New research looks at how much New Jersey could save through smarter road investments

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Earlier this year, Smart Growth America released a new model for analyzing the fiscal implications of development patterns. Since then we’ve analyzed development in Madison, WI, West Des Moines, IA, and Macon, GA.

For the latest installment, Smart Growth America teamed up with New Jersey Future to find out how much state, county and municipal governments in New Jersey could save on road maintenance bills by building in more compact ways.

The Fiscal Implications of Development Patterns: Roads in New Jersey analyzes population and employment density to understand just how much money could be saved if the distribution of New Jersey’s population and jobs could be made even incrementally more dense and compact.

Researchers at Smart Growth America and New Jersey Future took two distinct but related approaches to these questions. Smart Growth America partitioned the whole state into grid cells of equal size and then compiled data for each cell. Using U.S. Census data regarding population and employment, and the New Jersey Department of Transportation’s database of road segments, Smart Growth America’s researchers calculated the relationship between density and the road area per capita.

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Smart Growth America's coalition members gather for annual meeting

coalition-mtg_3-2014Dru Schmidt-Perkins of 1,000 Friends of Maryland (left) with Tyler Grote of Smart Growth America at last week’s meeting.

Last week, members of Smart Growth America’s non-profit coalition gathered in Washington, DC for the coalition’s annual meeting and advocacy day on Capitol Hill.

On Wednesday, coalition members and Smart Growth America staff discussed the new issues and progress made in each member’s region. Staff from Smart Growth America and Transportation for America briefed the members about progress on projects including the National Complete Streets Coalition, innovative transportation policies in Michigan and projects to improve community health in the transportation planning process.

Then member organizations presented about their achievements in the last year and discussed the challenges within each region. The Alliance to Re-Industrialize for a Sustainable Economy (ARISE) Minnesota’s Zachary Zweifler gave an insightful presentation on how they are designing projects to transform former industrial sites into mixed-use developments using non-traditional approaches. And Kaid Benfield, co-founder of Smart Growth America and the author of People Habitat: 25 Ways to Think About Greener, Healthier Cities, shared a few of the major points from his book, which discusses topics as wide-ranging as “green” housing developments that are no such thing, the tricky matter of gentrifying inner cities, why people don’t walk much anymore, and the relationship between cities and religion.

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Smart Growth America's state smart growth partners meet to discuss shared goals

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Coalition members visited Winthrop, MA, pictured above, to learn about smart growth strategies in the small coastal town. Photo via Facebook.</span

Smart Growth America works with over 50 organizations from across the country as part of our coalition of allied non-profits. Many of these organizations work exclusively on smart growth issues in their respective states, and last month these partners came together to discuss shared challenges and goals.

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Placemaking, local businesses and the 'knowledge economy' at GrowSmart Maine's annual summit

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On November 20, smart growth advocates and policymakers in Maine convened for our coalition partner GrowSmart Maine‘s annual summit. The conference drew members from across the state for an afternoon focused on the policies, trends, events, and projects that have strengthened Maine’s economy, environment and communities. 

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Video: Strong communities and strong economies have choices

Smart Growth America’s Roger Millar recently sat down with our coalition partner the Sonoran Institute for a video about choices in development. As one of several developers, architects, elected officials, realtors, conservationists, and community leaders in the video, Millar discusses why choices matter when it comes to building thriving communities in today’s economy.

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Listen to market demand, says The Economist's Ryan Avent

To create jobs, drive innovation, attract talent and keep housing costs affordable, American cities would be right to address the growing demand for smart growth development, says The Economist’s Ryan Avent in a recent interview with Silicon Valley Leadership Group CEO Carl Guardino.

“Well, my tendency as an economist, working for The Economist, my inclination is to say build with what the market will demand,” Avent says. “And so that’s why I think we have a great opportunity here, because what the market is increasingly demanding are homes that are within walking distance of job centers.”

Avent, a resident of Arlington, VA, and the author of The Gated City, emphasized that in building with market demand in mind, it’s also crucial to change common misperceptions about density. In his book, Avent uses the phrase “hogs stacked on hogs” to describe what makes people afraid of added housing units. The realities of increased density, however, are radically different and the addition of in-demand housing options contributes to robust regional economic growth.

“If you think about the sort of density that might work, if it builds around transit and a walkable environment, you don’t add a lot of the downsides that are typically associated with density, like congestion,” Avent says. “When you build in a sprawling pattern and force people into cars, that’s what actually causes congestion.”

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Smart Growth America and National Brownfields Coalition unite to revitalize blighted areas

Longstanding brownfield redevelopment advocates Smart Growth America and the National Brownfields Coalition launch a new alliance today, with the Brownfields Coalition joining Smart Growth America.

As an official coalition of Smart Growth America, the National Brownfields Coalition can now be found at smartgrowthamerica.org/brownfields/.

“The missions of Smart Growth America and the National Brownfields Coalition are intertwined,” said Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. “We both understand that brownfield redevelopment is a critical part of fiscally responsible development strategies. Together we will have that much more to offer in terms of experience, technical assistance and the joint pursuit of public policies aimed at reinvigorating neighborhoods across the country.”

As the only national organization dedicated to researching and advocating for smart growth strategies, Smart Growth America’s extensive network and expert staff will offer the National Brownfields Coalition continued support as it seeks to raise awareness about the economic benefits of transforming vacant brownfields into thriving neighborhoods. Likewise, Smart Growth America will benefit from the National Brownfields Coalition’s expertise on federal policies that promote brownfield revitalization and sustainable development.

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Welcome to the coalition: Madison Area Bus Advocates


Smart Growth America is proud to welcome Madison Area Bus Advocates to our coalition of state and national allied organizations.

Madison Area Bus Advocates works for an expanded and improved urban and regional bus system to serve more people, places, and trips throughout the greater Madison, WI area. The organization is a diverse group of bus users and friends who believe that good public transit supports the dignity and freedom of all individuals, creates an open, hospitable and welcoming community, respects the environment, opens economic opportunity to all and moves people to where they need to go. A variety of transportation options – including good bus service – needs to be available in the greater Madison area so people and businesses can choose a transportation mode that considers convenience, time, health, safety and cost. We want an expanded and improved regional transit system that includes better transit options within the city of Madison itself.

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Welcome to the coalition: Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation


Smart Growth America is proud to welcome Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation to our coalition of state and national allied organizations.

Rainbow Housing Assistance Corporation is a national non-profit organization formed to create and preserve affordable multifamily housing for low-income families throughout the United States. Rainbow renovates and rehabilitate housing that will be a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization.

Formed in 2002, Rainbow creates and preserves affordable housing for families throughout the United States. The organization renovates and rehabilitates distressed properties with the goal of being a catalyst for neighborhood revitalization. Rainbow has successfully turned around formerly distressed properties, preserving affordable housing opportunities for thousands of low-income households.

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