The Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP), in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council and the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, has released a new report, Homes for a Changing Region, highlighting the work of five communities in West Cook County. These communities received Community Challenge grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The report will provide housing supply and workforce data that will help the communities plan and acquire property for future affordable housing and mixed-use developments.
Alton Mayor Tom Hoechst, Godfrey Mayor Mike McCormick, and Grafton Mayor Tom Thompson addressed economic development in each of their communities at a RiverBend Growth Association event this week, reports The Telegraph.
Among the many exciting initiatives, Mayor Hoechst spoke about the immense economic benefits that the $14 million dollar Alton Multimodal Station, funded by a Department of Transportation TIGER grant, will bring to the region.
Hoechst said the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, grant would help boost the economy, and not just in Alton. Some 65 million people travel by rail and the improvements to the system would allow more people to come to town.
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.
CNBC released its list today of the top 10 most walkable cities in America, and includes in it a discussion of the growing trend among towns and cities to create neighborhoods with pedestrian-friendly streets and bustling downtown shopping districts. These features are a key part of smart growth development strategies and, as CNBC writer Cindy Perman explains, walkable neighborhoods have benefits beyond street-level charm. Walkable neighborhoods feel safer and more social, and help build exercise into daily routines. But even more importantly, walkable neighborhoods bring economic benefits:
You wouldn’t spend much time hanging around in the parking lot of a strip mall in a car-dependent suburb. But, you would linger in a very walkable city, which means you’re more inclined to spend more. Quite a bit more, in fact. The Urban Land Institute studied two Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC, one walkable and one not. They found that the Barnes & Noble book store in the walkable suburb made 20 percent more in profits than the one in the driving-dependent suburb.
“We call that a place-making dividend,” McMahon said. “People stay longer and come back more often and spend more money in places that attract their affection.”
There’s an economic benefit for homeowners, too: Homes in walkable cities hold their value better than those that were heavily reliant on driving, according to Smart Growth America, a group that promotes “smart growth” instead of suburban sprawl.
By Kristi DeLaurentiisDid you know that more than 20 percent of the water we consume in our homes—the kind of water that’s treated to drinking quality, as in good-enough-to-be-EvianHinkleySprings-water—is simply flushed away as toilet water each …
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.
A new report released today by Smart Growth America and the Natural Resources Defense Council found that transportation policies in every state could save money and reduce carbon emissions by making smarter decisions with state funds.
In “Getting Back on Track: Climate Change and State Transportation Policy,” SGA and NRDC found that current transportation policies in almost all 50 states either fail to curb carbon emission rates or, in some cases, actually increase emissions. This contradiction between state policies and broader efforts to reduce carbon emissions means not only that many states are missing opportunities to protect clean air; it means they are missing economic opportunities as well.
In a press conference this morning, former Maryland Governor Parris Glendening remarked:
Transportation makes up an enormous proportion of our national economy and our environmental impact: it must be front and center as we think about how to get the most out of our public investments. The states that rose to the top in this report, California, Maryland and New Jersey, are there because they are meeting the challenge to innovate.
The following is a guest post from SGA coalition partner Center for Neighborhood Techology, and is part of an ongoing series about winners of the 2010 Partnership for Sustainable Communities federal grants. If your organization applied for, considered applying for or was awarded one of these grants, we want to hear about your experience! Tell us about it here.
Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning recently won a $4.25 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to begin making the Agency’s ambitious long-range development plans a reality. Chicago’s GO TO 2040 plan aims to create a stronger regional economy for the Chicago area by way of more livable communities, improved government efficiency and better transportation options for residents. The HUD grant award will help communities put those plans in to action.
The Department of Transportation just announced the recipients of its $600 million TIGER II competitive grant program. Complete streets projects across the country will be funded.
|A page from the introduction to CMAP’s GO TO 2040 report.|
Chicago’s Metropolitan Agency for Planning announced today a visionary plan how the city and its surrounding counties should grow and develop over the next 30 years. The GO TO 2040 project is “a comprehensive regional plan seeks to maintain and strengthen our region’s position as one of the nation’s few global economic centers.” After three years of research, the Agency lays out four main themes in its comprehensive new report: livable communities (including housing, water, energy, parks and local food), human capital (including education and the workforce), efficient governance (including tax reforms) and regional mobility (including strategic investment in transportation).