Category: States

Making Complete Streets real in Maryland

Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MDMaryland local leaders participate in a walking tour to learn about Complete Streets in Mt. Rainier, MD.

Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a workshop titled “Making Complete Streets Real,” sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Councilmember Brent Bolin hosted the event at the Mount Rainer City Hall and gave an insider’s tour of local smart growth initiatives after the workshop.

Many of the leaders who attended the workshop are currently developing new Complete Streets policies, and the conversation focused heavily on how to move from policy adoption to effective implementation and talking publicly about the value of this work. Former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening noted, “It is important to make clear how Complete Streets relate to larger and deeper community goals.”

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A closer look at “Measuring Sprawl”: Street connectivity in Trenton, NJ

trenton-njThe Trenton, NJ MSA has a strong legacy of transportation investment. Photo via Flickr.

Trenton, NJ, received high marks for compactness and connectivity in our recent report, Measuring Sprawl 2014, and stood out as number one overall in street accessibility, one of four key factors examined in the report. As Measuring Sprawl 2014 explores, a high rating for compactness and connectivity correlates to a rise in several quality of life factors, including greater economic mobility, lower combined spending on housing and transportation costs and greater options for the type of transportation to take.

How did Trenton build and sustain its accomplishments in street accessibility? And how can other cities learn from Trenton’s successes?

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Councilman Jon Snyder on how Complete Streets are helping to improve Spokane, WA

Bike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via FlickrBike lanes in downtown Spokane. Photo by Orin Blomberg, via Flickr.

During his first term on the Spokane, WA City Council, Councilman Jon Snyder, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, experienced a lesson that he has carried with him since. “As a leader, you need to understand the difference between a policy that may take several years to develop, and those that represent a flaw in the system that should be called out and remedied quickly.”

Councilman Snyder worked for two years to pass a Complete Streets ordinance (PDF) in Spokane, a process that took time, perseverance and creativity. Snyder credits a broad coalition of support to the ordinance’s eventual passage in 2011: During the meeting where the City Council approved the ordinance, a diverse group of community members, including representatives from schools, older adults, persons with disabilities, the local farmers’ market, and businesses all spoke in favor of policy adoption.

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A closer look at “Measuring Sprawl”: Activity centering in Madison, WI

madison-wiMadison, WI has attracted businesses and residents to locate in its downtown by making it a great place to live, work and relax. Photo via Flickr.

Madison, WI, received high marks in our recent report Measuring Sprawl 2014—thanks in large part to the city’s efforts to focus development near downtown. How did the city achieve this success? And what can other communities learn from Madison’s example?

Factor in focus: Activity centering
Measuring Sprawl 2014 used four factors to evaluate development: density, land use mix, street connectivity and activity centering. Every major metro area in the country was evaluated on these factors, which were then combined to create a metro area’s overall Sprawl Index score.

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Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams on the challenges and opportunities of governing a rapidly urbanizing area

rsz_1rsz_6281804196_d5c3f601f2_bSalt Lake County, Utah. Photo by Photo Dean via Flickr.

Not every mayor can say that they govern nearly half of a state’s population in one single county. But that’s exactly the case for Ben McAdams, Mayor of Salt Lake County, Utah and member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council.

Salt Lake County, with a population of over 1 million people, is located in a narrow valley sandwiched between two mountain ranges. Population growth over the past decade has reshaped the County, particularly following the 2002 Winter Olympics. Throughout the county, isolated pockets of development amidst farmlands and open space has evolved into an interconnected urban area that is populated from north to south and east to west. That population is projected to double in the next 20 to 30 years.

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West Baltimore, MD hosts workshop on preparing for the Red Line and future transit-oriented development

harlem-parkWest Baltimore could see a lot of changes with the proposed Red Line stations. Harlem Park station model via baltimoreredline.com

A new transit line is slated to be built in West Baltimore, MD, and on March 15, 2014 Smart Growth America met with West Baltimore leaders to discuss how the community can make the most of this new neighborhood asset.

The March 15 workshop was designed to help West Baltimore plan for better development around several proposed Red Line stations. At the meeting public officials presented on programs targeted to address the existing challenges residents see in the neighborhood. Much of the discussion centered on how to attract development to the corridor in conjunction with the planned Red Line stations, as well as how to ensure that development is equitable, and serves the neighborhood’s current residents as well as the community’s broader needs.

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How a single parking space represents change in Ithaca, NY

Smart growth strategies are helping improve economic mobility in Ithaca, NY.Smart growth strategies at work in downtown in Ithaca, NY.

If you walk by the mayor’s office building in Ithaca, NY, you might notice a curious sight. Outside in the parking lot, in what once was a parking space reserved for the mayor, now lies what appears to be a small park—complete with benches, plantings and nearby bicycle parking. It may seem odd that a standing mayor would forgo his or her own reserved parking space to make way for a park, but that’s exactly what Mayor Svante Myrick did. The unconventional move is just one indication of Myrick’s commitment to smart growth strategies and how they can benefit all residents of the city.

Myrick is the mayor of Ithaca and a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council. First elected to Ithaca’s city council at the age of 20 and then to the mayor’s office in 2011 at the age of 24, Myrick saw the parking space outside his office as an opportunity to show residents it’s possible to think differently about their community—especially the role of public space, mobility and active streets.

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Hear the recap: Repair Priorities 2014 online discussion

Yesterday we unveiled Repair Priorities 2014: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads. The release featured an online discussion with leaders from Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, as well as state transportation department representatives from Vermont, Michigan and Tennessee. Panelists shared insights and strategies for how states are managing their road repair needs in a time of constrained budgets by using tools like asset management practices; focusing repair investments on the most heavily used roads; setting aggressive targets for pavement conditions; and using cost-benefit analysis to prioritize road investments.

If you were not able to join us for yesterday’s event, an archived recording is now available.

Watch the archived webinar
Download the presentation (PDF)

Joining yesterday’s event were Roger Millar, Vice President, Smart Growth America; Steve Ellis, Vice President, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Rich Tetreault, Director of Program Development, Vermont Agency on Transportation, Polly Kent, Administer, Intermodal Policy Division, Michigan Department of Transportation; and Steve Allen, Strategic Transportation Investments Director, Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Thank you to everyone who participated. The event provided valuable insights for how states can improve road conditions for drivers and the financial outlook of America’s DOTs at the same time.

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