Smart growth news – June 28, 2012

Cities grow more than suburbs, first time in 100 years
MSNBC – June 28, 2012
For the first time in a century, most of America’s largest cities are growing at a faster rate than their surrounding suburbs as young adults seeking a foothold in the weak job market shun home-buying and stay put in bustling urban centers.

Cities Outpace Suburbs in Growth
Wall Street Journal – June 28, 2012
Home builders are betting that there is a longer-term shift under way. Many builders that previously worked entirely on single-family homes in the suburbs have refocused to keep up with what they say is a change in demand. Three of the largest publicly traded U.S. home-building companies—Toll Brothers Inc., TOL Lennar Corp. and Hovnanian Enterprises Inc.—have in recent years built mid-rise and high-rise condominium towers in urban areas such as New York City, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia and Irvine, Calif., looking to capitalize on consumers’ rising distaste for long commute times and interest in housing that is closer to cities’ cultural and job centers.

Highway bill conference report released
The Hill – June 28, 2012
The bicameral agreement on a new surface transportation bill has been released early Thursday morning by the House Rules Committee.

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Stop the House assault on walkable neighborhoods

Safe sidewalks and bikeable streets are both key parts of creating a great, walkable neighborhood, and towns across the country have used these tools to create places people want to live and visit.

Over the past month, members of Congress have been negotiating details of the federal transportation bill. Now, members of the House of Representatives have proposed allowing states to opt out of a program that would let communities make it safer to walk to public transportation, revitalize a Main Street or create bike trails for families.

Stand up for walkable streets: click here to send a letter to your members of Congress.

The House proposal would eliminate the small amount of money going directly to metropolitan areas, and would let state-level leaders decide whether communities ever see a dime of this funding. The move is slap in the face of city councils, mayors, and county leaders from across the country on both sides of the aisle who are creating the great neighborhoods so many Americans already know and love.

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Senate transportation bill includes strong support for smart growth strategies

The Senate voted today on its version of the federal surface transportation bill, passing the measure 74-22. The two-year, $109 billion bill includes several key provisions Smart Growth America supports:

  • The bill invests in repair for aging transportation infrastructure. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials most recently gave the U.S. an embarassingly low “D” for its infrastructure. Constructed decades ago to help connect a growing economy, our infrastructure is now holding us back. Investing in repair is also a wise financial decision: as Smart Growth America’s report Repair Priorities explained, investing in road preservation and repair makes the most of existing resources and limits future liabilities.
  • The bill will help communities improve their Main Streets through funding opportunities for revitalization projects. Simple things like streetscape improvements can support local businesses and town centers across the country.
  • The bill will give communities the choice to create safe and low cost transportation options, like sidewalks and bike paths. This provision is particularly important as gas prices continue to climb.
  • The bill encourages states to develop complete streets polices, that make streets safer and more convenient for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike.
  • The bill takes critical steps toward a performance-based system that will make our transportation system more efficient and effective, and help make sure our national investments are sound.
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