How bad land use and transportation decisions go hand-in-hand with “The Congestion Con”

In an expensive, decades-long effort to curb congestion in urban regions, our transportation agencies and elected leaders have overwhelmingly prioritized spending hundreds of billions of dollars to widen and build new highways. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand, and in many cases, has actually made it worse. The Congestion Con, a new report from our Transportation for America program, examines how and why, and in this post we look at how land use is right in the middle of it all.

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Smart growth news – August 15

Downtown supporters: Time is now for revitalization
Midland Reporter-Telegram (Texas), August 13, 2011
Shelton said she’d support a mixed-use property that would allow for office space on the upper floors and retail or restaurants on the ground-level. Some members of the DMMD said the renovation of the Ritz Cultural Events Center could be a catalyst of sorts as it aims to bring several hundred people downtown at least a few nights a week.


Smart growth can curb traffic deaths
The Seattle Times, August 13, 2011
A study by researchers of 280 U.S. counties rated by how sprawled-out their development is. The survey showed that the 10 counties highest in “smart growth” — i.e., compact and mixed forms of development — had less than a quarter the per capita traffic fatality rates than the 10 with the most scattered and single-use growth patterns.

Nassau needs a downtown
Newsday (N.Y.), August 12, 2011
A vibrant mixed-use development — a model of smart growth principles including green technologies — would propel our economy and add new dimensions to life on Long Island. The development should create office space for new entrepreneurial businesses, especially biotech, spurred by the nearby academic and research institutions. Rental housing could support these businesses, and attract young professionals, including graduate students and other new residents. The development should be a planned, walkable destination that includes restaurants, retail businesses and a downtown center similar to Reston, Va. — where people come to shop and to dine, to work, to attend a concert, to play or watch sports.


“Slugging” saves DC/VA Drivers and Riders Time and Money

David LeBlanc started slugging in 1997 and has been doing it ever since. He’s such a strong slugging supporter that he wrote a short guide and system map for users and now runs the Slug Lines website which is dedicated to the idea.

“Slugging” is an innovative, grassroots form of commuting in Washington DC and Northern Virginia that helps commuters get in and out of the city easily and efficiently. High occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, which require two or more passengers to use, provided the inspiration: drivers who would like to use the more efficient lanes pick up passengers – nicknamed “slugs” – and passengers, for their part, get a free and easy ride into the city. People almost always ride with strangers, but there’s a thriving community of devoted “sluggers.”

No one regulates or manages slugging; it’s a grassroots community of commuters who create carpools on the fly. A few other cities around the country have tried it to varying degrees, but it’s uniquely successful in the DC metro area. No one has ever conducted a formal survey or tally, but in 2007 the Virginia DOT pegged the number of daily sluggers at approximately 10,000 commuters.

LeBlanc visited Smart Growth America’s headquarters this week to discuss some of the frequently asked questions about slugging.


Smart growth news – July 11, 2011

Fire departments and new urbanism’s village design at odds
USA Today, July 6, 2011
Urban villages, quaint and pedestrian-friendly developments embraced by environmentalists, are sparking opposition from fire officials who say the streets are too narrow for their fire engines.

Two roads to traffic relief for D.C. area
The Washington Post, July 9, 2011
We’re stuck in traffic and jammed aboard trains, and we really want to know if anybody has a way out of this mess, a road map for solutions within our lifetimes. I asked Richard Parsons, president of the Suburban Maryland Transportation Alliance, and Stewart Schwartz, executive director of the Coalition for Smarter Growth, to define the problem, propose solutions and tell us how we would know if their ideas worked. Their routes to relief follow different maps.

N.J. development sprawl has continued, study says, July 9, 2011
“Large-lot subdivisions lock in a residential land-use pattern that excludes many New Jersey residents that can’t afford large single-family homes and often prevents those people from living near their jobs,” Hasse said. “When housing growth doesn’t keep up with job growth, that’s inconsistent with the goals of smart growth and it means gridlock traffic with people having to travel to their jobs.”

The Costs of Smart Growth Revisited: A 40 Year Perspective
New Geography, July 8, 2011
“Soaring” land and house prices “certainly represent the biggest single failure” of smart growth, which has contributed to an increase in prices that is unprecedented in history. This finding could well have been from our new The Housing Crash and Smart Growth, but this observation was made by one of the world’s leading urbanologists, Sir Peter Hall, in a classic work 40 years ago.


National traffic congestion report gets daily driving backwards

A new report out today from CEOs for Cities criticizes the Travel Time Index, an annual scoring of metropolitan areas and their congestion. The Index for each urban area in the US is released annually as part of the Texas Transportation Institute’s Urban Mobility Report and heavily influences decision-makers looking for solutions to traffic congestion. … Continued


Geoff Anderson, SGA CEO, talks transportation equity on Destination Casa Blanca

[left to right]: Joshua Schank from the Bipartisan Policy Center, Geoff Anderson from Smart Growth America, and Deron Lovaas from the Natural Resources Defense Council discuss transportation policy with Ray Suarez on Destination Casa Blanca on July 29. Screenshot from HITN. Transportation investment decisions have had many inequitable impacts on low-income and minority communities in … Continued


Arlington, Virginia's story of smart growth: The movie

If you’ve been around the conversation on growth and development for any amount of time, you’ve undoubtedly heard someone bring up Arlington, Virginia. Arlington is the bit of Virginia just across the Potomac River from the monumental core of Washington, DC that leveraged the arrival of two Metro rail lines in the 60’s and 70’s to renew and revitalize their county into a prosperous, enjoyable and livable community that is a sought-after destination for employers, businesses, residents and visitors.


Rethinking traffic congestion

This video comes to us from Sightline up in the Pacific Northwest. I’d summarize it myself, but Sightline’s Eric de Place does it better himself: It’s difficult to illustrate the opportunities that are available now on our roads. We don’t need big expensive building projects, just smarter systems that protect both our pocketbooks and our … Continued