Boulder, CO targets carbon reduction through transportation at smart growth strategy workshop


The Boulder Civic Area is a visionary “community driven” project to rethink and evolve the downtown’s most expansive public space. Image via Bouldercolorado.gov on Flickr.

Boulder, CO officials and local residents will meet with representatives from Smart Growth America on March 4 and 5, 2013 as part of a free, grant-funded technical assistance program. The workshops aim to find innovative travel and mobility strategies that will give Boulder the tools to achieve the next level of the city’s ambitious carbon-reduction goals.

Boulder residents are invited to join the workshops first day for an open house on the city’s 2013 Transportation Master Plan Update (from 4:30 to 6 p.m.) and a presentation by Smart Growth America (from 6 to 8 p.m.). The event will be held Monday, March 4, 2013 at the Hotel Boulderado Conference Center, 2115 13th Street, Boulder, CO.

Technical assistance

Small places with big goals win national awards for smart growth achievement


Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America (left) with representatives from seven communities honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement.

On Wednesday evening in a hearing room on Capitol Hill, the winners of this year’s National Award for Smart Growth Achievement gathered to discuss how their projects are helping their communities become better places to live and work.

The awards this year went to projects that have improved streets, redeveloped historic buildings, built new homes and stores in the heart of downtown, created better transportation choices and more. And though the projects are all very different from one another, none would have been possible without community support and collaboration.

“That’s the word of the day, partnerships,” said Kenneth Chandler, former City Manager of the City of Portsmouth, VA. Portsmouth’s comprehensive overhaul of the city’s development and land use regulations won it the Programs and Policies award. Portsmouth’s new codes are already creating a more livable and pedestrian-friendly city with opportunities for economic development and reinvestment.

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The seven most innovative development projects – and policies – in the country


The BLVD in Lancaster, California is one of seven communities being honored this year by the EPA. Photo by Charlie Essers via Flickr.

What do a boulevard in California, a Denver neighborhood, new zoning ordinances in Virginia and an organic food co-op in Vermont all have in common?

They are all being honored with the 2012 National Award for Smart Growth Achievement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Office of Sustainable Communities. The seven winning communities – including four winners and three honorable mentions – were announced this morning.

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Coding for a Better Neighborhood

Successful plans for growth are informed by the vision of community members. Now, an innovative web-based effort is helping that vision go mobile.

As the people most knowledgeable about and invested in their neighborhoods, local community members are key participants in any new planning effort. Residents of a town or neighborhood often understand the area in ways planners don’t, and by getting involved in new planning efforts residents can help make sure new development plans are in line with the community’s goals.

PlaceMatters is working to make this public engagement more effective and equitable, and they’re harnessing the power of web developers and public data to make it happen. The organization will host Colorado Code for Communities this coming weekend, July 27-29, in Denver, Colorado. The event will gather web programmers to collaborate and create digital apps full of civic information. The apps are intended to address specific questions or local concerns, using state and federal data to power their information.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Denver, CO

In the areas of Denver surrounding the South Platte River, industrial buildings, coal-fired power plants, and blighted communities contrast with newer greenspace, trails, natural spaces and emerging mixed use developments. Over the past few decades, efforts at revitalization have made major progress in creating more walkable and recreational spaces, as well as cleaning up the river itself. But many of the surrounding neighborhoods and industrial areas are still disadvantaged, isolated, and underutilized. The City of Denver is now conducting a study to identify opportunities to spur economic development and revitalization in these communities.

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"Promoting Affordable and Fair Housing near Transit, Jobs, and Town Centers" webinar materials now available online

Thank you to everyone who attended Smart Growth America’s Sustainable Communities Network webinar “Promoting Affordable and Fair Housing near Transit, Jobs, and Town Centers” last week. This webinar was hosted by Smart Growth America, PolicyLink, Reconnecting America, and the National Housing Conference.

Included on this webinar are practitioners taking steps to ensure that housing for families at all income levels is available in location-efficient and opportunity-rich areas. Following an overview of tools available to create and preserve affordable homes in areas where transportation costs are likely to be low, learn how some of these tools have been implemented in Denver, Colorado as Denver expands its public transportation system. Included is a discussion of policies and legal decisions that help to ensure communities create their fair share of homes for low- and moderate-income families in New Jersey, as well as strategies to build public support for well-located affordable homes.

