Tag: Transportation

Smart growth news – January 25, 2012

SGA in the News:

Anderson: Address the Housing Crisis’s Underlying Issues
Roll Call – January 25, 2012

In rebuilding our economy, lawmakers and the administration must take a concerted look at where America is going, with market demand and community support as the key indicators. Comprehensive housing and real estate finance policy change is the only solution that will promote economic recovery and enable the creation of great neighborhoods nationwide.

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Smart growth news – January 19, 2012

National News

U.S. mayors call for infrastructure spending and protection of grant programs
Orlando Sentinel – January 18, 2012

“The economic recovery is too slow, and it is a direct result of the inaction of this Congress in 2011,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “If we gave the 112th Congress a mid-term report card, the grade would be clear. Congress would get an ‘F.’”

Federal-State Meeting Planned to Rally for Foreclosure Accord
Bloomberg Business Week – January 19, 2012

State attorneys general are being invited to meet with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and a Justice Department official to rally support for a proposed settlement with banks over foreclosure practices, said the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.

Local News

Planning workshop brings circus atmosphere to Marin
Marin Independent Journal – January 19, 2012

The video’s narrator concluded with a call to action: “Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and work together to plan how the Bay Area might grow over the next 25 years?” “No,” a chorus of audience members shouted as private security guards and sheriff’s deputies stood by.

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Smart growth news – September 29

New Austin blueprint envisions new direction for growth
The Statesman (Texas), September 28, 2011
After two years of debates and committee meetings, Austin officials have unveiled a broad vision for growth that condemns traditional suburban development and is garnering both praise and skepticism.

Smart Growth Policies Face Overhaul
NJ Spotlight, September 28, 2011
The state is thinking about revamping its policies dealing with what projects receive financial incentives to reduce energy use in buildings, a change smart growth advocates fear will lead to further sprawl and loss of open space.

HUD grant would help homeowners in 4 Iowa counties
KTIV (Iowa), September 27, 2011
Residents that experienced tornado and damaging winds back in April may get some financial help from the federal government. The Siouxland Interstate Metropolitan Planning Council (SIMPCO) has submitted an application to the state of Iowa to help certain home owners whose homes were damaged from the strong winds.

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Upcoming Webinar: Transit Corridors for Sustainable Communities – Planning Transit to Connect the Dots

Join us Tuesday, August 23rd at 3:30 PM ET for the next Sustainable Communities Network webinar: “Transit Corridors for Sustainable Communities: Planning Transit to Connect the Dots.” This event is hosted by Smart Growth America, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America and the National Housing Conference.

The session will begin with a discussion of the different types of transit corridors and how what they connect can have significant implications for land uses, ridership, and the potential for development after the transit is built, including a description of examples of these different corridor types and how transit and land use have interacted in a few regions. Following that, participants will learn how planners in a small town in Colorado are making the transition from thinking about making a successful transit system to ensuring that the system is integrated into community life and makes inter-agency connections. The session will conclude with an overview of the innovative tools being used in a joint planning process between city staff in Tigard, OR, a suburb of Portland, and the regional planning agency to direct growth alongside a high capacity transit planning project in the city.

Speakers include Dena Belzer, President of Strategic Economics and partner in the Center for Transit-Oriented Development; Crista M. Gardner, Senior Planner at Portland Metro; and David Johnson AICP, Director of Planning, Roaring Fork Transportation Authority. This webinar will be moderated by Elizabeth Wampler, Program Associate at Reconnecting America and the Center for Transit-Oriented Development.

What: “Transit Corridors for Sustainable Communities – Planning Transit to Connect the Dots”
When: Tuesday, August 23, 2011 at 3:30 PM ET
Where: Webinar information will be sent to registrants.
RSVP: Click here to Register. Please RSVP by 5 PM ET on August 22nd.


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Transportation projects will stimulate new jobs

The unemployment rate is staying stubbornly above nine percent and the President is preparing to offer new ideas for job creations. Hopefully he will pay attention to what groups like the American Society of Engineers and Transportation for America are promoting: infrastructure and transportation will create good, sustainable jobs across the country.

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Living may actually be cheaper in the region’s core

Originally written by David Alpert and posted on Greater Greater Washington
August 3, 2011

The classic rule of thumb, “drive ’till you qualify,” holds that the farther you go from a city center, the cheaper the cost of living. But a new report shows how in the DC area, housing near the core and near transit stations can be cheaper when transportation costs are factored in.

The Office of Planning worked with the Center for Neighborhood Technology to customize their “H+T” housing and transportation index for our region, and to incorporate more recent American Community Survey data as well as Census data.

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“Slugging” saves DC/VA Drivers and Riders Time and Money

David LeBlanc started slugging in 1997 and has been doing it ever since. He’s such a strong slugging supporter that he wrote a short guide and system map for users and now runs the Slug Lines website which is dedicated to the idea.

“Slugging” is an innovative, grassroots form of commuting in Washington DC and Northern Virginia that helps commuters get in and out of the city easily and efficiently. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which require two or more passengers to use, provided the inspiration: drivers who would like to use the more efficient lanes pick up passengers – nicknamed “slugs” – and passengers, for their part, get a free and easy ride into the city. People almost always ride with strangers, but there’s a thriving community of devoted “sluggers.”

