SGA news clips, April 13, 2011

High-speed rail makes quick exit in budget deal; TIGER and sustainable communities survive
New Urban Network, 4/12/11
James Corless, director of Transportation for America, issued the following statement:

“The decision to halt progress on modernizing our world-lagging rail network is emblematic of an overall failure of congressional leadership and vision. Once again, Congress finds itself lurching from appropriations bill to appropriations bill, creating and killing programs and keeping outdated programs on life support, while China and Europe surge forward. The resulting chaos is undermining our ability even to repair and maintain our existing infrastructure, much less build a a 21st century transportation system that will allow us to compete in an increasingly global economy.”

U.S. Federal Budget Cuts to Hit Cash-Strapped City Funds
BusinessWeek, 4/12/11
U.S. cities and local governments will lose at least $3 billion in funds for housing, community redevelopment projects, public transportation and police and fire departments as part of the budget agreement that averted a federal government shutdown.

The Rural Bridge Deficit
The Daily Yonder, 4/11/11
Federal inspections have found that just over 11% of the nation’s highway bridges are “structurally deficit,” according to Transportation for America, a group promoting transportation projects. That percentage is about the same in rural, urban and exurban counties.

Six Bridges In Township ‘Structurally Deficient’
South Whitehall, PA Patch, 4/12/11
A recently released report by Transportation for America identified Pennsylvania as having the largest number of deficient bridges of any state in the country. More than 25 percent of the bridges in Pennsylvania need significant maintenance, repair or replacement, according to the report.

How to Create a Culture of Public Transit: The ‘Marci Option’
The Atlantic, 4/12/11
Despite the fact that Bishop Ranch is 37 miles from San Francisco, a dozen miles from the nearest BART rail station, and home to Chevron’s corporate offices, its parking lots are surprisingly empty, and it has won many awards for transit. Marci McGuire, the program manager for the Ranch’s Transportation center, describes the attitude at the park as “a culture” where it’s cool to have a bus pass.

City mayor speaks to students about smart growth
Diamondback Online (University of Maryland), 4/13/11
Yesterday, Mayor Andy Fellows spoke to a couple dozen students about the city’s efforts to make College Park a more desirable place to live in a discussion facilitated by Ralph Bennett, the instructor of ARCH289i: Smart Growth Goes to School. Fellows touched on “smart growth initiatives” playing out in the city that aim to create a centralized urban center that would encourage business and foster the city’s prosperity.

Pioneer Editorial: Project will require a commitment
Bemidji Pioneer (Minn.), 4/13/11
Bemidji has been chosen one of 32 communities – out of 354 that applied – for the Environmental Protection Agency Sustainable Building Blocks program. Bemidji’s involvement in the EPA initiative will focus on “smart growth to produce fiscal and economic health.” The EPA consulted with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation in developing the Sustainable Communities project. City Manager John Chattin applied for the program at the suggestion of Councilor Rita Albrecht.

Two Important Transit Bills Moving in Sacramento
Streetblog LA, 4/12/11
Earlier this year, the State of California reenacted the state fuel tax which is viewed by T4A partners as a positive development. This maintains transit funds at $330 million – meaning that there have been no more cuts proposed this year; however, if the state budget process fails i.e. the revenue mechanisms/taxes proposed by Governor Brown are not enacted then cuts to state transit funds could once again be on the table.

Kehoe’s ‘transit-first’ bill clears first Senate hurdle
San Diego Union Tribune, 4/12/11
A bill that would require public transit projects and local road improvements be made before large highway projects go forward — like the Interstate 5 expansion — passed its first legislative committee Tuesday.

Connecticut senators announce $1 million for West Haven
Norwalk Plus (Conn.), 4/12/11
“The mending of the West River bulkhead is critical to spurring economic growth and is exactly what our federal resources should support,” said Blumenthal. “I will continue to advocate for smart investments in our infrastructure that are key to creating job growth across Connecticut.”

In California, Strategy as Tough as Traffic
New York Times, 4/12/11
Certainly, anyone who spends time shuttling around Southern California’s inland suburbs, where the round-trip commute to Los Angeles can be 100 miles a day, knows that buying gas from a station off any freeway is an express lane to pauperdom.