When the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed revisions to its rule governing design standards for the National Highway System (NHS), it offered minimal instruction for the development and integration of appropriate walking, bicycling, and transit facilities.
Communities across the country are eager to build more homes and offices near transit stations. These projects can create walkable neighborhoods, and great returns on public investment, but are often complicated and difficult to finance.
A new bill in Congress could make financing these projects easier. The Transit Oriented Development Infrastructure Financing Act would add new provision to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) to include financing for transit oriented development projects.
TIFIA already provides loans, not subsidies, to eligible transportation projects. The new provision would go a step further to make loans available for transit oriented development infrastructure projects as well.
The Senate needs to hear your support for this program. In the coming weeks, Congress will consider whether or not this provision should be included in the next federal transportation bill.
Transit oriented development is a fiscally sound way to leverage private sector dollars and create new homes and office space near transit. These projects can revitalize neighborhoods and support broader economic growth, but we need innovative programs like this to make it happen.
As Congress prepares to consider the next federal transportation bill, now is the time to voice your support for development near transit. Send a letter to your Senators today.
The Rust Belt Theory of Low-Cost High Culture
Slate — January 1, 2015
I’ve come to expect affordable cultural opportunities in the year since my family and I returned to Baltimore after five years of living in the suburbs of Washington. In fact, Baltimore’s strikingly affordable arts scene is one of the many reasons why we decided to move back, even if it was going to mean a longer commute to our jobs in D.C.
17 U.S. Cities on Track for Hottest Year in 2014
The Weather Channel — December 31, 2014
The globe is on track for its warmest year on record. But global average temperature watchers won’t be the only ones feting record heat when the clock strikes midnight on Wednesday. A number of U.S. urban areas will also join in the record-setting festivities, while not a single major urban area will be raising a glass to record cold. In fact, it’s been nearly 30 years since a major U.S. city had a record cold year.
Here Are the Equity Storylines You Need to Follow in 2015
NextCity — December 31, 2014
While indicators like unemployment and gas prices have shown promising signs in recent months, stark inequality remains as a key feature of the American economy. In the coming year, here are the stories to follow if you want to know whether things are getting better or worse for low-income, urban communities.
Transit-Oriented Development Adds Value And Affordability For Residents
CleanTechnica — January 2, 2014
Transit-oriented development has been promoted by urban planners for ages. It was a hot and fun topic when I was in graduate school for city planning. It’s completely logical and beneficial to humans… those who live in transit-oriented communities and those who don’t.
Pullman Square in downtown Huntington, WV. Photo by Nicholas Eckhart via Flickr.
On August 5 and 6, 2014, Huntington, WV officials and local residents met with representatives from Smart Growth America as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The city recently updated its comprehensive plan, Plan 2025, and this workshop aimed to provide Huntington with tools and techniques to implement Plan 2025’s vision of reinvestment in local infrastructure, housing and businesses. The workshop focused on how shifting development patterns towards more compact, transit-oriented development could benefit the local economy and local government finances.
“The City of Huntington is committed to seeking the tools and training to help develop strategies that reduce negative outcomes from a combined stormwater and sanitary system and encourage quality housing, and business development,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “We’re excited to work with Smart Growth America to find solutions to these and other local issues that will make our city even more attractive in the future.”
How compact cities help curb climate change
The Washington Post — September 22, 2014
As the world urbanizes at break-neck speed, the way we design growing cities will heavily determine the environmental impact of the people who live there. And decisions we make today about where and how to invest in transportation will lock in those impacts for decades.
On a Warmer Planet, Which Cities Will Be Safest?
The New York Times — September 22, 2014
Scientists trying to predict the consequences of climate change say that they see few safe havens from the storms, floods and droughts that are sure to intensify over the coming decades. But some regions, they add, will fare much better than others.
Creating Better and More Sustainable Cities
The Huffington Post — September 22, 2014
The world’s cities are growing by 1.4 million people every week. This remarkable demographic shift is creating densely populated communities that can be centers of innovation and economic opportunity. These cities can also be healthier for people, with cleaner air, and more resilient to climate change, but only if urban leaders with real influence have the vision to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
Federal officials announce $3.6 billion in funding for Sandy-related transportation projects
Penn Live — September 22, 2014
Federal officials have announced $3.6 billion to make public transportation more storm resistant in New York, New Jersey and other parts of the country damaged by Superstorm Sandy. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and other officials announced the funding for 40 projects Monday standing by New York City’s South Ferry station.
A view of downtown Spokane. Photo by Mike Hoy, via Flickr.
In Spokane, WA safer streets and neighborhood vibrancy are going hand in hand. City Council Member Candace Mumm has a new crosswalk ordinance aimed at serving the community for both purposes. The ordinance – which passed with a 5 to 1 vote on September 8 – will require marked crosswalks to be installed at intersections adjacent to schools, parks, hospitals, trail crossings, and other high pedestrian traffic-generating locations.
Chicago’s skyline at night. Photo by Jon Herbert, via Flickr.
Climate action plans—sets of strategies designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and other negative environmental impacts—play a critical role in realizing a community’s sustainability vision. While dozens of cities have such plans, few have the supplemental programs to set them in motion. However, there are leader communities that are making notable efforts on implementation. Chicago, IL and Boulder, CO are two of those cities, and they are using benchmarking and pricing to reduce carbon emissions.
Maryland local leaders participate in a walking tour of historic Downtown Frederick, MD.
Nearly two dozen Maryland members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council met last Thursday for a Downtown Revitalization Strategies workshop sponsored by Smart Growth America and 1000 Friends of Maryland. Frederick, MD Mayor Randy McClement hosted the event, providing an in-depth look at the city’s revitalization successes. Following the workshop, Richard Griffin, Director of Economic Development, and Kara Norman, Executive Director of the Downtown Frederick Partnership, led participants on a tour of Downtown Frederick that highlighted revitalization initiatives.
Mayor McClement kicked off the workshop by describing the core of Frederick’s approach to revitalization. “The City’s concentration is on Downtown Frederick. Although Frederick is not just a downtown, but 20 square miles, the downtown is the thing that drives the city.” He continued by asserting that much of Frederick’s success owes to strong partnerships. “You cannot underestimate the power of partnerships. Find them, enhance them, and use them. Every city has groups that are interested in standing up to help,” he said.