Tag: Transportation

Council Member Vi Lyles on expanding transportation options in Charlotte, NC

lynx-light-railA planned expansion of the Blue Line on Charlotte’s LYNX light rail system will connect the center city to the NoDA art district and University of North Carolina Charlotte Campus. Photo by Reconnecting America, via flickr.

Charlotte is the largest city in the state of North Carolina, with a metropolitan area population of 2.3 million as of 2013. Over the last half century Charlotte’s economy grew primarily around the financial sector, and as the home of Bank of America’s headquarters, the former headquarters of Wachovia, and a host of Fortune 500 companies the city was the  second largest banking hub in the country when the economic recession hit in 2008. In recent years leaders in Charlotte have worked to make the city’s economy more resilient by cultivating and expanding other industries, particularly energy, logistics, defense and healthcare.

In line with these efforts, there is a growing movement among many city leaders to provide a high quality of life in Charlotte’s unique and diverse neighborhoods, which radiate out from the historic center city, in order to attract and retain new businesses and residents and promote Charlotte as a great place to live, work and play. At-Large City Council Member Vi Lyles, a member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to provide these neighborhoods with a greater variety of transportation options to help foster a sense of community and connection to the city among residents. “We are focusing on making Charlotte a place where people want to be. To do that, we have to provide those people with choices,” says Council Member Lyles.

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Councilmember Julie Palakovitch Carr on building around transit in Rockville, MD

Rockville Town SquareRockville Town Square in Rockville, MD. Photo by Dan Reed via flickr.

Located just outside Washington, DC to the northwest, suburban Rockville, MD is one of the largest municipalities in Maryland with a population just over 63,000. Rockville serves as the county seat of Montgomery County—the largest county in Maryland by population, with over 1 million residents.

Rockville’s Councilmember Julie Palakovich Carr, a member of the Maryland Chapter of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, is working to use transit access to help make Rockville a place with a unique identity and a strong sense of community. “Being a suburb of Washington, DC, we are struggling with traffic congestion and other issues that come with rapid growth and redevelopment,” she says. “A lot of it is just managing those things in a way that we are maintaining a good quality of life with nice neighborhoods where people can enjoy open space and parkland, while trying to envision a future where people may be using their cars less and people will be walking more and able to ride their bikes.”

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Capital Ideas conference will discuss innovative transportation funding legislation, Nov. 13-14 in Denver, CO

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As Congress has repeatedly postponed tough decisions on federal transportation funding, a handful of states have stepped up and passed new transportation funding legislation. In early 2015, a host of new state legislators and governors will be sworn in—and in many state capitols, transportation will be on the front burner.

Transportation advocates and legislators are invited to Capital Ideas: Raising Money for Transportation Through Innovative State Legislation on November 13-14, 2014 in Denver, CO. This two-day conference hosted by Transportation for America will explore new ways to raise money for transportation projects.

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Smarter parking codes to promote smart growth

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Unless you’re walking to your destination in a busy downtown neighborhood, chances are good that you need parking at the end of the trip. Nowadays, several cities are changing their thinking on parking regulations in response to the growing demand for car-light living.

Typically, parking rules are used to establish the minimum number of off-street private car parking spaces that must be provided in new residential and commercial developments. This helps manage traffic and congestion as new projects and more people come to the area, and it helps keep parking demand from overtaking supply over time. However, the following cities are modernizing their approach and tackling the parking issue in new ways.

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Financing Smart Growth

DC streetcar tracks

Great smart growth developments start with a vision and good planning, but to build the actual project local governments, real estate developers and community members must secure the necessary capital funding. Innovative ways to finance smart growth projects was one of the main topics discussed at the June 2014 LOCUS Leadership Summit in Washington, DC where members of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council and the LOCUS developers’ network met to talk about what it takes to bring a smart growth vision into reality.

Ben Miller, cofounder of Fundrise, believes that the real estate investment system is set up for very large investors and makes it nearly impossible for smaller investors to support local projects. “What if we squared the circle and let the community become both a capital resource and a partner in our real estate projects, so they would have some skin in the game?” posits Miller.

