Smart growth news- June 7, 2012

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U.S. highway bill talks skid into critical month
Reuters- June 5, 2012
With a deadline approaching for a massive U.S. spending bill for roads, bridges and rail projects, Senate and House negotiators have not yet addressed the 1,700-mile-long elephant in the room – whether to fast-track the Keystone oil pipeline as part of the plan.

City wants to turn streets, alleys, plazas into outdoor fun spots
Chicago Sun-Times- June 6, 2012
Designated Chicago streets, alleys, plazas and parking lanes may soon be painted blue with campy white footprints and filled with public seating, music, farmer’s markets and other seasonal activities.

Zipcar Brings Car Sharing to DC Housing Authority
Market Watch- June 7, 2012
Mayor Vincent Gray, the DC Housing Authority (DCHA) and Zipcar today announced that Zipcar, the world’s leading car sharing network, is expanding car sharing availability to DCHA public housing sites across the District to provide alternative transportation options for local residents.

ADOT presented with State Leadership Award for transit programs
San Tan Valley Today (AZ)- June 6, 2012
The Arizona Department of Transportation’s Multimodal Planning Division was recently honored with the 2012 State Leadership Award by the Community Transportation Association of America at its annual conference in Baltimore. The award recognizes one state DOT for its service to transit riders, while providing innovative technical assistance, initiating responsive training, and pushing for timely advocacy at the state and local levels.

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Smart growth news- June 6, 2012

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Reid, GOP brawl over highway bill
The Hill- June 5, 2012
Congressional negotiations over a highway bill took an acrimonious turn on Tuesday as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) accused House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) of thwarting the legislation in a bid to harm the economy.

The office is shrinking as tech creates workplace everywhere
USA Today- June 5, 2012
Technology, the urge to go green, telecommuting and a generation of workers who grew up with smartphones in their hands and computers in their laps are revamping the work culture. Companies are knocking down walls, even dismantling cubicles to create a free-flowing layout that many believe gets the creative juices flowing and encourages collaboration.

Sharp Transit Cuts Pinch Riders and Employers
Wall Street Journal- June 4, 2012
Public transport plays a central role in local economies, but tight budgets and hefty pension obligations are pressuring transit systems, just as the economic recession and sluggish recovery have depressed the state sales-tax receipts that fund many transit systems around the country.

The 9 billion-person question: What kind of cities will we build?
Grist- June 5, 2012
“We now see, in the Anthropocene, that even the wilderness is a product of human forces and is very much shaped by human ideas,” Christensen says. “The city is also full of nature.” These insights will be crucial as Earth’s population continues to grow to the 9 billion people we expect in 40 to 50 years, and as we continue to cluster in urban areas. In this brave new world, the frontiers will be urban ones, where humanity and nature mix and interact.

An Ohio River City Comes Back to Its Shoreline
New York Times- June 5, 2012
The shoreline of this Ohio River city, which in the 19th century hummed with 30 steamboat visits a day but faded in the 20th as pollution and industrial disinvestment pushed people and businesses inland, is emerging again as a hub of civic and economic vitality.

AARP wants more public transit funding
Legislative Gazette- June 4, 2012
By 2030, some 26 million baby boomer households expect to sell their homes and retire, according to a recent Bipartisan Policy Center report. Meanwhile, the numbers of Americans in their late 20s and early 30s angling to buy homes has slipped significantly over the last decade and even more so in the wake of the housing bust.

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Smart growth news- June 5, 2012

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Give the people what they want: A walkable city
WBEZ (IL) – June 4, 2012
Christopher Leinberger, author of the new report, is a firm believer that the field of urbanism lacks the quantifiable, underlying principles that other sciences have. With his study of metropolitan Washington, DC, he hoped to find a way to prove that an important change was taking place in neighborhoods that city dwellers “basically threw away” twenty years ago. When they abandoned those neighborhoods, Leinberger said, boomers move to the outer suburbs, but now they want that walkable lifestyle back, and what’s important is that they’re willing to pay for it.

Transit Ridership Surges, Despite Fare Increases and Service Cuts
Governing – June 4, 2012
“Buses typically cover a larger space than trains, geographically,” said David Goldberg, a spokesman for advoacy group Transportation for America. “They do the heavy lifting. That’s why buses are getting a larger share of this increased ridership.”

FRA Chief: America Is Driving Less and Congress Needs to Catch Up
Streetsblog DC – June 4, 2012
Speaking to reporters earlier today, Federal Railroad Administration chief Joe Szabo said that people are driving less and using transit more — and that those changes are permanent. “America’s travel habits are undergoing rapid change,” he said. It’s a fact, he said (“not opinion — statistically proven”), calling on Congress to show that it understands these changes by moving in a new direction.