No one regulates or manages slugging; it’s a grassroots community of commuters who create carpools on the fly. A few other cities around the country have tried it to varying degrees, but it’s uniquely successful in the DC metro area. No one has ever conducted a formal survey or tally, but in 2007 the Virginia DOT pegged the number of daily sluggers at approximately 10,000 commuters.

LeBlanc visited Smart Growth America’s headquarters this week to discuss some of the frequently asked questions about slugging.

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New report reveals bike and pedestrian projects create more jobs than those for cars only

Bike lanes and sidewalks don’t just make streets safer and more convenient – they’re a good investment of transportation funds, too. A new report from the Policy Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that public investments in pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure – including sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails – create more jobs per dollar spent.

The report finds that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects create significantly more jobs than infrastructure projects for cars alone. According to the study, bicycle projects create 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46% more than car-only road projects. Job creation potential decreased as infrastructure dedicated to automobilies increased:

Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million, and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.


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Round Three: Your Stories About Avoiding the High Cost of Gas by Walking, Biking and Taking Public Transportation

A recent NBC poll found a whopping 69 percent say that high gas prices have affected them either “a great deal” or “quite a bit.” That was significantly higher than any other economic concern on the list– higher than rising food prices, foreclosures, or even unemployment.

When Smart Growth America asked for stories about the impact of high gas prices, a number of people told us about lifestyle choices they made so they wouldn’t be dependent on driving or severely affected by gas prices. Several people told us they chose to live in a place where walking, biking and public transportation were viable options because they wanted that kind of freedom for getting around. Here are some of their stories:

Seven years ago, when Patricia moved from “car-country California” to coastal North Carolina, gas prices were $1.38. But she said, regardless of the cost of filling up her tank, they wanted to live where they could walk or bike for most of their daily errands. Now gas prices have tripled. While she’s glad she’s not reliant on a car for most daily needs, her family is still carefully considering (and cancelling some) long-distance car trips. Patricia also noted that since gas prices started climbing she’s seen more people of all shapes and sizes out on their bikes– a trend she thinks is a good thing.

Steve from Kansas City told us “three years ago when my wife and I were considering buying a new house, availability of mass transit was a high priority and living in a ‘walkable neighborhood.’ We now live a half block from a bus stop and within 4 miles of my wife’s work. We regularly walk for errands or ride our bicycles.” Steve logged 3,500 miles on his bike last year (that means savings on gas and a gym membership!) and frequently rides the bus. He mentioned that now that gas prices have gone up he’s noticed many more bus riders, and he’s relieved that he and his wife don’t have to worry about gas prices too much.

When Gretchen moved to Boston last year, she got rid of her car. Gretchen pointed out that in addition to gas, she didn’t want to be beholden to maintenance, repairs and parking expenses too. It can be challenging to visit her family in New Hampshire where public transportation options are limited, but with some flexibility, carpooling, and building in extra travel time she’s been able to make due car-free and is happy with her decision.

As gas prices remain high, more and more Americans are looking to drive shorter distances or increase their transportation choices. The NBC poll is a reminder that even though gas prices have recently dropped 30 or 40 cents from their high earlier this year, this significant expense is still hurting household budgets across the country – and people are starting to make big changes in reaction to that. Part of Smart Growth America’s work is helping great communities have more low cost options for getting around, but we need to hear from you to do it. Read other stories about how people are dealing with the high cost of gas here and here, and click here to tell us your story.

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Round Two: Your Stories About the High Cost of Gas and Your Jobs

Rising gas prices and high levels of unemployment continue to weigh on the American economy. Smart Growth America asked for stories about how high gas prices are affecting your life, and we heard many stories about how expensive gas is making your professional life more challenging. With gas costing $4 gallon or more, workers are feeling the pain when it comes to commuting, meeting with clients around town, going to conferences, or even looking for a job.

  • A gallon of gas costs $4.11 for Carisa in Illinois, so in addition to carpooling more, she has to be very selective about which meetings and marketing events she absolutely must attend for work, and she said she’s still not getting to all of them. She’s reconsidering her attendance at some out of town conferences. She cannot reach her clients downtown without a car, so driving is a must for her.
  • An anonymous contributor from Northern California, where gas is $4.17 per gallon, is looking for a job and said the high gas prices are limiting the search.
  • Faced with $4.50 for a gallon of gas, Umi in Hawaii recently started carpooling the three-hour round-trip commute with a coworker. Even though the coworker’s shift ends an hour later, she “sacrifice[s] a little sleep and the personal convenience of leaving on my time table” to save money. Public buses are unreliable and intermittent in her hometown, and filling up just 3/4 of her tank costs more than $60.

A consistent theme throughout these stories is that transportation choices can help people and communities cope with rising gas prices. We’ve heard from people who are using public transportation or biking to work - or to look for work, for those who are unemployed - as driving becomes more expensive.

Part of Smart Growth America’s work is helping great communities have more low cost options for getting around when gas prices get too high, but we need to hear from you to do it. How much does gas cost in your area? What are you doing to cope with the high prices of gas? If you don’t drive often, or at all, how do you get around? Smart Growth America is helping more people have the option of shorter drives and more ways to get around when they want it. Click here to tell us your story.

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