Beefed-Up Transit Essential for Booming Brooklyn

Tobias Salinger | Commercial Observer

The Brooklyn Museum hosted the event.With Brooklyn’s stature in the city’s real estate industry no longer just an emerging trend, top policy makers and power brokers drew attention to transportation issues as critical to continuing real estate development in the world’s hottest borough today at the annual Massey Knakal Realty Services Brooklyn summit at the Brooklyn Museum.

Although many of the borough’s bustling areas already enjoy bus and subway connections, speakers who led off the day-long program referenced new approaches to the city’s parking requirements, potential novel ways to transport commuters between the boroughs and Manhattan and the need to ease congestion on the busy Lexington Avenue subway train. Mayor Bill de Blasio‘s administration checked in at the conference with pledges to beef up transit capacity between the neighborhoods of Brooklyn.

“We have to think about how to knit them together,” said city Economic Development Corporation President Kyle Kimball. “We’re, as part of this new administration, taking a hard look at new ways to move people around.”

The city and Downtown Brooklyn stakeholders need to address the overcrowded 4 and 5 trains currently running between Manhattan and the downtown area “in order to think about long-term growth,” Mr. Kimball added. The calls for increased transit options echo those from research showing that walkable, urban areas served by mass transit command a 206-percent rent premium over driving suburbs in the New York City area, the largest disparity of any metropolitan area in the country, according to a report released this summer by theGeorge Washington University School of Business. Both the attractiveness of transit-oriented development to young people and the nature of the city’s parking mandates for new developments are causing the new administration to examine what the mayor’s housing plan refers to as “stringent” car parking stipulations for new developments, said Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development. Read more

 

Seattle weighing new tax on builders for affordable housing

Sanjay Bhatt | Seattle Times

The Brooklyn Museum hosted the event.Frustrated with skyrocketing rents that price out modest-wage workers, the Seattle City Council could consider a tax on all new commercial and apartment projects in the city’s denser areas to pay for more affordable housing.

The so-called “linkage fees” would apply to all new offices, hotels, retail stores and labs, as well as apartment projects in areas zoned low-rise and denser. The fees would be phased in over three years.

“I want to make sure this is a city for everyone, from the Ph.D. at the Fred Hutch to the immigrant janitor in an Amazon building,” said Seattle City Councilmember Mike O’Brien, chair of the land-use committee that heard a consultant’s recommendations on Tuesday. “The market is just not producing that level of affordability anymore.” Read more

MetroRail is Coming to LAX and the Westside – Time to Focus on Station Design

Ken Alpern | City Watch

Map of winning projects selected by USDOT beginning in February 2010 to receive funding from the TIGER grant program. Click a pin to find out more about the project. Information and project descriptions provided in part by the USDOT, some alterations of descriptions and information by Transportation for America. Find out more from T4 America at http://t4america.org/resources/tigermapAfter talking, listening, debating and arguing about how best to get the expanding MetroRail system to LAX, the Westside and South Bay, we’re now budgeted and en route to building a north-south light rail line to connect the east-west Crenshaw and Green Lines, as well as a tentative LAX People Mover connection to the airport central terminals.  And with the Mid-City heartily weighing in on theirown segment of the light rail line, it’s time for the Westside, LAX and South Bay to weigh in as well.

This Thursday night, on September 18th between 7:15 – 9:00 pm, in the second floor auditorium (Room 200) the West LA Muncipal Building (near the intersection of Santa Monica Blvd. and Corinth Ave.), the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee (co-chaired by yours truly and fellow CityWatch contributor Matthew Hetz) will offer Westchester, Westside and other residents the opportunity to weigh in on the future local stations to benefit their communities.

 

Metro representative JC Lacey will provide a station-by-station update and overview of the future Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail Line, and will provide maps, discuss grade separations, connectivity of the line with bus routes, address native tree or other plantings, station-adjacent developments and any unresolved or ongoing issues. Read more

Mesa names downtown vision committee

Eric Jay Toll | Phoenix Business Journal

Three design firms are competing for the future Mesa City Center design. The team of Otak and Mayer/Reed (image) propose preserving mature downtown trees on islands in a water setting emulating Mesa's history of canals.

Three design firms are competing for the future Mesa City Center design. The team of Otak and Mayer/Reed (image) propose preserving mature downtown trees on islands in a water setting emulating Mesa’s history of canals.

 

Mesa Mayor Alex Finter and the city council are taking leadership seriously as the city shakes off the recession and starts planning the future of Mesa.

