Tag: Texas

Partnership in the news: Smart Growth in the Military

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In 2010 the North Central Texas Council of Governments (NCTCOG) was awarded $640,000 for the Planning for Livable Military Communities project to provide improved transportation and housing conditions for families in the US armed forces. The award comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Challenge Grant, which is an initiative of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.
North Central Texas is home to Naval Air Station Fort Worth, Joint Reserve Base. Many of the military families live off base, in surrounding communities including Fort Worth, White Settlement, Westworth Village and River Oaks. Planners intend to use the community challenge grant in a number of studies aimed at integrating smart growth strategies in the surrounding communities.

The NCTCOG will conduct a number studies that will create short- and long-term recommendations to improve transportation options, establish a model building code for greater energy efficiency, and update the City’s zoning, ordinances and comprehensive plan.

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Partnership in the news: Dallas seeks to improve and expand regional transit network


With assistance from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, the city of Dallas, TX will make significant improvements to its downtown transit system over the next few years with the construction of the Modern Streetcar and Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART) Orange Line extension. Both projects received funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant program.

Modern Streetcar

With a $23 million TIGER I grant and additional funding from the City of Dallas, North Central Texas Council of Governments and DART, Dallas will soon have a streetcar network that connects residents and visitors to core areas of the city. Dallas’ modern streetcar network will be a 1.6 mile route connecting various downtown districts and destinations including Union Station, with connections to the DART Red and Blue lines and the Dallas Convention Center. The streetcar will connect walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods in the urban core, act as a catalyst for economic development and serve as a quick, efficient and cost-effective means of transportation. The street car is currently in the environmental review phase but is on track for beginning operation in 2017.

DART Orange Line Extension

DART, the region’s rapid transit agency, will soon extended its light rail service to over 90 miles of track in 2014 with the completion of the 14.5 mile Orange Line extension to the Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport. DART operates both rail and bus services for downtown Dallas and 12 surrounding cities. Ridership on the DART light rail is among the busiest in the country with over 27.7 million passenger trips in 2012 and the extension of the Orange line will provide a much needed alternative transit option for residents and visitors. Part of the $5 million TIGER grant will go towards the construction of a rail terminal at the Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW), which will include a train platform, passenger walkways, and a bus transfer station. This terminal will also be a connection to the TEX commuter rail system, expected to be completed in 2016. DFW is a major employer for the region and these projects will ensure that residents can get to and from work with a reliable, safe and affordable transit system.

Together, these projects are going to enhance the accessibility of the Dallas/Fort Worth region, making it easier for residents to be connected to where they live, work and play.

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Carlos Gallinar on building a stronger El Paso, TX with Plan El Paso

Last year, El Paso, TX’s comprehensive plan Plan El Paso was named the Best Smart Growth Plan by the Atlantic Cities and honored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for achievement in smart growth. Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council sat down with Carlos Gallinar, El Paso’s Deputy Director for City Development and Planning, to learn what El Paso is doing to become one of the premier cities of the Southwest.

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600 manufacturing jobs return to Liberty, Texas with the help of Brownfields Tax Incentive

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The Boomerang Tube Manufacturing Facility in Liberty, TX. Photo courtesy via Brinkmann Constructors.

Liberty, TX is one of the many communities where the federal Brownfields Tax Incentive has brought new jobs to formerly abandoned industrial plants.

The National Tube and Pipe (later Allied Pipe and Tube) opened in Liberty in 1973 and eventually became the largest employer in the town. When the company closed in 1993, it left behind a 492,000 square-foot manufacturing facility contaminated with PCBs, asbestos, a polluted retention pond and petroleum.

In 2009 Boomerang Tube, a manufacturer of pipe and tubes for oil and gas customers, announced its intent renovate and expand the old National Tube and Pipe factory into a new, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility. The project would bring 350 manufacturing jobs back to Liberty in the process. Boomerang Tube had one significant hurdle, though: an estimated $1.2 million in cleanup costs.

The federal Brownfields Tax Incentive program helped make cleanup feasible for Boomerang. The Tax Incentive effectively limited the impact of cleanup costs on the development budget. Tax abatement and other local incentives also factored in, and Access Industries provided financing for the project. All of this helped clear the way for a $200 million investment in the plant and equipment.

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Houston hosts workshop on implementing Complete Streets

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Local residents and officials in Houston, TX  met with representatives from Smart Growth America on April 17 and 18, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops aimed to give Houston the tools to develop a Complete Streets policy in their Museum Park Neighborhood, which will lay the foundation for future Complete Streets policies in other neighborhoods throughout the city.

