Smart growth news – June 9, 2011

Report: Deferred road repair poses financial liability
American City and County, June 6, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report, “Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads,” examines road conditions and spending priorities nationwide and recommends changes at both the state and federal levels that the organization says can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

U.S. Road Expansion Costing Taxpayers
The City Fix blog, June 8, 2011
A smaller initial investment in renewed priorities of road maintenance actively reduces the scale of future costs, found a new report by Smart Growth America. “Rehabilitating a road that has deteriorated is substantially more expensive than keeping that road in good condition,” the report says.

Scrimping on highway repairs leaves states in a bind, June 8, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Metro Detroit’s bus system fight may risk millions
Detroit Free Press, June 8, 2011
Metro Detroit has its most realistic chance in a generation of creating a rail and bus transit system that could transform how the region commutes and launch economic redevelopment from downtown to the suburbs. But if Detroit and tri-county leaders can’t agree on combining city and suburban bus systems — an ambition that has eluded the region for decades — they risk forfeiting millions in federal money.


Former Md. Gov. Glendening says strong ag is essential to smart growth

Crossposted from Farmland Preservation Report.
Originally written by Bob Heuer

Buy-in from farmland owners on suburbia’s edge can accelerate efforts to create compact, walkable communities in metropolitan regions nationwide. So says Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute. This Washington-based non-profit agency helps local governments implement strategies that target housing and transportation investment near jobs, shops and schools.

Parris Glendening, who was a University of Maryland professor for 27 years,  speaking on smart growth in 2006 (Wikipedia photo)

Stable urban-edge farm economies will encourage urban reinvestment by acting as a market-based firewall to impede suburbia’s outward march, according to Glendening—a national leader for smart growth during two terms as governor of Maryland, serving from 1995 to 2003.

The Glendening administration created a number of innovative incentives for local governments to encourage more compact patterns of development. Maryland’s Rural Legacy Program, one of Glendening’s most successful programs, has preserved large blocks of agricultural and natural land. Less successful was a law that targeted state assistance to “priority funding areas”—i.e. urbanizing locales that met smart growth criteria.

“I used to say the best tool against sprawl is a prosperous agricultural community,” Gov. Glendening recalls. “People who are opposed to sprawl often don’t understand the importance of farmers remaining economically viable. And the ag community was often hostile towards smart growth. They view their land as their own IRA and want to protect their right to the very logical alternative of selling for development.”

Maryland’s initiatives helped boost local farm economies by expanding both the supply and demand for farmers markets products. Yet, the focus on environmental outcomes like open space and habitat protection sparked a political impasse.


U.S. mayors say no to new revenue for transportation without reform

Crossposted from Transportation for America’s blog.

A supermajority of America’s mayors surveyed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors are clamoring for a reorientation in our nation’s transportation policy toward fixing what we have and investing in new options.

Ninety-eight percent of mayors identified affordable, reliable transit as crucial to their city’s recovery and growth, according to a survey of 176 mayors unveiled this week by Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (right) on behalf of the Conference.

Commanding majorities favor an increase in the federal gasoline tax, but only if more funding is allocated to transit, biking and walking, and local governments are given greater discretion over project selection. Eighty-percent said new highway projects should be a low priority, preferring to focus on repairing and maintaining what we have. Federal financing tools like Build America Bonds or the TIFIA programs receive the support of 75 percent of mayors.

The mayors also agree with T4 America that finding new revenue sources for a larger transportation bill without changing any policies is a non-starter. Just 7 percent of respondents said they would support a gas tax increase without a shift in priorities.


Walker’s great train robbery sticks us with a $60 million bill

This post was written by Smart Growth America coalition member 1000 Friends of Wisconsin and was originally published on

Last December (seems like years ago today) thousands of protesters decried then Governor-elect Walker’s decision to reject $810 million in federal dollars to construct a high-speed rail system in Wisconsin that would link Madison to Milwaukee and Chicago.

Protests were held not just in Madison and Milwaukee but in smaller towns like Waterloo that would gain economically from the rail investment. Among the suspect reasons that Mr. Walker gave for rejecting the aid was that the state couldn’t afford the annual operating costs of the federal gift.

The amount that the state “couldn’t afford” came to about $600,000 a year after federal matching subsidies. So the state ended up losing nearly a billion dollars of federal aid, thousands of engineering and construction jobs, a newly located train manufacturer in Milwaukee and countless dollars and jobs that would have occurred as a result of transit oriented development.


Smart Growth America Applauds President Obama for Budget Provisions that Strengthen Communities

President Obama today unveiled a budget proposal for fiscal year 2012 that includes strategic investments in America’s economic competitiveness and promotes long-term economic growth. Geoffrey Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, issued the following statement in response:

“The President’s proposed budget rightfully acknowledges the difficult financial times we as a country are facing. Many provisions propose spending the federal government’s limited funds in smarter ways that will help make the towns, cities and regions in our country more economically effective. Several aspects of the proposed budget focus on programs that will catalyze job creation and economic growth in the United States and we applaud the Obama Administration for putting taxpayer dollars to such good use.

“Smart growth is about building neighborhoods that work for the people who live there – meaning rural, suburban and urban communities with more housing and transportation choices near jobs, shops and schools where people want them. These are places where strong economies and a healthy environment can both thrive at once. Places where community leaders choose to get the most out of each federal or state dollar invested in the neighborhoods. Where the private sector can help jump-start the local real estate market in a way that is right for that unique community. Where we make decisions to save money in our municipal budgets and in our own wallets and invest for the future.


What do you LOVE about your Neighborhood?

It’s that time of year – time to show some LOVE!

So tell us, what do you LOVE about your neighborhood?

1000 Friends of Wisconsin has been working for over 15 years to promote Great Neighborhoods.  Please share with us what you love about your neighborhood and what makes it a Great Neighborhood!

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