LaHood discusses transit projects, American jobs at Railvolution

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has been busy lately advocating for American jobs through transportation investment.

Earlier this week, Secretary LaHood was in Detroit to announce $928.5 million in federal investment to help fund more than 300 public transportation projects in urban, suburban, and rural areas throughout the U.S.

“Investing in America’s transit systems, rails, roads, ports, and airports will generate tens of thousands of construction-related jobs and put more money in the pockets of working Americans,” said Secretary Ray LaHood. “But we must do more. Congress needs to pass the American Jobs Act so we can continue to invest in critically needed projects like these, to repair and rebuild our nation’s transportation system.”

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Smart growth news – October 11

Poll finds support for statewide planning in New Jersey
NJBIZ, October 11, 2011
New Jersey residents support statewide planning to guide growth and development and to protect farms and open space, according to a poll released Tuesday. … The poll was commissioned by four nonprofit organizations: New Jersey Future, the Pinelands Preservation Alliance, the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and Smart Growth America.

Obama’s infrastructure bank proposal faces first test in Republican-led House
The Hill, October 9, 2011
Advocates for reshaping the nation’s roads and bridges have criticized Obama for focusing his message on infrastructure. The president’s argument loses some effectiveness when it is focused on hard-to-visualize infrastructure rather than readily apparent crumbling roads and bridges, they say.

Obama jobs bill touted as a way to bolster infrastructure
Kansas City Star, October 7, 2011
A portion of President Obama’s $447 billion jobs bill could be a boon for Missouri highways, roads and bridges, state and local officials were told Friday.

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Smart growth news – October 3

Pasco official says city reaps benefits from smart growth
Tri-City Herald (Wash.), October 1, 2011
Properly managed growth can increase benefits and reduce some of the drawbacks, Pasco City Manager Gary Crutchfield told about 50 people Friday at the Columbia Basin Badger Forum at the Pasco Red Lion.

Group promotes ‘walkability’ around Kennett Square
The Daily Local News (Pa.), October 3, 2011
Activate Chester County, a local community health initiative, is planning to petition three southern Chester County municipalities to expand the area’s “walkability.”

Has the Renaissance of Downtowns Been Overhyped?
The Atlantic Cities, September 30, 2011
The relative resiliency of many downtowns in face of these problems encouraged some in the national media to announce an unprecedented shift back into central business districts following decades of the suburbanization of employment. After losing a significant share of the market to suburban office parks, could downtowns finally be hitting their stride?

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Partnership for Sustainable Communities Web Briefing materials now available

Thank you to everyone who attended SGA’s Sustainable Communities Network “Partnership for Sustainable Communities Web Briefing” earlier this week.

Smart Growth America hosted senior leadership from the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the White House Office of Public Affairs on the briefing and provided an opportunity to ask questions and receive updates on this year’s Partnership for Sustainable Communities grants, where the Partnership stands in the fiscal year 2012 budget, and upcoming announcements and opportunities. We also heard about the American Jobs Act and a joint report to Congress from DOT and HUD on barriers to coordinated transportation and housing investments.

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Smart growth news – September 15

Americans Are Driving Less. Washington Should Pay Attention.
Huffington Post, September 14, 2011
Americans are hungering for more and better transportation choices. Cities and states have proposals for new transit lines, passenger rail service, bike lanes and sidewalks that are stuck on the drawing board for lack of funds. And if the objective is job creation, there is really no contest: a recent report by Smart Growth America found that public transportation projects funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created 70 percent more jobs per dollar than highway projects funded under the law.

Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Hylton talks smart growth
WITF (Pa.), September 14, 2011
There are certain areas of the midstate that have exploded in growth over the past 20 years. Early on, suburbs grew with housing developments and shopping centers almost unchecked. Later on, many communities realized planning for the future was warranted and took “smart growth” seriously. Thomas Hylton, our guest on Thursday’s Radio Smart Talk, has been a internationally recognized advocate of smart growth for decades. In fact, Hylton won a Pulitzer Prize in 1990 for columns he wrote for the Pottstown Mercury on farmland preservation.