In the past three weeks, the city has unveiled the fruits of City Center design competition, heard a strategic vision for the Falcon Field area and now have locked in a citizen committee to recommend downtown transformation.

Downtown visioning is being spurred by the pending completion of the Metro Light Rail extension, a series of new and proposedresidential developments in central Mesa and its newly opened downtown satellite college campuses.

Finter and Vice Mayor Chris Glover announced the committee appointments and charged the group with recommending policies to encourage transit-oriented development, improved market prospects and opportunities to boost private investment. Read more

 

US DOT Awards 72 TIGER Grants, But the Program Remains in Jeopardy

Tanya Snyder | StreetsBlog USA

Map of winning projects selected by USDOT beginning in February 2010 to receive funding from the TIGER grant program. Click a pin to find out more about the project. Information and project descriptions provided in part by the USDOT, some alterations of descriptions and information by Transportation for America. Find out more from T4 America at http://t4america.org/resources/tigermap

Map of winning projects selected by USDOT beginning in February 2010 to receive funding from the TIGER grant program. Click a pin to find out more about the project. Information and project descriptions provided in part by the USDOT, some alterations of descriptions and information by Transportation for America. 

This afternoon, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx will announce the latest round of TIGER grantsawarding $600 million among 72 transportation projects in 46 states and the District of Columbia. You can see all TIGER grants to date or just the latest round — TIGER VI — in this map from Transportation for America.

Here are a few things to know about the state of the program:

Demand for these grants still far outstrips supply. U.S. DOT received 797 eligible applications this time, up from 585 in 2013, requesting 15 times the $600 million available for the program. TIGER fills a significant void in the federal transportation program — it’s one of the only ways cities, metro regions, and transit agencies can apply directly for federal funds, bypassing state DOTs. Plus, the emphasis on non-automotive modes and the availability of small grants make it a good fit for transit improvements and bike and pedestrian projects, which can’t access other federal pots of money so easily.

27 percent of the total funding is going to transit projects. That includes…

 

  • $25 million for the construction of Richmond’s 7.6-mile Broad Street Bus Rapid Transit, which U.S DOT says “will connect transit-dependent residents to jobs and retail centers as well as spur mixed use and transit-oriented development in a city with the highest poverty rate in Virginia.”
  • $15 million for an Omaha BRT line along a corridor where 16 percent of households have no access to a vehicle.
  • $13 million and $12 million for streetcars in Providence and Detroit, respectively. Read more

 

 

Driverless cars: Good for the planet?

Will Troppe | RMI Outlet

A Google driverless car navigates along a street in Mountain View, Calif. The way we get around could be significantly different in coming decades, and the environmental impacts of this new transportation economy will ultimately depend on several different factors.

A Google driverless car navigates along a street in Mountain View, Calif. The way we get around could be significantly different in coming decades, and the environmental impacts of this new transportation economy will ultimately depend on several different factors.

Driverless cars are almost certainly a part of our transportation future as companies like Google experiment with autonomous driving. Depending on how you look at it, impact of driverless cars on our energy use could either be incredibly good or incredibly bad, or somewhere in between.

Autonomous vehicles have captured people’s imaginations for decades. At the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, GM’s pivotal Futurama exhibit presented its vision for 1960s autonomous highway infrastructure to 30,000 visitors a day. Two decades later, during the construction of the interstate highway system (largely based on Futurama, sans vehicle autonomy), the Central Power and Light Company, an electric utility, employed the autonomous highway dream in a newspaper advertisement to demonstrate the vital role power companies could play in our driving future.

Now autonomous vehicles are no longer a utopian dream, capturing the attention of many, including some of my colleagues at RMI. Google recently made headlines by announcing it has started to manufacture its own autonomous car prototypes that lack steering wheels. Almost every major automaker is investing significant R&D capital in vehicle autonomy, including Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Volvo. It’d be a shorter list to note which companies aren’t working on autonomous vehicle technology.

Although fully autonomous cars aren’t yet commercially available, vehicles with autonomous features are already on the market. Self-parking features have been available since 2007. The 2014 Mercedes-Benz S-Class can drive itself on the highway—as long as the driver’s hands remain on the steering wheel, the car maintains its lane and accelerates and decelerates according to speed limits and the locations of surrounding vehicles. A San Francisco start-up, Cruise, manufactures a kit that allows Audi A4 and S4 owners to drive autonomously on the highway. These semi-autonomous cars will likely be the first stepping stones to fully automated driving. Nissan and Google both expect to market fully autonomous cars early next decade, and they’re not alone. Read more

 

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