“Museum Park, in partnership with the City of Houston’s Office of Sustainability anticipates that the Complete Streets workshop will take Houston a step closer to achieving a few of Mayor Parker’s stated goals for her second term, such as “sustainable development, public safety, infrastructure and quality of life,” said Kathleen O’Reilly, Vice President of the Museum Park Super Neighborhood. “Museum Park, with its mix of 14 museums, Hermann Park, 3,000 homes, schools, health care, churches and more offers the ideal mix to craft the highest standards for transit and quality of life in Houston. As we launch ReBuild Houston, the timing of this exciting collaborative effort couldn’t be better.”

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City of Port Isabel, TX to host workshop next week on implementing smart growth strategies

Port Isabel, TXCity of Port Isabel officials and local residents will meet with representatives from Smart Growth America on May 21 and 22, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshop will aim to give Port Isabel the tools it needs to leverage community assets and create a sustainable growth plan for the city.

“Port Isabel’s history and character set us apart, and the City works hard to maintain those assets,” said Mayor Joe E. Vega. “We want to make sure Port Isabel stays a great place to live and visit for generations to come and we want to do that in the best way possible. That’s what next week’s workshop is about.”

City of Port Isabel residents are invited to join the workshop’s first day for an introductory presentation that will feature a broad overview of strategies for implementing smart growth strategies. The event will be held Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 6:30–8:00 PM at the Port Isabel City Hall, 305 East Maxan Street, Port Isabel 78578.

“Smart Growth America is committed to providing training to help community leaders keep cities and towns livable, sustainable and vital places,” said Roger Millar, Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. “Port Isabel has the potential to create and implement great sustainable plans for the future of their city. This workshop will give city officials the tools needed to start a conversation about smart growth strategies and the value it can bring to their community.”

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Partnership in the News: Corpus Christi’s Nueces River Rail Yard

Port of Corpus Christi

Commissioners at the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas have approved a grant agreement to expand rail service at the port with a new rail yard. The project is made possible in part by a $10 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant, awarded to Corpus Christi in June, 2012. The TIGER grant program is part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) commitment to fund projects that have significant impacts nationally and locally.

The grant will fund Phase I construction of the Nueces River Rail Yard, which will have capacity for 335 rail cars. The expanded capacity will help the port meet its new shipping demands from recent growth in project cargo shipping for major wind power components. The project is projected to “reduce carbon emissions by about 398,000 tons and save $7.4 million in highway maintenance costs by eliminating 678,000 truck trips during the next 30 years, according to a transportation department fact sheet.”

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HUD’s Sustainable Communities grants are helping communities – and getting an impressive return on investment

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities (OSHC) has already helped hundreds of towns and cities across the country become economically stronger, environmentally sustainable, and more inclusive through its workshops, technical resources and grant programs. As a new report explains, these programs are also making the most of federal investments.

OSHC’s 2011 accomplishments update explains that the Office’s 152 grants in 48 states, totaling $240 million, generated almost $253 million in private investments and commitments from local partners. The Sustainable Communities grants, one of the major grant programs administered by the Office, generated $115 million in matching and in-kind contributions – more than 120% of the original $95.8 million invested.

The Office’s accomplishments report is a compendium of some of the most interesting smart growth projects in the works today.

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Smart Growth Stories: Susie Byrd on planning and growth in El Paso, Texas

El Paso, Texas, is split by a mountain and bordered by Mexico, and Susie Byrd is helping the city build great neighborhoods around these unique features.

Byrd is a City Council Representative in El Paso, and has represented District 2 since 2005. During her time as a Representative, Byrd has led numerous efforts to preserve the best parts of El Paso’s historic corridors while also transforming the city into a model of 21st-century success. Her leadership has helped lead to the adoption of a city-wide Smart Code (PDF), a new Rapid Transit System, and an innovative comprehensive plan for El Paso’s growth in coming decades. Plan El Paso has already been called the best smart growth plan in America, and it’s hardly a coincidence that an experienced, knowledgeable supporter like Byrd is behind it.

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Partnership in the News: HUD officials visiting Texas witness economic development in action

During a recent trip to seven Sustainable Communities grantees in Texas, Department of Housing and Urban Development staff were able to see new and innovative economic development strategies in action. They visited Regional Planning grantees Houston-Galveston Area Council and Heart of Texas Council of Governments near Waco, as well as Austin, which received both Regional Planning and Community Challenge grants, and other Community Challenge grantees Dallas, Fort Worth, and Garland.

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