DOT official: Obama support of high-speed rail ‘remains as strong as ever’
The Hill – June 4, 2012
Federal Railroad Administration chief Joseph Szabo said Monday that President Obama is unwavering in his support for high-speed rail projects.

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Smart growth news- June 4, 2012

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Use of public transit is soaring in 2012
USA Today- June 3, 2012
Use of public transit is soaring. Transit agencies had record or near-record ridership in the first three months of the year, thanks to high gas prices, a mild winter and, in one city, the Super Bowl.

Hubway bike-sharing program is on a roll
Boston.com, via The Boston Globe- June 3, 2012
If you’ve been seeing a lot of sturdy silver bikes rolling past lately, you’re not imagining it. The Hubway bicycle-sharing system in Boston had its busiest day yet last Sunday, recording 2,531 station-to-station trips. On Tuesday, it eclipsed the 250,000 mark for total rides.

Stay or go? Some towns are eyeing retreat from sea
The Associated Press- June 3, 2012
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Years of ferocious storms have threatened to gnaw away the western tip of a popular beachfront park two hours drive north of Los Angeles. Instead of building a 500-foot-long wooden defense next to the pier to tame the tide, the latest thinking is to flee.

Construction-Jobs Loss Reignites Debate on Highway Bill
Businessweek- June 2, 2012
The loss of 28,000 construction jobs in May, the sector’s worst drop in two years, reignited a debate in Congress about stalled legislation to extend federal highway construction and transportation programs set to expire June 30.

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Smart growth news- June 1, 2012

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Higher value going urban
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s City Walkabout blog (PA) – May 31, 2012
Smart Growth America comes in here: “Considering the economic benefits of walkable places, the report authors emphasize the importance of integrating walkability into all strategic growth plans. The Cardin-Cochran Amendment of the Senate’s transportation bill is one measure that would allow localities to do this. It is unknown whether House leaders support the amendment, which would boost local control of bike and pedestrian funding.”

House to Vote on Recommending a 31 Percent Cut in Transportation Funding
Transportation Issues Daily – May 31, 2012
The House is scheduled to vote today or Friday on a provision that would instruct its transportation bill negotiators to insist on reducing funding by nearly 31 percent. It will impact negotiations regardless of the outcome.

State transportation officials press for action in highway bill talks
The Hill – May 31, 2012
“Thousands of jobs will be lost unless the House and Senate can put politics aside and move forward on a highway and transit bill,” Horsley said in a statement. “Without this bill America’s surface transportation programs will shut down July 1, and it’s virtually certain that next year drastic cutbacks will need to be made because of a revenue shortfall in the Highway Trust Fund.”

Several curbside bus companies shut down by federal authorities
Washington Post- May 31, 2012
Some of those sleek, modern curbside buses that pass through Washington en route to other East Coast cities may be operated by sleepy, untrained drivers and running on bad tires and worn-out brakes, federal officials said Thursday as they ordered more than 30 of the vehicles off the road.

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Smart growth news- May 31, 2012

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Fate of Bike-Ped Compromise Still Unknown as House Reconvenes
Streetsblog DC – May 30, 2012
The Senate has left town for their traditional late-May nine-day weekend, while the House has just returned from their own week off. Amid these comings and goings, work continues on the transportation bill, which has been concealed inside the conference committee’s secret underground lair since the beginning of May.

‘The Great Inversion’: Cities are the new suburbs, suburbs the new cities
Grist- May 30, 2012
For nearly 20 years, Alan Ehrenhalt served as the executive editor of Governing magazine, examining and writing about a variety of local and state-level trends and policies. In his new book, The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City, Ehrenhalt outlines at length what he dubs “a major change in American urban life” over the last decade: namely, that “living patterns are rearranging all throughout a metropolitan area,” something he calls a “demographic inversion.”

Bringing the Urban to the Suburbs
GlobeSt.com – May 30, 2012
Donald Monti, president and CEO of Renaissance Downtowns, probably put it best during the Alternative Investment Summit’s “The Next Wave of Urban Investment in Suburbia” on Wednesday afternoon in Midtown: future suburban development should be defined as “urban nodes in suburbia.”

MD eyes growth pollution “offsets”
Baltimore Sun’s Baltimore Green blog (MD) – May 30, 2012
Maryland officials are drawing up plans to require potentially costly water pollution “offsets” for new development to help clean up the Chesapeake Bay.