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City Councilor Tim Lovain on promoting transit-oriented development in Alexandria, VA

King Street metro station

In a few weeks, Northern Virginia’s first bus rapid transit service will begin operations on dedicated busways through Alexandria, VA’s burgeoning Potomac Yard neighborhood. A visitor standing under one of the new station awnings can see a string of cranes stretching from north to south along US Route 1, at work on the planned 3000 residential units, 4 million square feet of office space, and 1 million square feet of retail space along the transit corridor. Alexandria City Councilor Tim Lovain, who championed the busway as an essential tool to support high-density growth in this corridor, smiles broadly as he describes the accomplishment, but is even more interested in the transit lines still under development in the city.

Many of these transit projects are included in the Transportation Master Plan Councilor Lovain helped adopt in 2008 during his first term on the Council. In addition to the Route 1 corridor, that plan identified two more high-priority corridors where bus rapid transit will be developed in anticipation of future streetcar lines. Both of those corridors are in the City’s newer West End, which is characterized by car-oriented, lower density development. West End neighborhoods are more difficult to serve with transit, but Councilor Lovain makes the case for it as an essential tool for economic survival in the transit-rich metropolitan Washington, DC region.

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President Obama Calls on Congress to Save Highway Trust Fund

Yesterday afternoon in Washington, DC, President Obama called on Congress to adopt a long-term transportation bill on the scale of his recently proposed four-year, $302 billion program. In a speech in front of the Key Bridge in Georgetown, the president also appealed to Congress to save the Highway Trust Fund from pending insolvency, which would threaten jobs and the progress of vital transportation projects nationwide.

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Amanda Martinez is making strides to make Deerfield Beach, FL safer and more sustainable

deerfield-beach

Deerfield Beach was the first community in the state of Florida to adopt Complete Streets guidelines in 2013, and that’s just the start of the city’s efforts to grow sustainably, encourage active transportation and make streets safer for residents. Amanda Martinez, Interim Director of the City’s Planning and Development Services Department, is finding the right partnerships and opportunities to make these changes happen with limited funds.

Deerfield Beach is a suburban community located in Broward County, FL with a population of 78,000. The beachfront city is a popular destination for both permanent and seasonal residents including the region’s senior population.

Deerfield Beach’s village feel distinguishes it from many neighboring communities, yet like much of Broward County it is essentially built out. With just three percent vacant land, the city is now looking at how to accommodate future growth through infill development and redevelopment while preserving the village quality that residents love.

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Hernando, MS Mayor Chip Johnson on turning our home towns into healthy towns

Court_House_Hernando_MS

Hernando, Mississippi has grown considerably in the past decade. With its good schools, historic town square, and small town charm it’s not hard to understand why. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find what may be a whole other set of reasons that more and more people are choosing to call Hernando home. At the center of it all is Mayor Chip Johnson and his mission to change the dialogue on health in the state with the highest obesity rate in the country.

Research on the cumulative impacts of overweight children led Johnson, elected to the Mayor’s office in 2005, and others in city government to work to create an environment in Hernando where activity is implicit in the daily routine of residents.

The city passed design standards requiring sidewalks in all new development and redevelopment projects. This means new neighborhoods, especially those constructed during the last housing boom are connected to other parts of town.

A complete streets policy, championed by Johnson, requires new road construction to consider pedestrians and bicyclists. Today, many of the roads in Hernando include designated bike lines in addition to sidewalks and other pedestrian safety improvements.

Additionally,  a land use ordinance passed by the city requires developers set to aside 10% of their land as open space, which when coupled with the first parks department in Hernando’s history, created by Johnson in 2006, provides more recreation opportunities for residents.

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Alderman Jane Grover is working to make Evanston, IL “the most livable city” in America

A cycle track on Church St. in Evanston, IL.A cycle track on Church Street in Evanston, IL. Photo by Steven Vance, via Flickr.

“Our vision is to be the most livable city,” says Alderman Jane Grover of Evanston, IL. A member of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, Grover is full of enthusiasm for her city and the work being done there.

Evanston, IL is an urban community with a population of 74,000 located north of Chicago on Lake Michigan. Northwestern University, a major institutional anchor in the city, has helped spawn businesses and contributes to the culture and demographics of this progressive community.

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