Completing Our Streets: Who gets priority?

Health Line
Cleveland, OH’s HealthLine is a bus rapid transit (BRT) system that offers rail-like convenience with the flexibility of a bus. It connects Public Square to the Louis Stokes Station at Windermere in East Cleveland. Photo by EMBARQ Brasil via Flickr.

This post is the fifth in a twice-monthly series of excerpts from Completing Our Streets: The Transition to Safe and Inclusive Transportation Networks, the new book from Island Press by Barbara McCann, founder of the National Complete Streets Coalition. The book discusses the keys to the movement’s success, and how places and practitioners in the United States are tackling the challenges of putting a new transportation paradigm into daily practice.

All National Complete Streets Coalition Platinum Partners and those who upgrade to the next Partnership level will receive a signed copy of Completing Our Streets. Become a Coalition Partner today!

From Chapter 8: The Balancing Act: Setting Priorities for Different Users

Making a commitment to Complete Streets breaks open a tidy linear system that has traditionally delivered roads designed only to speed motor vehicles to their destinations. The transportation project pipeline was good at taking in a narrow set of inputs at one end and pouring out a finished road at the other. Agencies must now bring many more modes, voices, and considerations into the process all along the way. What was a pipeline can become something of a swamp; everyone involved may end up feeling caught in a morass of competing claims for limited roadway space and limited funding. Rather than simply delivering a project, transportation professionals must navigate their way toward a solution that may not quite satisfy anyone.

Complete Streets

Smart growth news – September 22

Select Cities See Brain Gain
Wall Street Journal, September 22, 2011
Despite a decade of technological advances that make it possible to work almost anywhere, many of the nation’s most educated people continue to cluster in a handful of dominant metropolitan areas such as Boston, New York and California’s Silicon Valley, according to census data released Thursday.

Which Is America’s Best City?
Business Week, September 20
Ask most people which city they would most want to live in and usually their answers would be shaped by such realities as proximity to their jobs and what they can afford. But suppose you could choose to live anywhere you wanted regardless of cost? What if you could live in a city that offered a wealth of culture, entertainment, good schools, low crime, and plenty of green space? Many people might opt for obvious choices such as New York or San Francisco, but great as they are, data reveal other cities are even better.

Cleveland and Cincinnati among poorest big cities
Houston Chronicle, September 22, 2011
A new census report shows two out of the 10 poorest big cities in the U.S. are in Ohio. The American Community Survey released Thursday shows Cleveland has a 34 percent poverty rate. That makes it the No. 3 poorest city with a population of 200,000 or more, behind Detroit and San Bernardino, Calif.

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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 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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Ohio cities subsidize sprawl through business relocation incentives: study

Lucrative property tax breaks to relocate businesses have helped fuel suburban sprawl in Cleveland and Cincinnati, according to a new report from Good Jobs First. The subsidized relocation has pushed jobs out of the urban core and has affected an estimated 14,500 workers, while contributing to widening gaps in wealth and opportunity in the cities.

These findings are outlined in the new study, “Paid to Sprawl: Subsidized Job Flight from Cleveland and Cincinnati.” Funded by the Ford Foundation, it’s the largest study of subsidized relocation ever conduction in the United States.

The examined tax incentives and business relocations in the Cleveland and Cincinnati metro areas – and the findings are striking. In Cleveland, four-fifths of the business relocations were outbound and moved jobs an average of five miles outside the city center. Pushing jobs further from the city center makes them less accessible or inaccessible by transit, thereby decreasing job opportunities for workers who rely on public transportation to get to work.

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Five Cities Argue the Economic Case to Tear Down a Highway

Commuters sitting in gridlock may find it hard to believe, but many smaller and mid-size cities in America have under-used highways. In some of these cities, highways that were built decades ago are now impeding potentially valuable real estate development. And as many highways from the middle of the last century deteriorate past the point of minor repairs to needing to be entirely rebuilt, leaders in these cities are starting to question the cost and efficiency of maintaining certain pieces of their highway systems.

In Seattle, Cleveland, Syracuse and a number of other cities across the country, leaders are debating the merits of removing portions of their underused, crumbling highway systems to allow for economic development instead. As older highway segments meet the end of their useful life, civic leaders are presented with a rare opportunity to reduce expenses on underused infrastructure and create new opportunity for development at the same time. (editors note: according to transportation engineers, a road or bridge’s “useful life” is determined to be over when repairs are so expensive and the conditions are so bad that it would cost several times more to rebuild the road or bridge than to tear it down and build something different.)

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Reclaiming Vacant Properties Conference Champions Economic and Environmental Revitalization

Vacant Properties Conference 2010

Investing in and reusing vacant properties can catalyze long-term, sustainable revitalization in a community. Focusing on the multiple benefits these projects bring to neighborhoods and local economies, the Center for Community Progress’ Reclaiming Vacant Properties conference kicked off this week in Cleveland, Ohio. The annual conference brings together a diversity of leaders working on community development issues to make our neighborhoods stronger and healthier.

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