Smart growth news – June 13, 2011

Fix it first
Twin Cities Daily Planet, June 9, 2011
A new report shows that our state is spending nearly half of its highway capital on expanding roads and less than the national average on keeping them in good shape. And the national average is pretty discouraging, too. According to the report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, only four states and the District of Columbia are doing enough to keep good roads good and make bad roads better. Minnesota isn’t among them. The state Department of Transportation has quibbled with some of the study’s Minnesota-specific findings, but its own projections show a near-tripling of highway miles in poor condition over the next two decades.

Repair Priorities
Hawaii Reporter, June 10, 2011
Anybody that’s owned a house knows that keeping up with the maintenance is critical. Patching a small hole in the roof now is a heck of a lot less expensive than ignoring it and having to replace the entire rotten roof down the road. Unsurprisingly, the same applies to our nation’s infrastructure, and specifically the road network that we rely on to get where we are going and move the goods to get our economy humming.

Are the Millennials Driving Downtown Corporate Relocations?
The New Republic, June 9, 2011
In spite of the U.S. Census data for the past decade showing continued job de-centralization, there is now much anecdotal evidence for the just the opposite. The Chicago Crain’s Business Journal reports that companies such as Allstate, Motorola, AT&T, GE Capital, and even Sears are re-considering their fringe suburban locations, generally in stand alone campuses, and may head back to downtown Chicago.

Virginia: Alexandria presents alternative to waterfront plan as protests continue
Washington Post, June 11, 2011
About 200 Alexandria residents marched through Old Town on Saturday and converged on City Hall to protest a $51 million plan to bring hotels and other new development to the city’s waterfront. Opponents of the proposed project, who have organized as Citizens for an Alternative Alexandria Waterfront Plan, said they want the City Council to consider designs that include more parks, a focus on arts and Alexandria’s history, and have no hotels.

Minnesota: Two St. Croix River bridge plans follow far different approaches
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 12, 2011
In an era of tight government budgets, it’s wasteful to build a bridge that doesn’t serve multiple purposes, said William Schroeer, of St. Paul, who is policy and research director for Smart Growth America, a nonprofit group that advocates sound economic development strategy. “In this era of $4- and $5-a-gallon gas, to spend money on a bridge that only cars can use — that doesn’t make sense,” he said.

Georgia: One conservative’s approach to mass transit: Control costs
Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 10, 2011
A conservative mass-transit advocate — your eyes deceive you not; such creatures exist — came to Atlanta recently to tell liberals how to sell public transportation to tea partyers. Briefly: It’s about the money. Money already was on the minds of those in William Lind’s audiences: They want transit to get a big chunk of the $8 billion that a new 1-cent sales tax could generate in 10 years. And they know that, to get any money, they’ll need a lot of conservatives to vote “yes” in a referendum next year to establish the tax in 10 metro Atlanta counties.

Pennsylvania: Regional commission asks towns to consider sustainable transportation
Pittsburgh Post Gazette, June 13, 2011
The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission added sustainability practices to its update of the region’s long-range transportation and economic development plan for the first time five years ago. Friday, at one of the many public input sessions the commission has held in recent weeks, transportation planners emphasized the need for municipalities to plan accordingly for the 2040 plan, an update of its 2035 plan.

Maryland: Getting There: Bridge, tunnel toll increases cruel but fair
Baltimore Sun, June 12, 2011
Members of the authority board have two primary obligations: to live up to those covenants and to keep the infrastructure in good repair. In order to ensure they can, the General Assembly long ago gave them independent authority to raise tolls when necessary. That keeps bond buyers happy and the state’s borrowing costs low.

Massachusetts: Good news, bad news
Boston Globe, June 12, 2011
The Boston Region Metropolitan Planning Organization has released its draft long-range transportation plan for 2016-2020, and while one popular Green Line component made it on the list, another didn’t. The Route 16 stop on the MBTA system is on track for federal funding; the Community Path extension is not.

Maine: Kennebec dredging not business-friendly
The Portland Press Herald (Me.), June 12, 2011
In a move akin to spot zoning, Gov. LePage and his new “business-friendly” DEP recently won passage of a bill in the Legislature to lower state water quality standards to allow the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge the Kennebec River this August. As it turns out, that measure is not so business-friendly.