House Transportation Bill slashes safety funding, but there's a chance to fix it

Today the House released its draft transportation bill to the public. Our colleagues at Transportation for America are still evaluating the overall bill, but we have a chance in the next 24 hours to help fix America’s bridges and restore the dedicated funding that makes our roads safer for people on foot or bike, which has been eliminated.

We need your help: tell your Representative to support two amendments that would restore funding for safe biking and walking, and make repairing our deficient bridges a priority.

The House committee that wrote the bill will vote on it Thursday morning, and they will decide in less than 48 hours what to change before approving it and moving it to the full House for a vote.

The bill fails to require states to put a priority on fixing the country’s 69,000 deficient bridges before spending money on new highways. In just the next 48 hours before the committee votes, there will be more than 565 million trips taken across deficient bridges in the U.S. That’s enough cars to line them up end to end from Los Angeles to Washington, D.C. and back…267 times.

Tell your Representative to support safety and repair amendments in the Transportation bill: click here to send a letter to your member of Congress.


No Complete Streets Measure in House Bill

With no Complete Streets provision, the just-released House Transportation bill ignores millions of Americans nationwide who want their transportation system to provide safe and convenient choices, such as walking, riding a bike, and catching a bus or train. This failure is in stark contrast to the bipartisan Complete Streets measure included in the Senate’s version of the bill.

Complete Streets

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces Fourth Round of Funding Under Highly Successful TIGER Program

Today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the availability of funding for transportation projects under a fourth round of the popular TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) Discretionary Grant program. TIGER 2012 will make $500 million available for surface transportation projects having a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area, or region.


Smart growth news – January 31, 2012

Train in Vain
Slate – January 27, 2012

The idiotic Department of Transportation rule that’s hobbled America’s mass transit—and the wonderful regulation that may soon replace it.

What Pictures Can Teach Us About Walkability
The Atlantic Cities – January 30, 2012

I’m not sure there is any one word that describes my concept of a sustainable community place more than walkability. At least when it comes to describing the physical aspects of a place. Is it safe, comfortable, and enjoyable to walk in? Does it have an abundance of places to walk to and from? Is it human-scaled? If the answer is yes, chances are that it also has many of the characteristics that smart growth and urbanist planners strive to achieve: density, mixed uses, connectivity, appropriate traffic management, street frontages, opportunity for physical activity, and so on.

House Republicans to unveil transportation bill
Washington Post – January 30, 2012

Spreading about $260 billion over a five-year span, the House proposal would continue to fund transportation programs at close to current levels.


Secretary Donovan Kicks off 2012 with a Sustainable Communities Call

On January 20, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan hosted a call which he began by reaffirming HUD’s commitment to the the Sustainable Communities Initiative. Secretary Donovan emphasized the vast impact the Regional Planning and Community Challenge grant programs have had across the country and noted the range of communities that received grants, many of which were … Continued


Smart growth news – January 30, 2012

National News:

The housing recovery that wasn’t
CNN-Fortune – January 30, 2012

These threats are very real. But there’s a bigger threat — and drag on any future recovery — that doesn’t get nearly the attention it deserves: rising interest rates.

GOP Candidates Pursue Risky Hands-Off Housing Policy in Florida, Nevada
National Journal – January 29, 2012

Pressed during last week’s two presidential debates, the candidates argued for a free-market approach. “Let capitalism work. Allow these banks to realize their losses,” said Rick Santorum. Pennsylvania’s former senator then said he would give homeowners tax deductions on losses incurred by selling their houses.

A Time of Transformation in Housing and Transportation
Nation’s Cities Weekly – January 2012

People who earn large cash profits from developing residential and commercial real estate suggest that retiring baby-boomers and young couples with or without children want to live in walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. “We in real estate are fundamentally re-tooling how we design, plan, regulate and finance to serve this pent-up demand,” says land use developer and strategist Chris Leinberger.


Smart growth news – January 27, 2012

National News:

New Jersey Attempting to Get a Handle on Development
Wall Street Journal – January 27, 2012

After more than two decades of sprawling suburban growth and state agency feuds that led to chaotic regional-planning efforts, the Christie administration is pushing a new vision for future development in New Jersey.

Does Obama Finally Have a Plan to Fix the Housing Mess?
Time – January 27, 2012

In the end, without the backing of Congress all these proposals will more than likely end up being nothing more than a campaign tool for Obama, allowing him to claim that he’s at least trying to alleviate some of the economic hurt brought on by the collapse of the real estate market.

Much heat, little light on housing in Florida debate
Reuters – January 27, 2012

Republicans presidential candidates have taken a hands-off policy on the U.S. housing crisis. At a debate on Thursday in Florida, it devolved into finger pointing.

Local News:

Trackside Developments Catch On
New York Times – January 26, 2012

MORE than a century ago, before the term “transit-oriented development” entered the urban-planning glossary, plenty of it was being built in Westchester: clusters of housing, shops and sometimes industrial buildings close to railroad stations.


With rapid growth, there's no better time for tomorrow than today in Iowa

The population of Central Iowa is growing fast, and it needs new strategies for development if it wants to turn that growth into prosperity.

That was the theme of a presentation earlier this month by Bill Fulton, Smart Growth America’s Vice President of Policies and Programs. Fulton spoke to a group of elected officials, members of the board of Des Moines’ Metropolitan Planning Organization and other interested residents about how the region can use smart growth strategies to provide better housing and transportation options for its residents in years to come – and protect public budgets in the process.


Smart growth news – January 26, 2012

Trending News: Obama and Housing

A Better Way to Fix the Housing Market?
New York Times – January 25, 2012

In his State of the Union address, President Obama announced the creation of a joint federal-state unit to investigate mortgage abuses and outlined a proposal to reduce the monthly payments of homeowners whose mortgage debts exceed the value of their homes. There are, of course, many ideas like this and others for mortgage relief, but which are the most promising to restore the housing market and revive the economy?

Analysts: Refinancing Plan ‘Dead on Arrival’?
Wall Street Journal Developments Blog – January 25, 2012

Edward Mills, analyst, FBR Capital Markets: “We believe that this program would be dead on arrival in Congress, as congressional Republicans are opposed to additional intervention in the mortgage market and are philosophically opposed to a bank tax. This should be confirmation that the administration realizes that a mass-refinance program can only be achieved by legislation and not by regulatory fiat.”

A Mortgage Investigation
New York Times – January 25, 2012

There is good reason to be skeptical. To date, federal civil suits over mortgage wrongdoing have been narrowly focused and, at best, ended with settlements and fines that are a fraction of the profits made during the bubble. There have been no criminal prosecutions against major players. Justice Department officials say that it reflects the difficulty of proving fraud — and not a lack of prosecutorial zeal. That is hard to swallow, given the scale of the crisis and the evidence of wrongdoing from private litigation, academic research and other sources.

New Housing Task Force Will Zero In on Wall St.
New York Times – January 25, 2012

The unit, announced by President Obama in the State of the Union address on Tuesday night, while Mr. Schneiderman looked on from a prime seat behind Michelle Obama, is the latest in a string of efforts undertaken by the administration over the last three years to prosecute crimes related to the financial crisis, bolster the housing market and help homeowners who are suffering under unaffordable mortgages.