Senators Schatz, Markey, and Merkley introduce Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act

A new bill introduced today in the Senate would help local communities better capitalize on development opportunities near public transportation by providing financing support in the form of loans or loan guarantees under the highly successful the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI), Senator Ed Markey (D-MA), and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) introduced the Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act, a bill which would add a new provision to TIFIA to include financing for transit-oriented development projects. In response, Christopher Coes, Director of LOCUS, released the following statement.

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A transportation engineer on what convinced him to use a Complete Streets approach

west-jefferson“Crazy ideas” in action: Complete Streets features in downtown West Jefferson, NC.

On Tuesday we hosted a panel discussion about Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research from the National Complete Streets Coalition on the outcomes of Complete Streets projects across the country. If you missed the event, read our full recap and watch the recorded webinar.

Dean Ledbetter, a Senior Engineer at the North Carolina Department of Transportation (NCDOT), joined the panel to discuss the Complete Streets project in downtown West Jefferson, NC. There were so many questions about working with transportation engineers, and for Dean specifically, that we said down with him for a follow-up conversation.

Alex Dodds: You mentioned that you initially thought that Complete Streets was a “crazy idea,” but that eventually you changed your mind. What convinced you?
Dean Ledbetter: I don’t know if there was one specific thing. I think I had to go through the [Federal Highway Administration’s] training several times for the reality of something new to overpower the existing “knowledge” I had about what my job was supposed to be. And I have to admit that we only went to those classes to get the free Professional Development Hours not because we really expected to learn anything useful.

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Get the recap: “Safer Streets, Stronger Economies” webinar and discussion

On Tuesday, the National Complete Streets Coalition released Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, new research that analyzes data from 37 Complete Streets projects across the country, and explores the outcomes communities got for their investment. As part of the release the Coalition hosted a panel discussion to discuss the findings, and to highlight communities included in the report. A recording of the webinar is now available.

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First regional LOCUS Leadership Summit brings deals and groundbreaking research to New England

newenglandsummitblogpanel

On March 11, more than 175 real estate professionals from the greater Boston area came together for the 2015 LOCUS New England Leadership Summit: Closing the Next [Smart Growth] Deal.

Massachusetts Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development Secretary Jay Ash kicked off the day’s events with an opening plenary on the future of housing in Massachusetts. Secretary Ash discussed the state’s successes and challenges when it comes to creating walkable communities. “We ought to make sure to prepare communities for success,” Ash said. “There are opportunities across the Commonwealth, and my challenge to developers is to think big.”

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Neighborhood revitalization workshop teaches Maryland leaders new strategies and ways to overcome challenges

Maryland revitalization workshopLocal leaders from Western Maryland and Maryland’s Eastern Shore discuss revitalization challenges and successes.

Nearly twenty members of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council gathered in Silver Spring, MD on Friday, March 13 for a Revitalizing Downtowns and Regional Centers for the Triple Bottom Line workshop sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Montgomery County Councilmember Hans Riemer, an Advisory Board member of the Maryland Chapter, sponsored the event at the Silver Spring Civic Building in the heart of Downtown Silver Spring.

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New research outlines five reasons to build Complete Streets

What have communities gotten for their investments in Complete Streets?

Fewer automobile collisions and injuries, and more people biking, walking, and taking transit. These projects were inexpensive yet can be effective, and were related to broader economic gains.

These are the findings of Safer Streets, Stronger Economies, released today by Smart Growth America’s National Complete Streets Coalition. The new report analyzes data from 37 Complete Streets projects across the country, and explores the outcomes communities got for their investment. Our new research finds:

Streets were usually safer: Automobile collisions declined in 70 percent of projects, and injuries declined in 56 percent of projects.
This safety has financial value: Within our sample, Complete Streets improvements collectively averted $18.1 million in total collision costs in just one year.
The projects encouraged multimodal travel: Complete Streets projects nearly always resulted in more biking, walking, and transit trips.
Complete Streets projects are cheap: The average cost of a Complete Streets project was just $2.1 million—far less than the $9 million average cost of projects in state transportation improvement plans. 
They can be an important part of economic development: Our findings suggest that Complete Streets projects were supportive of increased employment, net new businesses, higher property values, and new private investment.

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A new bill in Congress would create new financing option for transit-oriented development

booker-tod

Transit-oriented development (TOD) can make it easier for people to live and work near public transportation. These places are in high demand and real estate developers are eager to build them, but because they’re often complicated TOD projects can be difficult to secure financing for.

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Department of Planning Executive Director Rick Bernhardt on community engagement for a better Nashville, TN

rbernhardtRick Bernhardt, right, discusses different development strategies with Nashville residents. Photo by NashvilleNext via Twitter.

Nashville, TN, is a creative city with a rich history in the arts that has recently seen new growth in both its population and economy. Rick Bernhardt, the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Nashville-Davidson County Planning Department and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to make sure the city’s development supports that growth.

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Now Hiring: Communications Fellow for LOCUS Coalition

Smart Growth America seeks a Communications and Policy Fellow to support LOCUS, a national network of smart growth real estate developers and investors. The Fellow will be a core member of the LOCUS team and provide direct support to the LOCUS network of real estate developers and investors advocating for smart growth policies at the federal and regional levels.

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Complete Streets News – March 2015

Photo by San Francisco Bicycling Coalition

Read

Safer streets, stronger economies — How well do Complete Streets projects achieve transportation goals like safety and throughput? How do they support broader economic efforts? Our new report, out on March 24, looks at data from dozens of Complete Streets projects from across the country to compare the outcomes communities get from their investments. On Tuesday, join our online discussion to hear from Seattle, North Carolina’s Department of Transportation, the Central Florida Partnership, and the Mayor of Normal, Illinois. Register today >>

Evaluating Complete Streets projects — In tandem with our Safer Streets, Stronger Economies report, we’ve developed an introductory guide on how agencies can measure the impact of Complete Streets projects. The guide includes a comprehensive list of relevant measures and metrics related to access, safety, economic impact, the environment, and quality of place. It’s out on March 31, with a webinar featuring an expert panel. Register today >>

USDOT Mayors’ Challenge update — On March 12, the U.S. Department of Transportation kicked-off a year of action on improving safety for people walking and bicycling in cities nationwide by hosting an all-day summit at DOT headquarters in Washington, DC. As of last week, nearly 190 communities have signed on. Nearly 70 have already committed to Complete Streets by adopting a policy and several more have already stated their intentions to adopt a policy as part of the Challenge. Read more about the summit >>

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