Thank you to everyone who joined LOCUS for a live discussion of Transit-Oriented Development Opportunities in Albuquerque on Thursday, October 19, 2017. In case you missed the live event, you can read the event summary and watch the recorded version here.
LOCUS’ next webinar, Transit-Oriented Development Opportunities in Albuquerque, will take place on Thursday, October 19th from 1:00-2:00 PM EDT. We’re excited to bring together developers and investors from across the country to discuss transit-oriented development opportunities along Albuquerque’s historic main street, Central Avenue.
New Mexico’s Doña Ana County is facing a number of challenges as it plans for the future. Compared to the rest of New Mexico, the county has a younger population, higher poverty rate, larger Hispanic population and higher combined transportation and housing costs. Now, Doña Anna County is implementing a new plan to address these challenges, made possible through a grant from the Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The project is called Camino Real: Regional Plan for Sustainable Development, and it will address the county’s long-term growth trends, capacity of infrastructure, and the ability of the county to serve its residents.
In 2012, the region adopted One Valley, One Vision 2040, the first ever comprehensive plan encompassing Doña Ana County, the City of Las Cruces and other municipalities within the county. However, this plan dates back to 1995 and did not anticipate factors including a nearly 25% growth in population and major investments in multi-modal rail in surrounding areas. In order for Doña Ana County to realize it’s goals of sustainable growth over the next 25 years, a new comprehensive plan was needed in preparation.
Doña Ana County is expected to grow by nearly 90,000 residents by 2040 and nearly half of it’s current residents are under the age of 30. A future development plan will account for a range of housing choices connected to regional transportation networks and consider ways to ensure mobility for an aging population, expanding rural transportation, providing low-cost and efficient transportation and better integration of transportation and land use.
Railyard Park in Santa Fe, a former brownfield site. Image by Sacker Foto via Flickr.
The Santa Fe Railyard in Santa Fe, NM has played an important role in the city’s history. With the help of the EPA’s brownfield program, the Railyard will be part of life in Santa Fe for years to come.
Built in 1880, the railroad connected New Mexico’s rugged desertscapes to the country’s westward expansion. The Railyard, a 50-acre depot located in the southwest corner of today’s downtown, became a hub of activity and a cultural center. But as interstate highway and air travel became popular, the once-proud Railyard began to fall into obsolescence and disrepair. By 1987, the Railyard was a blighted site in need of redevelopment, and contaminated from years of industrial use.
On Saturday, August 18, city officials from Las Cruces and county officials from Doña Ana County met together to inform the public and gather feedback on the region’s plans for the future. The meeting was meant to give “people in the community a chance to learn what this very big planning effort is all about,” County Commissioner Billy Garrett explained. “It gave people the opportunity to talk to the planners, make suggestions and, overall, to get the public involved. I think the turnout was great.”
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.
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.
This week’s news include a new policy in Rockville, MD, some complete streets inspired musings in Indiana, data supporting the safety in numbers theory, and more.