Smart growth news – June 9, 2011

Report: Deferred road repair poses financial liability
American City and County, June 6, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense. The report, “Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads,” examines road conditions and spending priorities nationwide and recommends changes at both the state and federal levels that the organization says can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

U.S. Road Expansion Costing Taxpayers
The City Fix blog, June 8, 2011
A smaller initial investment in renewed priorities of road maintenance actively reduces the scale of future costs, found a new report by Smart Growth America. “Rehabilitating a road that has deteriorated is substantially more expensive than keeping that road in good condition,” the report says.

Scrimping on highway repairs leaves states in a bind
GovPro.com, June 8, 2011
Some states’ habit of spending on new road construction rather than on regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and costs to repair those roads are rising faster than states can address them, according to a new report from Washington-based Smart Growth America (SGA) and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Metro Detroit’s bus system fight may risk millions
Detroit Free Press, June 8, 2011
Metro Detroit has its most realistic chance in a generation of creating a rail and bus transit system that could transform how the region commutes and launch economic redevelopment from downtown to the suburbs. But if Detroit and tri-county leaders can’t agree on combining city and suburban bus systems — an ambition that has eluded the region for decades — they risk forfeiting millions in federal money.

Arts district helps transform community
Washington Post, June 8, 2011
It’s been 10 years since the establishment of the Gateway Arts District, which united Mount Rainier, Brentwood, North Brentwood and Hyattsville in an effort to foster an arts community that would spur economic growth. Officials from the area say the effort has borne fruit culturally and economically.

Wisconsin: Judge asked by Madison environmental group to stop state Highway 23 expansion
Sheboygan Press (Wisc.), June 7, 2011
A Madison-based environmental group has asked a federal judge to stop the long-awaited expansion of state Highway 23 from Plymouth to Fond du Lac into a four-lane divided highway. The organization, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, filed a complaint Monday in U.S. Eastern District Court in Milwaukee, alleging that the state Department of Transportation hasn’t considered cheaper options to upgrade the road, including not widening it at all.

New York: Syracuse groups seek wrecking ball for aging I-81
WRVO Syracuse, June 8, 2011
Robinson is actually not entirely correct on this point. The Viaduct could keep standing, but only with what NYSDOT’s Bill Egloff calls a lot of “duct tape and bubble gum.” But the decline of the local throughway has opened conversation about what the city should do with the Viaduct. About 700 people showed up to public hearings in May to talk about what could happen next. By planning meeting standards, that’s a lot.

Massachusetts: T cars need immediate $100m in upgrades
Boston Globe, June 9, 2011
Though all 120 Orange Line cars and one-third of the Red Line cars are well past their intended lifespan, their replacement — at a cost of $1 billion — is perhaps a decade away. And service will probably degrade even further without the interim investment, Davey said.

Illinois: New CTA leader: ‘Bleak environment’ for funding
Chicago Tribune, June 9, 2011
Reductions in transit investment coupled with “perverse economics” threaten the CTA’s ability to ever modernize its aging system and nurture ridership growth, new CTA President Forrest Claypool said Wednesday. Claypool, who has been on the job for three weeks, delivered the downbeat assessment in his first public remarks on the CTA’s financial challenges. Without mentioning any names, he criticized elected officials for abandoning transit over the years and, as a result, he said he will be forced to soon make tough decisions that won’t be popular.

Minnesota: Minneapolis streetcar study is moving slowly
Minneapolis Star Tribune, June 8, 2011
Although the federal government awarded the city a $900,000 grant for the study last December, a consultant to conduct the analysis isn’t scheduled to be picked until November or this December. The study itself isn’t expected to be finished until mid-2013, a City Council committee was told this week.

Guest Commentary: A car-free life in Denver
Denver Post, June 8, 2011
Like most American cities, Denver’s adequate but inefficient public transit system will never reach its full potential without more citizens who use it. Denver could lead the country in greener, community-oriented practices that encourage lifestyles where we walk, ride and bus more often…Denver needs improvements: safer bike routes, more comprehensive light rail, more bus users so routes run more frequently and at a lower cost. The city needs more neighborhoods like Uptown, whose conception begins with, “How can we make this neighborhood as self-sustained as possible?”

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