Politicians, activists plug Obama jobs act in Hill District
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, September 15, 2011
The growl of construction equipment and buzz of power tools heard along Dinwiddie Street and Centre Avenue could fall silent if Congress doesn’t pass President Barack Obama’s American Jobs Act, a Cabinet member said Wednesday as he toured the Hill District. Shaun Donovan, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development secretary, picked the neighborhood to showcase Project Rebuild, a $15 billion sliver of the administration’s $447 billion bid to right the economy. His immediate audience was a small group of aides, reporters and neighborhood activists, but the ultimate target was Congress.

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American Jobs Act's Project Rebuild Aims to Revitalize Vacant Homes

Originally posted on Huffington Post.

When the housing bubble popped in 2009, it left many American communities with foreclosed and vacant homes and businesses.

The American Jobs Act would help restore thousands of these abandoned properties and put construction workers back to work in the process with Project Rebuild. The $15 billion project would create thousands of jobs to tear down abandoned properties, renovate foreclosed homes and maintain abandoned properties until they can be sold once again. Intended to initially help communities with the largest number of foreclosed properties, Project Rebuild would create much-needed jobs and energize the country’s blighted communities at the same time. Key components of the project include:

  • Stabilizing communities by focusing on distressed commercial properties and redevelopment;
  • Federal funding to support for-profit development — when consistent with project aims and subject to strict oversight requirements;
  • Increased support for “land banking”;
  • Establishing property maintenance programs to create jobs and mitigate “visible scars” left by vacant/abandoned properties.
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Smart growth news – September 14

American Jobs Act’s Project Rebuild Aims to Revitalize Vacant Homes
Huffington Post, September 14, 2011
The American Jobs Act would help restore thousands of these abandoned properties and put construction workers back to work in the process with Project Rebuild. The $15 billion project would create thousands of jobs to tear down abandoned properties, renovate foreclosed homes and maintain abandoned properties until they can be sold once again.

Minnesota considers partnerships to pay for infrastructure work
Finance & Commerce (Minn.), September 14, 2011
The Washington, D.C.-based Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense estimates that Minnesota would need to spend $672 million a year for the next 20 years to deal with the backlog of “poor” roads and “maintain all state-owned roads in good condition.”

Obama Program Calls for $15B for Foreclosure Rehab
Wall Street Journal, September 12, 2011
The president’s job-creation bill actually includes some aid for housing: It would create a $15 billion fund to get construction workers to rehab vacant and foreclosed homes and businesses. Construction hiring has been weak, of course, because competition from foreclosures has held new home building at abysmally low levels.

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Smart Growth America supports American Jobs Act’s proposal to revitalize vacant properties, build better transit

Washington, DC – Smart Growth America supports President Obama’s call for federal investment strategies that will create jobs, modernize America’s transportation infrastructure and support the country’s economy as part of the American Jobs Act. In particular, Smart Growth America supports the following proposals which use smart growth strategies.

Project Rebuild ($15 billion)
Project Rebuild will connect Americans looking for work in distressed communities with the work needed to repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties.

Project Rebuild includes support for land banking, empowering public-private partnerships to speed up the redevelopment process, and a focus on redeveloping distressed commercial properties. New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo recently signed a state-wide land banking bill into law, enabling New York communities to strategically and swiftly re-purpose abandoned and vacant properties and, in time, lessening blight and bringing revitalization to many New York neighborhoods.

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American Jobs Act would revitalize vacant properties with Project Rebuild

ForeclosureSmart Growth America supports President Obama’s call for federal investments that will create jobs, modernize America’s transportation infrastructure and support the country’s economy as part of the American Jobs Act. In particular, Smart Growth America supports Project Rebuild: Putting People Back to Work Rehabilitating Homes, Businesses and Communities, which has been allocated $15 billion under the proposed bill. From the White House’s description of the program:

The bursting of the housing bubble and the Great Recession that followed has left communities across the country with large numbers of foreclosed homes and businesses, which is weighing down property values, increasing blight and crime, and standing in the way of economic recovery. In these same communities there are also large numbers of people looking for work, especially in the construction industry, where more than 1.9 million jobs have been lost since the beginning of the recession in December 2007. The President is proposing Project Rebuild to help address both of these problems by connecting Americans looking for work in distressed communities with the work needed to repair and repurpose residential and commercial properties. Building on successful models piloted through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), Project Rebuild will invest $15 billion in proven strategies that leverage private capital and expertise to rehabilitate hundreds of thousands of properties in communities across the country.

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