Governing Magazine: Stretching Limited State Budgets With The Innovative DOT

Here’s what Governing magazine has to say about “The Innovative DOT: A Handbook of Policy and Practice,” released today by Smart Growth America and the Smart State Transportation Initiative:

A group of state Department of Transportation directors has teamed up with the smart growth movement to release a new best-practices report that offers recommendations and case studies on how to stretch limited transportation dollars.

The partnership might seem to be something of an unusual relationship. Historically, the smart growth movement has made close inroads with city transportation planners and the transit community, who line up closely with the movement’s goals of encouraging transit-oriented development, finding alternatives to driving and designing walkable communities while combating sprawl.

State departments of transportation, meanwhile, spend the bulk of their time on highways.

But Smart Growth America CEO Geoff Anderson says his organization’s mission is broader than just encouraging transit and is more about moving people most efficiently. At a time when state transportation departments are strapped for cash, that’s a message that could resonate. The report’s goal is to highlight ways that transportation departments can get the most bang for their buck, and it highlights innovative techniques across the country.

“If you start to put them all together, it’s a pretty interesting package of stuff that includes smarter, cheaper ways to get at the same, better outcomes,” says Anderson.

The Innovative DOT includes 31 recommendations transportation officials can use as they position their agencies for success in the new economy. The handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied.

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Report: Real estate markets favor smart growth locations

A forthcoming report from LOCUS President and real estate professor Chris Leinberger offers evidence for what many have known intuitively for the past several years: Smart growth areas in more walkable, transit-oriented neighborhoods are the main drivers of real estate market growth right now. Specifically in the Washington D.C. area — which is at the … Continued

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Chamber Executive Magazine Touts Smart Growth

The quality of life and business growth in downtown Charlottesville, VA, can be attributed to historic and current investments in walkable neighborhoods near jobs, shops and schools.

The Summer 2012 issue of Chamber Executive Magazine features an article outlining the business benefits of smart growth from Parris Glendening, president of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute.

The former governor of Maryland, Glendening spoke at the American Chamber of Commerce Executive’s annual convention last year in Los Angeles, where his ideas about the impact of future gas prices, real estate values and demographic changes were met with interest and enthusiasm.

In Lodi, Calif., a town of 60,000, a $4.5 million project to make its sidewalks and streets more walkable attracted 60 new businesses, reduced storefront vacancies by 12 percent and increased downtown sales tax revenue 30 percent.

Silver Spring, Md., revitalized its central business district over a five year period. A $360 million public-private investment in a mixed-use town center served as the initial catalyst. Annual property tax revenue eventually increased by 30 percent, nearly $1 million greater than pre-project levels.
Were those outcomes coincidental? Hardly.

During my eight years as Governor of Maryland, we focused extensively on the issues of managing sprawl, adding transit-oriented development and increasing sustainability. Collectively, these focus areas formed a basis for the nation’s first modern “smart growth” policies.

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Smart Growth Stories: A Tale of Three Cities

What kinds of investments allow cities to rebound and jumpstart local economic growth?

Bombed out.

If you were feeling cynical, that’s how you might describe the current state of downtown Reno, Nevada. Take a walk down Virginia Avenue and see what I mean. Go past the forlorn casinos, the shuttered liquor store, and the homeless loitering near the 4th Street bus station. Search in vain for a downtown restaurant or bar that is not attached to a gambling institution. And then, when it is dark, walk in the shadow of the National Bowling Stadium, a building designed for a sport whose own history unfortunately mirrors that of the town in which it stands.

Bombed out.

A few years ago, that’s how you might have described Woodward Avenue in Detroit. People were fleeing the city then, a trend that had continued since the Motor City’s initial decline in the ‘70s and ‘80s. Great old buildings, monuments to a forgotten past, may well have outnumbered the residents and businesses for which they were fashioned. It was the scariest of places – the loneliest of places.

Bombed out.

Almost two decades ago, that’s how you could have literally described part of Oklahoma City. Or as current Mayor Mick Cornett told it at a conference earlier this year, “That’s all people knew about us.”

Each of these places has struggled with decline. But where there is barrenness, there is always a chance at renewal. All across the country, towns are looking to make a comeback. In my role at Smart Growth America, I talk with community leaders and representatives almost every day who ask the same questions. How do we create jobs? How do we attract new residents and new businesses? How do we change our reputation for the better? And then how do we avoid falling down after we’ve gotten back on our feet?

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InfrastructureUSA interviews Geoffrey Anderson on smart growth

Smart Growth America President and CEO Geoffrey Anderson took to the Internet airwaves yesterday on InfrastructureUSA’s blog, emphasizing the need for state, local and federal policies to take into account the interrelatedness of economic, transportation, housing, social and environmental issues. “Obviously weʼve had a transportation program at the federal level for 50 years, putting in … Continued

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Will state transportation agencies stick to their plans and fund top priority projects?

A new report from the Tri-State Transportation Campaign examines proposed state-level transportation spending in each of the 50 states, breaking down expenditures into four main categories – road and bridge maintenance, bike and pedestrian projects, public transit and new bridge and road capacity. Its findings suggest a serious change in direction from past practices. “It’s … Continued

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Smart Growth News – July 12, 2012

National News:

Local Codes and Planning Can Save Lives

New York Times – July 11, 2012
Local government policies and planning are essential to avoid putting lives and property in unnecessary danger from wildfires.

Cities Expect Bicycle Boom

Forbes – July 13, 2012
A 19th Century technology—the bicycle—will sweep American cities thanks in part to 21st Century applications that enable bicycle sharing, transportation officials from two American cities said in Chicago Friday.

D.C.’s Bikeshare Program a Boon to Local Stores

Planetizen – July 12, 2012
Martin Di Caro reports on the enthusiastic response that the bike rental program Capital Bikeshare has produced in D.C., and the significant changes it’s sparked in the local culture and economy.

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Smart Growth News – July 11, 2012

National News:

Don’t Kill the Office of Smart Growth
Next American City – July 9, 2012

“EPA smart growth funding goes to a wide variety of grant funding and technical assistance programs,” says Tom Madrecki, a spokesperson for Smart Growth America. “The grants enable communities to initiate projects that wind up saving taxpayer money and preserving natural resources/the environment, and have been shown to play a role in developing the kind of great smart growth neighborhoods that a boon to local economies and health. The technical assistance programs help with implementation, project development, on-the-ground training.”

A Clean New Life for Grimy Gas Stations
New York Times – July 10, 2012

Petroleum brownfields — ground contaminated or thought to be contaminated by fuel — make up half of the 450,000 brownfields in the country, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. As gas stations close, towns must grapple with what to do with this land. If fuel has migrated into groundwater or a neighboring lot, costs can balloon.

Unemployment Problem Includes Public Transportation That Separates Poor From Jobs
Huffington Post – July 11, 2012

In the two months since he lost his job driving a delivery truck for a door company, Lebron Stinson has absorbed a bitter geography lesson about this riverfront city: The jobs are in one place, he is in another, and the bus does not bridge the divide.

Race, Class, and the Stigma of Riding the Bus in America
The Atlantic Cities – July 10, 2012

In 2009, Jacqueline Carr’s public transit experience was limited to bus lines of the “party” variety. Then, Carr lost her talent agency gig, sold her Jetta, and charted out a route to her new job—and yoga class—on the Los Angeles city bus system.

Builder Tells Gen Y: Don’t Rent, Buy
Wall Street Journal – July 3, 2012

One home builder is wooing Generation Y renters with a new line of homes featuring modest prices and open layouts.

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