SGA News Clips, 4/1/11

Texas road to the future is looking bumpy, Panel predicts $170 billion shortfall by 2030
Houston Chronicle, 3/31/11
AUSTIN — Transportation funding in Texas is “unacceptable” and will increase traffic congestion and highway maintenance costs if not corrected, according to an updated report commissioned to investigate the long-term transportation infrastructure needs of the state.
The report released Thursday by the 2030 Committee projects a $170 billion gap between the amount of money that needs to be invested in transportation to keep commutes from getting worse and the amount of money the state expects to bring in from federal freeway funds, the gasoline tax and vehicle registration fees between 2011 and 2035.
“I grew up in Texas, and we always knew that we had an interstate that was beautiful and free,” said David Marcus, vice chairman of the Texas Transportation Commission-created committee. “Now we’ve got a different world. Texas can’t pay for this anymore.”

Urban centers draw more young, educated adults
USA Today, 4/1/11
In more than two-thirds of the nation’s 51 largest cities, the young, college-educated population in the past decade grew twice as fast within 3 miles of the urban center as in the rest of the metropolitan area — up an average 26% compared with 13% in other parts.
“This is a real glimmer of hope,” says Carol Coletta, head of CEOs for Cities, a non-profit consortium of city leaders that commissioned the research. “Clearly, the next generation of Americans is looking for different kinds of lifestyles — walkable, art, culture, entertainment.”

New transportation bill has public-private option
The Columbus Dispatch, 3/31/11
The state can use private dollars to help pay for public road and other infrastructure projects, thanks to the $6.8 billion transportation bill that Gov. John Kasich signed into law during a public ceremony yesterday.
In turn, private groups that partner with the Department of Transportation on projects can reap profits through interest payments from the state, toll collections or other user fees.

The New American Ghost Towns
The Atlantic, 3/31/11
Data from states and large metropolitan areas do not tell the story of how much the real estate disaster has turned certain areas in the country into ghost towns. Some of the affected regions are tourist destinations, but much of that traffic has disappeared as the recession has caused people to sell or desert vacation homes and delay trips for leisure. This makes these areas particularly desolate when tourists are not around.

Soglin, Cieslewicz offer different priorities to deal promote economic development (Madison, Wisconsin) 3/31/11
Former Mayor Paul Soglin and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz are offering different priorities to promote economic development and preserve the city’s quality of life.
“The biggest challenge is jobs; jobs for everybody” from high school graduates to Ph.D.s Soglin said.
Cieslewicz is pushing for a “modern economy” that combines technology, education and research with a place companies want to be. The latter comes through good basic services, sound infrastructure and a sensible approach to approving developments, he said.
Soon, the city will have a new zoning code and an improved process for reviewing developments, he said, as well as a study for a new Monona Terrace hotel, Government East parking garage, public market and high-speed rail station southeast of Capitol Square. Soglin said the new zoning code puts too many restrictions on building height.

France’s new measure of well-being: Boredom
Marketplace, 4/1/11
Emilie Zola is leading the project for the government statistics office. Emilie Zola: Ennui correlates with a lack of social engagement; a bored worker is not a productive worker. That said, ennui can drive the creative process and, therefore, drive innovation.