More than a decade ago, local business and civic leaders in Indianapolis realized that for the city to remain competitive it needed to be better at moving people. Today, after an exhaustive planning process, changes to state law, and a successful local referendum where local voters raised their income taxes to invest in transit, the first major piece of Indianapolis’s transit upgrade is set to open.
With all of the attention showered on “Crystal City” (Arlington, VA adjacent to DC) and Long Island City (Queens, New York City) after being selected as Amazon’s second/third headquarters, what are the lessons to learn for the 236 other disappointed communities, and what strategies could improve their future prospects?
In a few weeks, Northern Virginia’s first bus rapid transit service will begin operations on dedicated busways through Alexandria, VA’s burgeoning Potomac Yard neighborhood. A visitor standing under one of the new station awnings can see a string of cranes stretching from north to south along US Route 1, at work on the planned 3000 residential units, 4 million square feet of office space, and 1 million square feet of retail space along the transit corridor. Alexandria City Councilor Tim Lovain, who championed the busway as an essential tool to support high-density growth in this corridor, smiles broadly as he describes the accomplishment, but is even more interested in the transit lines still under development in the city.
Many of these transit projects are included in the Transportation Master Plan Councilor Lovain helped adopt in 2008 during his first term on the Council. In addition to the Route 1 corridor, that plan identified two more high-priority corridors where bus rapid transit will be developed in anticipation of future streetcar lines. Both of those corridors are in the City’s newer West End, which is characterized by car-oriented, lower density development. West End neighborhoods are more difficult to serve with transit, but Councilor Lovain makes the case for it as an essential tool for economic survival in the transit-rich metropolitan Washington, DC region.
Train in Vain
Slate – January 27, 2012
The idiotic Department of Transportation rule that’s hobbled America’s mass transit—and the wonderful regulation that may soon replace it.
What Pictures Can Teach Us About Walkability
The Atlantic Cities – January 30, 2012
I’m not sure there is any one word that describes my concept of a sustainable community place more than walkability. At least when it comes to describing the physical aspects of a place. Is it safe, comfortable, and enjoyable to walk in? Does it have an abundance of places to walk to and from? Is it human-scaled? If the answer is yes, chances are that it also has many of the characteristics that smart growth and urbanist planners strive to achieve: density, mixed uses, connectivity, appropriate traffic management, street frontages, opportunity for physical activity, and so on.
House Republicans to unveil transportation bill
Washington Post – January 30, 2012
Spreading about $260 billion over a five-year span, the House proposal would continue to fund transportation programs at close to current levels.
U.S. mayors call for infrastructure spending and protection of grant programs
Orlando Sentinel – January 18, 2012
“The economic recovery is too slow, and it is a direct result of the inaction of this Congress in 2011,” said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “If we gave the 112th Congress a mid-term report card, the grade would be clear. Congress would get an ‘F.’”
Federal-State Meeting Planned to Rally for Foreclosure Accord
Bloomberg Business Week – January 19, 2012
State attorneys general are being invited to meet with U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan and a Justice Department official to rally support for a proposed settlement with banks over foreclosure practices, said the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.
Planning workshop brings circus atmosphere to Marin
Marin Independent Journal – January 19, 2012
The video’s narrator concluded with a call to action: “Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and work together to plan how the Bay Area might grow over the next 25 years?” “No,” a chorus of audience members shouted as private security guards and sheriff’s deputies stood by.
Sprawl’s spread speeds up
Sacramento Bee, November 7, 2011
Goodbye, farm. Hello, subdivision. Despite talk of smart growth, urban Sacramento didn’t check its sprawl in the past 10 years, but ballooned instead, spreading out at a faster pace than in decades past, according to a Bee analysis of new census figures.
U.S. House Likely to Address Infrastructure Bill by Year-End, Boehner Says
Bloomberg, November 6, 2011
“You’re going to see the House move, I think, before the end of the year on an infrastructure bill,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said on ABC’s “This Week.” Boehner said last week the House will consider legislation to finance infrastructure construction, in part, by expanding energy production.
Dan Gilbert’s development blueprint for Cleveland looks similar to Detroit’s
Detroit Free Press, November 6, 2011
If you think Quicken Loans founder and Chairman Dan Gilbert is having an impact on downtown Detroit, you ought to see what he’s doing in Cleveland. Since Gilbert bought the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team in 2005, he has renovated Cleveland’s renamed Quicken Loans Arena (The Q), opened a mortgage banking center that now employs 300, built a $25-million practice facility for the Cavs, and is deep into construction for a $350-million Phase I of his future Horseshoe Casino in a former department store downtown, with a 16-acre new casino to follow in a few years. Gilbert’s investments in and around downtown Cleveland will total close to $1 billion.
The Case for a D.C.-Baltimore Mega-Region
Atlantic Cities, September 16, 2011
Last Friday, Maryland released the latest draft of PlanMaryland, the state’s ambitious effort “to encourage smart growth and to discourage sprawl.” The new draft takes into account comments received since the previous version, which was released in April. It makes a compelling case for developing Maryland into higher density residential pockets strategically placed along established lines of road, transit, and water infrastructure. If it succeeds, Maryland circa 2035 will be dominated by a strong orange-red D.C.-Baltimore mega-region.
Philadelphia plan aims high for vitality, resilience
NRDC Switchboard, September 16, 2011
Earlier this year, the city adopted the first key phase of the plan, a “Citywide Vision” that stresses such important topics as efficient transportation and connectivity, parks and open space, diverse and authentic neighborhoods, and taking advantage of legacy industrial areas ripe for redevelopment.
‘Slice of Saugatuck’ highlights neighborhood’s resilience
Westport News (Conn.), September 15, 2011
“We wanted to bring a neighborhood and village feel back to Saugatuck,” said Gault President Sam Gault. “The vision was to have a true smart-growth, mixed-use project where you have people working and utilizing the retail shops as well as people living there.”