Partnership in the News: Kansas transit center opens thanks to TIGER grant


Mission Transit Center. Image via the Federal Transit Administration.

Mission City, Missouri recently celebrated the grand opening of the Mission Transit Center, a new transportation hub serving Johnson County designed to enhance service for current riders, attract new riders and connect transit to key areas where people live, work and play.

In 2010, the greater Kansas City region was awarded a $50 million grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program to assist transportation and infrastructure projects in the region. As part of the grant, Johnson County was awarded $10.7 million to upgrade its transit system.

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Spotlight on Sustainability: Puget Sound building communities around transit

A Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) regional planning grant is helping the Central Puget Sound region plan for future growth and leverage a significant transportation investment.

Sound Transit Light Rail; credit: LeeLeFever

Investing in Puget Sound

The Central Puget Sound region approved the Sound Transit 2 Plan (ST2) in 2008 to develop and construct more robust regional rapid transit. At an estimated $17.8 billion cost, the majority of which is devoted to 36 additional miles of light rail track, the project will more than double the current system, expanding service to three counties and connecting the larger Seattle metropolitan area. Upon completion, slated for 2023, the project’s planners expect half of all trips to Downtown Seattle will be on transit. ST2 will help support the projected growth of the Puget Sound region in the coming years, with an anticipated 1.5 million new residents by 2040.

The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), an organization focused on planning for regional transportation, growth management and economic development, realized the need to prepare the Puget Sound area for a projected population of 5 million. Working with residents and county, city, and local officials, PSRC developed VISION 2040, a regional strategy for accommodating the area’s projected growth. Complimenting ST2’s efforts, VISION 2040 is a set of regional policies that local jurisdictions must consider when planning their decisions addressing land use, economic, and environmental issues. While an effective framework for regional growth, the plan does not focus on the individual community level and local benefits, opportunities, and potential impacts of ST2. Says Ben Bakkenta of PSRC, “There wasn’t that bridge from the regional vision to the local jurisdiction.”

Growing Transit Communities

To address this gap, PSRC applied for a HUD Regional Planning Grant in 2010. The $5 million grant they received has helped develop strategies for communities receiving new light rail stations, as well as those with other high capacity transit, such as bus rapid transit. Growing Transit Communities seeks to ensure that ST2’s investments help to concentrate housing, jobs, and services near transit, promoting faster and safer travel. Led by a diverse consortium of 39 partners including local governments and regional transit agencies, business organizations and non-profits in the central Puget Sound region’s 3 counties, the project has a particular focus on housing affordability and equal access to opportunity and transit.

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Partnership in the News: HUD officials visiting Texas witness economic development in action

During a recent trip to seven Sustainable Communities grantees in Texas, Department of Housing and Urban Development staff were able to see new and innovative economic development strategies in action. They visited Regional Planning grantees Houston-Galveston Area Council and Heart of Texas Council of Governments near Waco, as well as Austin, which received both Regional Planning and Community Challenge grants, and other Community Challenge grantees Dallas, Fort Worth, and Garland.

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Partnership in the News: GroWNC Inspires "Regional Thinking" in North Carolina Counties

The Smoky Mountain News reported recently that 5 North Carolina counties are coming together with a project called GroWNC, which aims to get the entire Western NC region to think collectively about economic development strategies that include sustainability. GroWNC is currently holding meetings in all 5 counties- Haywood, Transylvania, Buncombe, Henderson and Madison- that will gain feedback on these economic development goals as well as information about residents and their concerns. Participants are being asked questions ranging from what they love most about Western North Carolina to individual demographics to their opinion on the project.

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Partnership in the News: City of Wichita Votes to Participate in $1.5 million HUD grant

The Wichita Eagle reported recently that the Wichita City Council voted 6-1 to join Sedgwick County in participating in a Regional Area Economic Partnership funded by a Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Planning grant. The Regional Area Economic Partnership (REAP) will focus on producing a sustainable community plan to address transportation, water, and health issues. REAP has an existing 23-member consortium that includes 4 other counties as well as Wichita State University.

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Partnership in the News: New Public Engagement Process Launched in Northeast Ohio

The Northeast Ohio Sustainable Communities Consortium, a public initiative in Northeast Ohio that focuses on achieving a sustainable and resilient future for the region, is currently launching an extensive public engagement initiative that will take place over the next few months. Freshwater Cleveland reported recently that NEOSCC is beginning to create a sustainability plan for the region, and hopes to target key demographics like young professionals and urban planners for input on their strategic plan. The NEOSCC initiative is funded in large part by a $4.25 HUD Sustainable Communities Initiative grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.