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The Ford Foundation hosts Just City: a forum on metropolitan opportunity

Today in New York, The Ford Foundation is holding a 75th anniversary event to explore how fairness, opportunity and equity can serve as defining features in the development of megacities and metro regions this new era of urbanization. The event includes speakers working on all kinds of issues related to cities, including mayors, transportation experts, academics, artists, business leaders, journalists, governors and federal lawmakers.

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Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads

Decades of underinvestment in regular repair have left many states’ roads in poor condition, and the cost of repairing these roads is rising faster than many states can address them. These liabilities are outlined in a new report by Smart Growth America and Taxpayers for Common Sense, released today, which examines road conditions and spending priorities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The report recommends changes at both the state and federal level that can reduce future liabilities, benefit taxpayers and create a better transportation system.

Repair Priorities: Transportation spending strategies to save taxpayer dollars and improve roads found that between 2004 and 2008 states spent 43 percent of total road construction and preservation funds on repair of existing roads, while the remaining 57 percent of funds went to new construction. That means 57 percent of these funds was spent on only 1 percent of the nation’s roads, while only 43 percent was dedicated to preserving the 99 percent of the system that already existed. As a result of these spending decisions, road conditions in many states are getting worse and costs for taxpayers are going up.

“Federal taxpayers have an enormous stake in seeing that our roads are kept in good condition,” said Erich W. Zimmermann of Taxpayers for Common Sense at a briefing earlier today. “Billions of precious tax dollars were spent to build our highway system, and neglecting repair squanders that investment. Keeping our roads in good condition reduces taxpayers’ future liabilities.”

“Spending too little on repair and allowing roads to fall apart exposes states and the federal government to huge financial liabilities,” said Roger Millar of Smart Growth America. “Our findings show that in order to bring their roads into good condition and maintain them that way, states would collectively have to spend $43 billion every year for the next 20 years – more than they currently spend on all repair, preservation and new capacity combined. As this figure illustrates, state have drifted too far from regular preservation and repair and in so doing have created a deficit that is going to take decades to reverse.”

The high cost of poor conditions
According to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials, every $1 spent to keep a road in good condition avoids $6-14 needed later to rebuild the same road once it has deteriorated significantly. Investing too little on road repair increases these future liabilities, and with every dollar spent on new construction many states add to a system they are already failing to keep in good condition.

State and federal leaders can do more to see that highway funds are spent in ways that benefits driver and taxpayers. More information about the high cost of delaying road repair, how states invest their transportation dollars and what leaders can do to address these concerns is available in the full report.

Click here to read the full report, state-specific data and view the interactive map.

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New report reveals smart transportation spending creates jobs, grows the economy

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Americans to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world” to win the future. To rebuild America, he said, we will aim to put “more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.”

A new report from Smart Growth America analyzes states’ investments in infrastructure to determine whether they made the best use of their spending based on job creation numbers. Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Funding and Job Creation evaluates how successful states have been in creating jobs with their flexible $26.6 billion of transportation funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Those results should guide governors and other leaders in revitalizing America’s transportation system, maximizing job creation from transportation dollars and rebuilding the economy.

According to data sent by the states to Congress, the states that created the most jobs were the ones that invested in public transportation projects and projects that maintained and repaired existing roads and bridges. The states that spent their funds predominantly building new roads and bridges created fewer jobs.

As Newsweek’s David A. Graham explains, investments in transportation create jobs in the short term and longer term economic prosperity too:

Injecting money into transportation projects, the thinking goes, is an especially potent jobs-creation tool because it not only puts construction workers and contractors to work quickly, it also lays the groundwork for future economic growth and development. Obama predicted the transportation money alone would put hundreds of thousands of workers on the job.

As “Recent Lessons from the Stimulus” explains, not all transportation projects reap these benefits equally:

[S]tates spent more than a third of the money on building new roads—rather than working on public transportation and fixing up existing roads and bridges. The result of the indiscriminate spending? States missed out on potentially thousands of new jobs—and bridges, roads, and overpasses around the country are still crumbling. Meanwhile, the states that did put dollars toward public transportation were richly rewarded: Each dollar used on transit was 75 percent more effective at putting people to work than a dollar used for highway work.

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New report highlights smart growth's return on investment and cost savings

A new report out today from the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) discusses the myriad economic benefits that smart growth brings to households, communities and municipal governments. The study, titled Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity shows that smart growth development strategies enhance community prosperity and generate economic benefits for local businesses, households and governments.

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