Smart Growth News – November 26, 2012

Top stories:

The Great Decline Of American Driving
Business Insider – November 22, 2012
Travel on all roads and streets changed by -1.5% (-3.6 billion vehicle miles) for September 2012 as compared with September 2011. The 12-month moving average of miles driven increased a tiny 0.27% from September a year ago. And the civilian population-adjusted data (age 16-and-over) has set a new post-financial crisis low.

Higher Gas-Tax Idea Joins Fiscal-Cliff Talks
Wall Street Journal – November 23, 2012
State highway officials and industries that stand to benefit from increased highway spending—including road builders and heavy-equipment makers—are among those pressing lawmakers to raise the 18.4-cent-a-gallon federal gasoline tax as part of an agreement.

Opponents of Atlantic Yards Are Exhausted by a Long, Losing Battle
New York Times – November 25, 2012
From its initial stirrings in 2003, the huge Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn evolved into something of a reluctant career for a panoply of passionate opponents, not all of them aligned and with uniform priorities, but who saw democracy being trampled in the interest of a developer whose methodology they found offensive. It has been a clenched battle in which eminent domain was used to gobble up homes and transform a neighborhood.

Secretary Villaraigosa?
NBC San Diego (CA) – November 24, 2012
Some things just make sense. Like Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa as U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Rumors abound about Villaraigosa stepping into that job as President Obama reshuffles his cabinet for the second term. Politico reports on the rumors, and the speculation that the current Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, may want to leave. The timing and the job seem right for Villaraigosa.

Local news:

California’s first cap-and-trade auction sells out, declared ‘a success’
San Jose Mercury News (CA) – November 20, 2012
State regulators on Monday celebrated the results of last week’s first-ever auction of California greenhouse gas emission permits, declaring the long-awaited kickoff to the nation’s first effort to put a price on carbon pollution a success.

New trail spurs interest in ex-Atlanta rail route
Associated Press via Charlotte Observer (NC) – November 24, 2012
Since a new urban trail opened last month in an old rail corridor in Atlanta, it has drawn a steady stream of joggers, dog-walkers and cyclists to take in spectacular views of the skyline and neighborhoods once seen only by train.

Merced-to-Fresno high-speed rail opponents rethink legal strategy
Fresno Bee (CA) – November 24, 2012
Stung by a judge’s ruling, opponents of California’s proposed high-speed rail route between Merced and Fresno are reassessing their legal strategy — but not their resolve.

Portland area now accounts for most of state’s economy. What happens to the rest of Maine?
Bangor Daily News (ME) – November 23, 2012
The economic shift to Maine’s south has become so pronounced during the last decade that Greater Portland now generates more than half the state’s economic output and one-third of its jobs, as the economies of other Maine cities have been relatively flat and rural regions decline.

Ed Lee takes new track on Muni management from previous mayors
San Francisco Examiner (CA) – November 25, 2012
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is taking an approach to the city’s transportation issues different from his predecessors.

Opinion and editorial:

What is the federal role?
Better! Cities & Towns – November 20, 2012
Federal transportation spending could potentially someday support a productive place, but it can’t be a proxy for one. The pendulum has swung too far for too long in one direction. It is time to start healing our cities, towns and neighborhoods.

Private passenger train would change rail debate
Tampa Tribune (FL) – November 25, 2012
Plans are rolling for Florida East Coast Industries to link Miami and Orlando with passenger rail service in just a few years. If the company succeeds, it would deliver this country’s first privately owned and operated passenger rail system in many years and change thinking on national rail policy.