Residents excited for CTfastrak busway to open

Erica Schmitt | Newington Town Crier

 

The McLean station of Metro's Silver Line on June 23 in McLean, Virginia.If the turnout at the town’s CTfastrak open house Monday night was any indication, Newington residents are anxious for the busway to open this coming March.

The state Department of Transportation is hosting 10 different open houses at locations across central Connecticut this month through January.

People flooded Newington High School for Monday’s event to learn more about bus routes and planning specific trips.

“It’s a really good crowd tonight; it seems like there’s a lot of interest,” said Sara Radasci, a DOT transportation planner.

“I think people are just trying to figure out which route goes where,” added Radasci, who spent the evening passing out pamphlets outlining each route and its scheduled stop times by day of the week.

The CTfastrak webpage, CTfastrak.com, will soon feature a trip planner for people to use. They will be able to search for the best route by their desired starting and ending locations.

“I work part-time for the Salvation Army on the Berlin Turnpike, and we’re looking to get a bus stop there,” said Gary Bolles, a town resident who attended Monday’s event. Read more

Public Transportation and the Path Dependency of Virginia Highway Investments

Kevin DeGood | Center for American Progress

The McLean station of Metro's Silver Line on June 23 in McLean, Virginia.

The McLean station of Metro’s Silver Line on June 23 in McLean, Virginia.

Major public transportation investments can be transformative—reshaping communities, spurring economic development, and improving mobility. The new Metro Silver Line in Northern Virginia, which is an extension of the existing Washington, D.C., subway system, represents a major investment that will reshape the region for decades to come. Yet, the evolution from initial operations to a completed system that fully delivers on promised benefits takes many years and is not guaranteed.

Prior transportation investments and land-use decisions create a path dependency that often limits future change. Realizing the full potential of transit investments therefore requires a sustained political commitment to support development projects that increase ridership and offer an alternative to driving for all mobility needs.

When elected officials advocate for major transportation investments, they often promote a vision of a fully built-out rail system and communities that have grown and matured around each station. After all, accommodating future population growth and reducing roadway travel demand are important reasons for building these big projects. However, new rail lines don’t exist in a vacuum. Instead, they must operate within the existing built environment that was designed with the exclusive goal of moving cars at high speeds. And the challenges don’t stop with prior roadway investments. Read more

 

Seattle invests $22 million in affordable housing

Jason Kelly | Washington RealEstateRama

The $24 million fund will be used to finance property acquisition and pre-development loans for developers creating and preserving affordable homes along transit corridors such as RTD's West Rail Line from downtown Denver to Golden.Today Mayor Ed Murray announced $22 million for the development and preservation of affordable housing in Seattle. The long-term loans through the Office of Housing will support the City’s priorities of reducing homelessness, supporting transit-oriented development and providing options for families of all incomes to live in Seattle.

“Through our partnerships with the non-profit community, we are building a better reality for hundreds of families and individuals,” said Murray. “Today we’re taking another step to reduce homelessness that is a biting reality on our sidewalks and we’re making families’ dreams of affordable homes come true.”

The $22 million announced today will be loaned to housing developers to build and preserve rent- and income-restricted apartments affordable to our city’s low-income residents:

- Mercy Othello Plaza: Mercy Housing’s project at the Othello light rail station will house 108 low-income families in a mix of units, including 62 two and three bedroom apartments. ($8.5 million in City funding) Read more

Fund for affordable housing in transit-oriented developments to expand beyond Denver

Molly Armbrister | Denver Business Journal

The $24 million fund will be used to finance property acquisition and pre-development loans for developers creating and preserving affordable homes along transit corridors such as RTD's West Rail Line from downtown Denver to Golden.Denver Mayor Michael Hancock and other dignitaries gathered Tuesday to launch an expansion of the Denver Transit-Oriented Development Fund for affordable homes, a $24 million endeavor.

The fund, which was created to operate within the city of Denver, will expand to include the seven-county metro area.

The $24 million fund will be used to finance property acquisition and pre-development loans for developers creating and preserving affordable homes along transit corridors in Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas and Jefferson counties.

Enterprise Community Partners Inc. and Enterprise Community Loan Fund Inc. announced the expansion Tuesday, with Hancock on hand. Enterprise is an affordable-housing advocate headquartered in Columbia, Maryland, with an office in Denver that led the effort to expand the fund.

“Both the geographic and capital expansion of the Denver TOD Fund will enable us to better create opportunity for Denver metro area residents as we connect affordable homes to transit, jobs, good schools, and health care,” said Lori Chatman, president of Enterprise Community Loan Fund. Read more

MARTA making progress on projects big and small

Dan Whisenhunt | decaturish.com

MARTA CEO Keith Parker shows off a state of the art bathroom system at the Lindbergh Center Station.                                  Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

MARTA CEO Keith Parker shows off a state of the art bathroom system at the Lindbergh Center Station. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

The basic things have held MARTA back for years.

Trains haven’t run on time. Funding for the transit system has been hamstrung by a rule that dictated where MARTA could spend the sales tax money it receives from the city of Atlanta, and Fulton and DeKalb counties. MARTA  raised fares while cutting services. Also, the agency had removed 2/3 of station bathrooms within five years.

Anyone who has ventured into a urine soaked MARTA elevator could tell you that.

But after several years of MARTA’s numbers moving in the wrong direction, the agency is getting its act together under the leadership of CEO Keith Parker. Trains are running more frequently on the weekdays. The archaic funding restrictions requiring the agency to devote 50 percent of its money to operations and 50 percent to infrastructure have been suspended. Clayton County voters overwhelmingly voted to allow MARTA to expand its services there, the first time the system has moved into a new county since the 1970’s.

And riders will start seeing more bathrooms.

Parker, who took over in December 2012, on Dec. 11 showed off one of MARTA’s new state of the art restrooms at the Lindbergh Center Station. Read more

Boston Banks $1.35M to Support a Housing Innovation Lab

Nick DeLuca | BostInno

Image via Creative Commons/ amy gizienski (CC BY 2.0)

Image via Creative Commons/ amy gizienski (CC BY 2.0)

Mayor Marty Walsh announced Monday that Boston is one of 12 U.S. cities awarded a grant for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Innovation Teams program. The $1.35 million will be dispersed over a three year period and be used to support a Housing Innovation Lab as part of the mayor’s sweeping Boston 2030 housing strategy.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that everyone who wants to help make Boston a better place can afford to live here,” said Mayor Walsh in a statement. “Potential partners surround us, from local architects to world-leading colleges and universities. The Housing Innovation Lab will help us strengthen these partnerships and create new ones to help us solve Boston’s housing challenges.”

News of the grant comes less than a week after Walsh addressed the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, in which he made note of his plan to implement transit-oriented workforce housing along the Red and Orange Lines. Approximately 20,000 housing units of the overall goal of 53,000 could come from these two “growth zones.” Read more

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