- What a coincidence: seems like transit financing is a problem in NY where a combination of dropping real estate tax, sales tax, and state tax revenues are putting the MTA in the red. The conclusion reached in the article: we need more government subsidy to make up the difference.
- President Obama is moving to undo Bush era changes to weakening enforcement of the Endangered Species Act. I thought this was interesting, considering our own problems with ignorant state legislators trying to do away with growth laws in the name of commerce. “But in a statement, Bill Kovacs, the vice president for environment, technology and regulatory affairs of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, condemned the action as an unreasonable interference with needed projects.”
- Marlins Stadium Update: A new bill is on the floor of the state legislature that would require a county referendum on the use of tourist dollars for the stadium, even as City and County leaders shuffle meetings and complain about each other. Mayor Alvarez is pissed about the way negotiations have been going….join the club dude. Then there is the reappearance our friend Glenn Straub who is offering the old Miami Arena site as an alternative. I like it. This would allow the city to reduce its investment in parking by relying on its existing downtown parking supply. And don’t forget there will already be a neighborhood growing up around the Park West thanks to the Miami WorldCenter project. And it has transit connections. And it frees up the Orange Bowl site for other purposes (can anyone say Manny Diaz Memorial Park?) BUT we still don’t know all the details, and you know what they say about details…
- Miami-Dade is getting serious about skate parks. Cool.
- Those state legislators - what schizophrenia. While trying to undo growth laws (a bad move) they go and push ahead with the recently named Sunrail (a really good move). “He pegs the price of SunRail at close to $1billion. But that is a bargain, SunRail enthusiasts say, when compared to the estimated $7billion it would cost to add one lane in either direction to Interstate 4 for the 61.5 miles covered by the train.” Sounds convincing to me. This is really cool, and will hopefully coincide with the Obama administration’s push for a national intercity railway network. Tamiami trail here we come.
- The FTA just released the Federal Register Notice describing the allocation of the $8.4 Billion transit stimulus. More on this later….
The New York Times is reporting that stimulus funds are quickly being channeled into more of the same: Highways, highways, and well, more highways. Kansas in particular is being quite brazen with their new found funds, choosing to build just a few “game-changers.” I am not sure how widening interstate 69 will be a game changer, other that pretty soon commute times will be even longer.
Maryland is taking a more prudent approach, spreading its money around the state for “fix-it first” projects.
Of particular note is the frustration being expressed by Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, who incidently wants to tear down the Alaskan Viaduct Freeway to build a Boston Big Dig-like tunnel, and who will not receive any stimulus cash from his state’s DOT.
The fact is that the 100 largest metropolitan areas in this country generate 75 percent of the gross national product, so if you’re going to create jobs, that’s where you’re going to do it.”
We do know that a few states, like Massachusetts, are planning to spend at least half of their money on transit. Florida’s plans have yet to be announced. Nonetheless, Obama’s “the days of sprawl are over,” is mostly just empty rhetoric when such important funding decisions are made by the DOT kings and all their highwaymen.
The livable streets and smart growth blogosphere was set fire today when President Obama declared the end of sprawl in Fort Meyers, Florida — a poster child for the sprawl-induced mortgage meltdown.
The days where we’re just building sprawl forever, those days are over. I think that Republicans, Democrats, everybody… recognizes that’s not a smart way to design communities. So we should be using this money to help spur this sort of innovative thinking when it comes to transportation.
Note this comes in direct opposition to a sprawl proliferation project Obama talked up the day before in Indiana.
Urbanist and well-known writer Neil Peirce almost always gets it right. In his latest article, “Obama Open Government: The Stimulus Bill Test,” he asserts the importance of using stimulus funds for fixing existing roadway infrastructure, and directing funds to metropolitan areas, via MPOs, to get things like mass transit built.
With reports indicating state highway departments are ready to divert major portions of stimulus funds to new and broadened roads, national guidelines should put a premium on “fix it first” programs for decaying highways and bridges, plus transit and rail service. The new green mantra should be “No new lane miles!” And the law should require major allocation of funds to metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs), with rules leading them to repair first and focus significantly on transit, undergirding the 80 percent of the American economy their regions represent.
I thought it was relevant to share this May 18th Barak Obama speech to residents of Portland. (Not that we want to endorse any one candidate, yet).
“It’s time that the entire country learn from what’s happening right here in Portland with mass transit and bicycle lanes and funding alternative means of transportation. That’s the kind of solution that we need for America. That’s the kind of truth telling that we are going to do in this campaign and when I am President of the United States of America. We don’t need gimmicks.”
Watch the entire speech here.
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