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Smart growth news- May 30, 2012

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Study says Americans prefer walkable neighborhoods
NPR’s Marketplace – May 29, 2012
New research from the Brookings Institution says Americans will pay up to $1,500 more in rent every month to live in a “walkable” neighborhood — say, a place near their dry cleaners or grocery store or favorite restaurant. Christopher Leinberger of the Brookings Institution was one of the lead researchers on the study and he spoke with us about the new urbanized suburb and the rise in singles home buyers.

Home prices rise in most major US cities for first time since last August
The Washington Post/Associated Press- May 29, 2012
WASHINGTON — Home prices rose in March from February in most major U.S. cities for the first time in seven months. The increase is the latest evidence of a slow recovery taking shape in the housing market.

Building Bridges Out of Plastic
Audubon Magazine- May 25, 2012
Once destined to live eternally in landfills and landscapes, plastics are now getting second—and third and fourth—lives as recycled products that range from clothing to furniture. One of the newest reincarnations of discarded bottles and Tupperware: bridges. These plastic passageways are so strong they can support the weight of trucks, trains, and even tanks.

Making Rural Transit Work
DC Streetsblog- May 25, 2012
Transit in rural areas is tricky. Folks need to go farther, the passengers are more dispersed, and there’s less money to go around.

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Smart growth news- May 29, 2012

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Now Coveted: A Walkable, Convenient Place
New York Times – May 25, 2012
Until the 1990s, exclusive suburban homes that were accessible only by car cost more, per square foot, than other kinds of American housing. Now, however, these suburbs have become overbuilt, and housing values have fallen. Today, the most valuable real estate lies in walkable urban locations. Many of these now pricey places were slums just 30 years ago.

Gridlock, on roads and in highway bill talks, marks Memorial Day weekend
The Hill – May 28, 2012
“We have a huge infrastructure crisis that’s going to be on a lot of people’s minds this weekend and all they see is that Congress can’t do anything about it,” said Parris Glendening, president of the Smart Growth America Leadership Institute and a former governor of Maryland.

It’s costly, but Los Angeles is getting its rail mojo back
The Sacramento Bee (CA)- May 27, 2012
LOS ANGELES – It took more than a half-century, but this megalopolis that long ago turned its back on cheap street trolleys like the Red Car in favor of car-choked concrete superhighways is finally getting its rail mojo back.

Why America’s Love Affair with Cars Is No Accident
Scientific American- May 24, 2012
Drivers may feel spooked by seeing the first self-driving cars appear in coming years. But the new era could prove far less disruptive and bloody than the automobile’s 20th-century battle to push pedestrians off U.S. streets.

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Smart growth news- May 25, 2012

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EPA Announces $69.3 Million to Clean Up Contaminated Sites and Revitalize Communities
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Press Release – May 24, 2012
Today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $69.3 million in grants for new investments to provide communities with funding necessary to clean and redevelop contaminated properties, boost local economies and create jobs while protecting public health.

Young People Chasing The Urban Lifestyle Are Settling In Smaller Cities
Business Insider- May 24, 2012
Just yesterday we reported that the next trend in urbanization will revolve around small cities. It looks like millennials agree.

Infographic: The United Bike Lanes of America
GOOD – May 24, 2012
Within urban areas, more people are traveling to work or running errands on two wheels thanks to safer and more well-designed bike routes. Whether people are using them for work, exercise, vacation, or just a leisurely Sunday afternoon backcountry ride, bike lanes are thriving as thoroughfares in our bike nation.

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Smart growth news- May 24, 2012

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Progress on highway bill but Keystone unresolved: senator
Reuters- May 23, 2012
Lawmakers on a U.S. Senate-House committee are making progress on finalizing a transportation spending bill, Senator Barbara Boxer said on Wednesday, although a provision that would fast-track the Keystone XL crude pipeline is still unresolved.

Millennials Want to Be Home Owners, Too
Daily Real Estate News- May 21, 2012
The conventional wisdom today around the millennial generation, often defined as having been born between 1980 and 2000, seems to be that they aren’t as interested in owning a home as previous generations. Recent stories in the media go so far as to claim that the dynamic, diverse people in this group prefer the flexibility of renting to the stable, long-term arrangement provided by home ownership.

George Lucas, Facebook, and the Crisis of NIMBYism
Slate- May 23, 2012
Dumb rules prevent Silicon Valley from building the houses and offices we need to power American innovation.

Massachusetts opens a network of hiking and biking trails to the public
Examiner- May 23, 2012
Massachusetts residents will soon be able to get their outdoor exercise along a new 40-mile stretch of historic land. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) announced that it will make a network of trails spread over a century-old system of aqueducts accessible to hikers and bikers and anyone else interested in taking a walk in the woods.

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