With the announcement that Kelly Gregory and Mary Welcome have been selected to serve as artists-in-residence with WSDOT for a year, Washington becomes the first state to embed an artist in a statewide agency.
Washington is taking groundbreaking steps few other states have taken to match its transportation investments with statewide policy goals. We helped the state work with stakeholders to answer three key questions: what does economic vitality look like for the state, how does transportation impact the economy, and how do we measure that to guide decisions?
Tacoma, WA Mayor Marilyn Strickland considers her city “the best kept secret in Washington State,” and smart growth strategies are helping make the city an even better place to live and work.
“Tacoma kind of got bypassed during the whole urban renewal phase of the late 60s and 70s, so as a result a lot of historic property did not get razed,” Strickland says. “So we have this beautiful stock of old warehouses and historic property.”
“Seattle Streetcar,” by Flickr user Sean Marshall.
For those not familiar, they could be forgiven for mistaking the opening speaker at this month’s Transit Financing Workshop in Seattle for an ardent smart growth advocate. And in many ways he is. He just also happens to be the Mayor of Seattle.
Mayor Michael McGinn’s comments about the critical role walkable neighborhoods and transit play in economic development set the stage for a day-long event about transit-oriented development in the Puget Sound region on October 4, 2012. Sponsored by Transportation for America, LOCUS Washington, the Transportation Choices Coalition, ULI Northwest and the Quality Growth Alliance, the event brought together leaders from the business, real estate, advocacy, and government sectors to discuss transit, transit-finance, and how the Seattle region can better position itself for future growth.
A rendering of the long-term vision community planners have for 25th and Pacific Ave (Dome/Brewery District). Photo from the Brewery District Development Concept Study.
The City of Tacoma currently has its sights on two major smart growth initiatives that will aide in the economic revitalization of two inner city neighborhoods: the Dome/Brewery District and the Martin Luther King Jr. neighborhood.
Due to the recession and budget constraints, however, the city currently lacks the tools needed to effectively set goals and benchmark, evaluate and recognize progress for the projects. Tacoma is therefore looking to leverage existing efforts and resources to successfully revitalize these two neighborhoods. In this vein, Tacoma applied for and received a free technical assistance workshop from Smart Growth America funded by EPA’s Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities program. The two day workshop focused on using LEED-ND to accelerate the development of sustainable communities.
A new campaign in Washington is fighting to improve transportation for people across the state. Transportation for Washington, a project launched this week by Smart Growth America’s coalition partners Futurewise and the Transportation Choices Coalition, is calling for better repair and maintenance of roads across the state as well as more transportation choices for Washingtonians. These transportation spending strategies – which are in line with many of Smart Growth America’s recent recommendations for Washington – create jobs, spur economic growth and improve Washington’s transportation system at the same time.
Roger Millar, Director of Smart Growth America’s Leadership Institute, discussed these same issues with Ross Reynolds on KUOW-94.9 Seattle’s The Conversation earlier this week. Together with Mike Ennis, Director of the Center for Transportation at the Washington Policy Center, Millar discussed the state of Washington’s transportation system and how the state can get more out of their transportation dollars:
Funding for public transportation is currently a hot topic in Washington state. A bill recently introduced to the state legislature would allow local transit agencies to seek funding to finance public transit projects. According to the Washington Transportation Commission, Washington currently has over $200 billion in unfunded transportation projects – and that need is growing.