Smart Growth News – September 21, 2012

Top stories:

High-speed rail on federal fast track
San Francisco Chronicle – September 20, 2012
Following closely after Wednesday’s federal permission to start building the nation’s first stretch of high-speed rail near Fresno, the White House will announce Friday morning plans to expedite permits for the rest of the route through the Central Valley.

Fewer Americans commuting solo
USA Today – September 20, 2012
The share of workers driving to work alone dropped slightly from 2010 to 2011 while commutes on public transportation rose nationally and in some of the largest metropolitan areas, according to Census data out today Thursday.

Liberate Yourself From Costly Highway Expansion, State DOT! Here’s How.
Streetsblog – September 20, 2012
The 200 pages that follow lay out a vast array of tools — all tried and tested — for states to experiment with, as well as case studies. If states pay attention, this guide could become a bible for DOTs looking to make the most of increasingly scarce transportation dollars while providing 21st century mobility options.

Don’t Forget the Zoning
The Transport Politic – September 18, 2012
Streetcar projects promise new development along their rights-of-way. But cities must allow new transit-oriented buildings to be built nearby. A look at St. Louis and Portland.

Local news:

Fayetteville Council wants to bring back living above retail stores
The Fayetteville Citizen (GA) – September 20, 2012
Living upstairs above the store — a mainstay of early 20th century America — is coming back to Fayetteville. The proposed amendment to allow mixed use development downtown is in keeping with the city’s comprehensive plan, Brian Wismer, Director of Community Planning said, noting that one of the Quality Community Objectives in the plan references such use in the Main Street District being critical to downtown revitalization.

Community forum favors increased public transportation, non-motorized options
The Voice (MI) – September 21, 2012
Participants wanted to see 45.5 percent of the state’s transportation budget spent on bike paths, bike lanes, sidewalks, local bus operations and investments, intercity train and bus operations, bus rapid transit and light rail. The Michigan Department of Transportation in fact spends about 8 percent of its budget on those items. Participants wanted to see 54.5 percent spent on road and bridge operations, road and bridge maintenance, major road and bridge rebuilding and new road construction. MDOT spends about 92 percent of its budget on those items.

Troubling Trends Continue in NJDOT’s Final 2013 Capital Program
Tri State Transportation Campaign – September 20, 2012
According to a Tri-State analysis of NJDOT’s $3.2 billion Transportation Capital Program for FY2013, which lays out much of the state’s transportation spending for the coming year, the agency will continue a trend towards building new roads while lessening investment in bicycle and pedestrian programs.

Bristol, Tenn., leaders getting feedback on land use from residents
Bristol Herald Courier – September 21, 2012
“It’s been a great way for us to have a dialogue with our community and get their insights and thoughts,” Shari Brown, Bristol’s community development director, said regarding the meetings. “We’ve received so much valuable feedback from residents. It will definitely play a role in the final plan that we produce.”

Opinion and editorial:

10 Ways to Improve Your City through Public Space
Urban Times – September 20, 2012
The Project for Public Spaces (PPS) released earlier this month a draft of their handbook Placemaking and the Future of Cities. It’s intended to serve as a best practices guide for those wishing to improve the economic, environmental and social health of their communities through the power of successful public space.

What Exactly Is A Smart City?
Fast CoExist – September 19, 2012
Having worked in the smart cities space for several years now, I am encouraged by the growth of the sector and the pace of technological advancements being developed for urban environments. However, I believe that the smart-cities movement is being held back by a lack of clarity and consensus around what a smart city is and what the components of a smart city actually are.