Do you find yourself frustrated by traffic congestion, lack of bike lanes or sidewalks, inability to take a bus or train to your destination? Well, Building America’s Future has released an updated version of their ‘I’m Stuck!’ app that allows people to directly send messages to their Congressional representatives – urging them to start funding the necessary improvements to make our communities mobile and safe. More from Streetsblog Capitol Hill:
Among the new features of their app redesign, BAF has added a way to tell Congress you need better bicycle infrastructure… According to BAF, the app has been downloaded 11,000 times and 3,500 messages have been sent to Congress. The old version didn’t let them track how many were complaining about sitting in traffic versus how many were complaining about inferior transit. And as we mentioned last time, you’ll have to customize your message if you want to make sure Congress knows that you’re not asking for more car lanes but rather a transit line that would get you off the road altogether. And remember, distracted driving rules apply.
A recent study found that while Metro does more with less than 11 peer cities, it woefully lags behind the rest when it comes to the amount and diversity of its service. In fact, Cincinnati was one of only four regions studied without any rail transit, and was the largest of those four. One of the peer cities studied is Minneapolis, which already has light rail and commuter rail in addition to its bus service, and now is moving forward with two, possibly three modern streetcar lines. More from the Star Tribune:
The transportation and public works committee gave the green light to move forward with an environmental review and “pre-project development activities” on the proposed $200 million, 3.4-mile Nicollet Avenue streetcar line. They simultaneously approved moving forward with a jointly funded alternatives analysis to study the possibility of building streetcars along West Broadway in North Minneapolis…Planning for a third transit line – possibly streetcars – is also underway for the Midtown Corridor. That process is being led by the Metropolitan Council.
I visited Utah earlier this year to see what they were doing with their transit systems, and was stunned to see the amount of investment made in transportation infrastructure. The Salt Lake City region boasts new highways, commuter rail, light rail and streetcars, bike share, bus improvements and inter-city passenger and freight rail enhancements. But how is this possible in one of the most conservative cities and states in the U.S.? Well it’s simple; they have increased taxes and relied on the business community to sell those tax increases to the public. When and if the business community in Cincinnati will ever step up and do the same is a great question to ask. More from the Salt Lake Tribune:
McAdams noted that the approach of selling transportation as a way to improve the economy helped build support needed for the Utah Transit Authority to just complete adding 70 miles of new rail lines two years early and under budget, and for such highway projects as using local money to rebuild Interstate 15 in Utah County.
McAdams noted that state and regional planners for highways and mass transit in Utah recently issued a unified plan for projects needed through 2040. The Utah Foundation issued a subsequent report saying current taxes would fall $11.3 billion short over 30 years to fund priority projects identified in that unified plan…Utah business and civic leaders have used such data to persuade the Legislature this year to study how and whether to raise taxes to fund projects in the 2040 plan. For example, its Transportation Interim Committee is scheduled Wednesday to discuss potentially raising gasoline taxes to meet some of the needs.
After losing at the ballot box, the Astrodome appears to be on life support as pressure mounts to tear down the vacant engineering and architectural marvel. To some this is representative of the ongoing preservation battle being waged on behalf of modernist architecture. To other’s it is purely economics. Should we, as a people, be working to preserve objects from the modernist movement, and how exactly does the iconic Astrodome fit into that equation? More from NextCity:
Has the nation made the Astrodome into a powerful and motivating symbol of modernism’s plight? No, but that actually shows a positive acceptance of the style. Few media reports of the referendum this week even discussed the building’s style, let alone the usual quibbling over appreciation of modern design. Reporters quoted voters more concerned about the cost of the proposed renovation. The vote went down peacefully, without much of the palpable outcry that led to the recent preservation victory for Hilario Candela’s Miami Marine Stadium.
Until its closure in 1999, the Astrodome was the broadcast setting to mainstream sporting events, concerts and oddities like daredevil Evil Knievel’s jump over 13 cars in 1971 and Bobby Riggs and Billie Jean King’s tennis match (the “Battle of the Sexes”) in 1973. Most recently, the mighty structure seared itself into the epic and unresolved recovery narrative of Hurricane Katrina. Thousands of refugee Americans made the Astrodome into a camp in 2005, turning the stadium into a panopticon of despair.
While it appears that Mayor-elect John Cranley (D) and the new city council are poised to cancel and default on the city’s Parking Lease & Modernization deal signed five months ago, other cities are moving forward with modernizing their parking assets and bringing their parking technology into the 21st century. More from Peninsula Transportation Alternatives:
At a study session, the San Mateo City council leaned favorably toward a downtown parking plan that would vary prices based on usage, make parking in further lots cheaper and central streets more expensive; and would use parking revenues to help pay to reduce vehicle trips.
A thorough study of parking occupancy found that core on-street spaces fill up at peak times, but off-street structures and peripheral spaces have room. In addition to using pricing to incent people to use the available spaces, the study recommended using signage with branding and dynamic information as well as mobile applications to help visitors find parking and seeing how many spaces are available.
Losing population isn’t fun, and a host of cities throughout the U.S. have been losing population since their collective peaks in the 1950s. Cincinnati is one of those cities. Along with the troubling finances this presents, it also creates the predicament of deciding what to do with vacant households left behind. In Cincinnati, and many others, the decision has been to tear down homes and hope for something better. More from The New York Times:
A recent Brookings Institution study found that from 2000 to 2010 the number of vacant housing units nationally had increased by 4.5 million, or 44 percent. And a report by the University of California, Berkeley, determined that over the past 15 years, 130 cities, most with relatively small populations, have dissolved themselves, more than half the total ever recorded in the United States. The continuing struggles of former manufacturing centers have fundamentally altered urban planning, traditionally a discipline based on growth and expansion.
Under Roxanne Qualls’ (D) guidance, Cincinnati dove into priority-driven budgeting in 2012. The proposal had mixed reviews and ultimately City Council ended up ignoring much of what the public had to say in order to prevent any cuts to public safety. The concept of participatory budgeting, however, is gaining popularity nationwide, and Chicago is looking to implement it city-wide in the near future. More from NextCity:
Five years after Moore’s district first tried participatory budgeting, three other wards have followed its lead, picking up a practice pioneered 25 years ago in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Since 2011, nine city council districts in New York adopted it. The city of Vallejo, Calif. did the samelast year, as did one council district in San Francisco. The results are promising, with participation levels relatively strong and zero scandals to date.