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Smart growth news – December 12

Forget Stadiums, Cities Should Fight For Apple Stores
Forbes, December 9, 2011
The computer stores have become ‘anchors’ for affluent downtown areas, says Robert Gibbs, an urban economic and planning consultant and author of of “Principles of Urban Retail Planning and Development.” “Sports stadiums do not generate much cross shopping: they’re nice to have but greatly overrated,” Gibbs says. “If you have an Apple store on your Main Street, though, that gives you a kind of ‘good housekeeping seal of approval,’ that’s going to attract others.”

$3.7 million in HUD money to help five Central Texas communities with city planning, design
American-Statesman (Texas), December 10, 2011
A $3.7 million U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development grant awarded to the Capital Area Council of Governments will provide five Central Texas cities with planning and design consulting services through February 2014. The money, through HUD’s Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grants program, will go to Austin, Dripping Springs, Elgin, Hutto and Lockhart.

Debunking public transportation myths
Detroit Free Press, December 11, 2011
The American Public Transportation Association says the long-term trend is clear: Ridership on the nation’s buses, subways, commuter rail lines and other transit systems grew 34% in 1995-2009, outpacing 23% growth in the number of vehicle miles driven on highways in that period. The number of workers who rely on transit regularly grew by a million, to nearly 7 million nationwide, in 2005-09.

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Smart growth news – November 23

That Thanksgiving dinner? Mostly from out of state
Baltimore Sun, November 22, 2011
According to a survey by the land preservation group 1000 Friends of Maryland, 48 percent of our Thanksgiving staples overall are produced in-state. Just 44 percent of the turkeys eaten are raised here, 41 percent of the potatoes (that seems high to me, frankly), 32 percent of the apples, 17 percent of the sweet potatoes and only one-half of 1 percent of the carrots.

Gwinnett to Receive Smart Growth Assistance
Norcross Patch (Ga.), November 23, 2011
Smart Growth America has selected Gwinnett County as one of 15 to receive free technical assistance, it announced last week. The program, which includes a workshop that will be held in Gwinnett sometime in 2012, was made possible from a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency.

TEDx: The economic power of great places
Ted.com, November 17, 2011
Making great places is key to turning around our economy. In this passionate talk, Ilana Preuss shows us why we need to do this better and why these places are in high demand.

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Smart growth news – November 22

A land bank helped Flint, Michigan, expert says, and could help New York cities, too
The Business Review (N.Y.), November 22, 2011
Daniel T. Kildee, founder of the Genesee County Land Bank in Michigan, told a group of about 80 public and private sector officials in Albany, New York, that land banks can help local counties, cities and towns make better use of tax-foreclosed properties.

Valley gets $3.4 million to study development
The Morning Call (Pa.), November 21, 2011
Developers have long tried to lure commute-weary homebuyers with signs that say “If you lived here you’d be home by now.” A consortium of Lehigh Valley planning groups has been awarded $3.4 million by the federal government to try to make that dream — of living closer to work and enjoying an improved quality of life — reachable for more people.

N.J. gets $5 million HUD grant for regional planning
The Star-Ledger (N.J.), November 21, 2011
Federal officials today awarded New Jersey a $5 million grant to develop regional economic plans for 13 northern counties to attract businesses and jobs to areas with solid residential communities and good transportation systems.

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HUD announces 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants awards

A detail from St. Charles Parish, Lousiana’s Comprehensive Land Use Plan. St. Charles Parish is one of the communities selected to receive one of HUD’s 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, announced today. Photo from the St. Charles Parish of Planning and Zoning.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced today its 2011 Sustainable Communities Grants, which aim to improve the economic competitiveness of communities by linking housing with good jobs, quality schools, and transportation. The grants are part of the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which helps urban, suburban and rural communities create jobs and improve housing, transportation, and the economy.

The grants announced today will invest $96 million in 27 communities for Community Challenge grants and 29 areas for Regional Planning grants. Community Challenge Grants help reform and reduce barriers to achieving affordable, economically vital and sustainable communities. Regional Planning Grants encourage grantees to support regional planning efforts that integrate housing, land-use, economic and workforce development, transportation, and infrastructure developments to empowers regions to consider how all of these factors work together to create more jobs and economic opportunities.

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