. Here’s a short roundup of what passed, what failed, and what it means for community development.

Posted in Coalition, Featured Content, Florida, Local, Maine, Members and Main, New Jersey, Rhode Island, States | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Smart Growth News — October 17, 2014

Do the Most Hipster Thing Possible—Move to Des Moines
National Journal — October 16, 2014
Ambitious minds are in the process of building a new Des Moines, a tech hub in Silicon Prairie, an artistic center in the Heartland, a destination for people who want to create something meaningful outside of the limits imposed by an oversaturated city like Chicago or New York.

The link between housing policy and student achievement
Washington Post — October 16, 2014
It is impossible to divorce a student’s life outside of school with how well he or she does in class.

A Chat with Amtrak’s CEO on the State of U.S. Passenger Rail
City Lab — October 16, 2014
Year after year, Amtrak sets ridership records along with the pace of intercity travel in the all-important Northeast Corridor from Washington to Boston via New York, where it reaps big profits. And year after year, Amtrak gets hammered for needing huge amounts of federal taxpayer money to maintain costly (yet mandatory) long-distance operations—even as highways require far, far greater subsidies.

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Smart Growth News — October 16, 2014

The Conservative Case Against the Suburbs
The American Conservative — October 15, 2014
America’s suburban experiment is a radical, government-led re-engineering of society, one that artificially inverted millennia of accumulated wisdom and practice in building human habitats.

TOD biggest trend of century, says new report
Real Estate Weekly — October 15, 2014
Transit Oriented Development (TOD) has emerged as the most substantial development trend of the early 21st century, according to real estate experts.

Foxx: Lame Duck Session An Opportunity To Fix Highway Trust Fund
WAMU (DC) — October 16, 2014
The Obama administration’s top transportation official said the coming lame duck session of Congress will present an opportunity to pass an elusive multi-year road and transit funding bill to end the cycle of short-term patches that keep the Highway Trust Fund from going broke.

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Smart Growth News — October 15, 2014

The Return of the American Streetcar
WNPR (Conn.) — October 14, 2014
Could streetcars be the mass transit solution we’ve been waiting for?

Scrunched in Seattle
Politico — October 14, 2014
The country’s fastest growing city (population 640,500), Seattle is the pioneer of micro-housing—tiny, one-room dwellings that are in turn hailed as an affordable, sustainable alternative to the high cost of city living, and disparaged as an inhuman experiment in downsizing.

Crumbling U.S. Fix Seen With Global Trillions of Dollars
Bloomberg News — October 15, 2014
“America needs the upgrade and modernization of our infrastructure, and I don’t think you’ll get there if you keep excluding, or at least discouraging, private capital.”

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Smart Growth News — October 14, 2014

In latest U.S. Census figures, cities continue growing
USA Today — October 7, 2014
Americans’ growing love affair with cities shows few signs of abating, with several large cities, including this one, growing last year at several times the national rate, suggest new findings from the U.S. Census Bureau.

NLC releases its City Fiscal Conditions report
National League of Cities — October 14, 2014
This year’s survey reveals that although the worst is behind, cities’ fiscal conditions have not yet returned to full recovery following the Great Recession.

The economics of building a factory in Brooklyn
Washington Post — October 13, 2014
MakerBot built a 150-employee, 3-D printer factory down the street in Brooklyn – one of the most expensive places to live and work in the United States.

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2014 TIGER grants will help create Complete Streets and great neighborhoods

dahlonega-gaDahlonega, GA will use its TIGER grant to make streets safer and more accessible. Photo via the Dahlonega-Lumpkin County Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.

Earlier this week the U.S. Department of Transportation announced the winners of the 2014 Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants.

With an emphasis on getting the highest bang-for-the-buck and solid partnerships, it’s not surprising that many of the winning street projects and plans are those that take a Complete Streets approach. Here are some of our favorites.

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USDOT announces new initiative to improve safety for people bicycling and walking

pedestrian-safetyThunderbird Avenue in Phoenix, AZ. Photo via Ped/Bike Images.

Americans today are walking and bicycling for fun, for their health, and as a way to get where they need to go. But in too many communities, roads are unsafe for people traveling by foot or bike. Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced plans to help end this deadly problem.

At the Pro Walk/Pro Bike/Pro Place conference this morning in Pittsburgh, USDOT Secretary Anthony Foxx announced a new federal initiative to make roads safer for people bicycling and walking. According to a USDOT release, the 18-month campaign will begin with road safety assessments conducted by USDOT field offices in every state, and will produce multiple resources to help communities build streets that are safer for people walking, bicycling, and taking public transportation.

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FTA voices its formal support for joint development

Joint developmentTriMet’s joint development program in Portland, OR, helped build the Patton Apartments (above) on land once occupied by the Crown Motel. Photo via SERA Architects.

Developing land owned by transit agencies boosts ridership and supports local economies. So how come more agencies don’t do it?

New guidelines from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) encourage transit agencies to do just that. In guidance issued on August 25, 2014, the FTA came out in support of joint development—cooperation between local transit agencies and real estate developers to make the most of agency-owned land. The new guidance is the first time the FTA has publicly recognized the multiple benefits of such cooperation, which include increased ridership, better transit access for the community, greater revenue for the transit agency, and broader economic development. From the document:

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What the GROW AMERICA Act would mean for smart growth and community development

Yesterday the Obama Administration sent Congress its proposal for a four-year federal transportation bill—the GROW AMERICA Act. The current bill, MAP-21, is set to expire at the end of September, and the new bill has implications for highway and rail construction as well as economic development programs like TIGER grants. How would these proposals impact community development and smart growth?

The good news
The bill includes several promising policies for smart growth advocates.

First and foremost, it would require cities and states to consider all modes of travel when designing federally funded roads, provisions very similar to those proposed in the Safe Streets Act. This strategy gets the most out of federally funded projects, makes sure a given project best meets a community’s needs, and supports neighborhoods with a wide range of transportation choices—all things that Smart Growth America supports.

Posted in Complete Streets, Congress, DOT, Federal, LOCUS, White House | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

How much will your region lose when the transportation trust fund goes bust?

The national transportation trust fund—which provides funding for all kinds of transportation projects including highway maintenance, bridge repair and public transit—is predicted to go bankrupt later this year. When that happens, most states and dozens of metropolitan areas will lose …

Posted in Action, Reports, Transportation for America | 2 Comments