How much could your town save?

The Gulch

Local leaders across the country have already built their way to better budgets.

Dozens of municipalities have compared development scenarios and the impact they would have on public finances. Nearly as many places have found that they could save money—and increase revenue—by using smarter development strategies.

How much can other communities expect to save with these strategies? And how much revenue, on average, does smart growth development generate compared to the alternatives?

Next week Smart Growth America will release new research that answers these questions. The new report collects local studies from across the country and will unveil new analysis on how smart growth strategies would impact an average municipality’s budget.

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New report reveals bike and pedestrian projects create more jobs than those for cars only

Bike lanes and sidewalks don’t just make streets safer and more convenient – they’re a good investment of transportation funds, too. A new report from the Policy Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that public investments in pedestrian and bicycling infrastructure – including sidewalks, bike lanes, and trails – create more jobs per dollar spent.

The report finds that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure projects create significantly more jobs than infrastructure projects for cars alone. According to the study, bicycle projects create 11.4 jobs for every $1 million invested — 46% more than car-only road projects. Job creation potential decreased as infrastructure dedicated to automobilies increased:

Pedestrian-only projects create an average of about 10 jobs per $1 million, and multi-use trails create nearly as many, at 9.6 jobs per $1 million. Infrastructure that combines road construction with pedestrian and bicycle facilities creates slightly fewer jobs for the same amount of spending, and road-only projects create the least, with a total of 7.8 jobs per $1 million.

Complete Streets

Atlanta sees rising demand for smart growth

A demographic shift is happening in Atlanta: young, educated professionals are moving in to the city and bringing economic development with them. This new wave of talented workers isn’t looking to live just anywhere though. As an article in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution explains, these new residents want to live in neighborhoods close in to the city, with apartments in walking distance to pubs, shops and restaurants. This emerging, economically powerful demographic wants smart growth features.

The article comes in the wake of CEOs for Cities‘ recent report The Young and the Restless in the Knowledge Economy, which explains that Atlanta is not alone in this trend. Young, talented workers are flocking to areas that use smart growth strategies – and employers are following them. As Joe Cortright, senior research advisor explains, “If you have [young, educated professionals], you attract employers and grow your economy. If you are attracting them, it’s usually a sign that your community is getting stronger.”

The fact that young, talented workers are moving to town centers and urban cores across the country is a major shift from the trends of the last generation, and one which CEOs for Cities believes will be crucial for the U.S. economy in years to come. Creating places where the vanguard of the 21st century economy want to live and work – places that are walkable with transportation options and shops and jobs – is helping Atlanta thrive, and it is a model for other regions across the country to follow.

Young professionals lead surge of intown living [Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 4/13/11]

An energy has taken hold in the city of Atlanta, driven by young, college-educated professionals who want – and can afford – a lifestyle rich in variety, diversity and excitement, all close to home. They are moving in by the thousands, transforming abandoned warehouses into lofts, vacant lots into dog parks and communities long in decline into neighborhoods of choice.

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New report and interactive map shows the state of our nation's bridges

Crossposted from Transportation for America

69,223 bridges – representing more than 11 percent of all U.S. highway bridges – are classified as “structurally deficient,” requiring significant maintenance, rehabilitation or replacement, according to a new T4 America report released today, The Fix We’re In: The State of Our Nation’s Bridges.

Those are the facts, and 69,000 bridges sure sounds like a lot, but what does that look like in real terms? Where are these bridges? Does your city or state have a lot of deficient bridges, or does the state do a good job taking care of them? Those questions are going to be much easier to answer with our online tools accompanying the report, launching today at t4america.org/resources/bridges.

We’ve taken the whole federal bridge database and put it online in a map, so you can type your address, and see all the bridges within a ten-mile radius. Structurally deficient bridges will show up as red icons. Click any bridge and you’ll get more information about it, including its rating in a box on the right.

Curious about how your state stacks up? Click on “By State” and click your state to see a quick overview of their performance, including the best and worst five counties, as well as their rank nationally and total percentage of structurally deficient bridges.

The national report and all 51 state reports are being officially released today at noon with a national telebriefing, but you can go ahead and check out the map and data now on our site. (Media members? Contact david.goldberg [at] t4america [dot] org if you want information on the telebriefing.)

Check out the map today and please spread the word about it. We’ll be posting several times throughout the day with more information about the national report, which is available for download now — as well as reports for all 50 states and D.C.

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New profiles provide a closer look at state transportation investments

A new report out today from Smart Growth America analyzes how all 50 states invested their flexible transportation funds from 2009’s American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report examines what projects each state used its funds for, and whether those projects created as many jobs as possible.

Transportation projects create jobs in the short term but can also create the foundation for a stronger economy in the long term – particularly if those projects repair existing roadways or create public transportation options. As Newsweek’s David A. Graham explains:

It’s not enough just to inject money into infrastructure, because not all transportation funding is created equal—or at least, it doesn’t create jobs at an equal rate. As any infrastructure policy wonk can tell you, money spent on fixing up existing systems or building mass transit delivers more jobs, and faster, than building new highways.

Smart Growth America’s new report found that many states didn’t invest their funds this way and in doing so missed a significant opportunity to create more jobs. As a companion to that report, Smart Growth America has released state-specific recommendations for states looking for ways to improve their transportation investments.

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New report reveals smart transportation spending creates jobs, grows the economy

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.

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New report highlights smart growth's return on investment and cost savings

A new report out today from the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP) discusses the myriad economic benefits that smart growth brings to households, communities and municipal governments. The study, titled Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change and Prosperity shows that smart growth development strategies enhance community prosperity and generate economic benefits for local businesses, households and governments.

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New report: State transportation decisions could save money and reduce carbon emissions

Download the ReportA 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.

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