Connecticut Department of Transportation pledges to enhance transportation center

James P. Redeker | Stamford Advocate

Photo by Jon EstradaIn recent weeks, much has been written about the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s plans for improvements at the Stamford Transportation Center, and, most frequently, about station parking. The department and designated developer, Stamford Manhattan Development Ventures, are close to an agreement to move forward with a new parking garage. We believe it is now timely to present clear, factual information that seems to sometimes get lost in the din.

We have been working with and listening to city officials, commuters and other citizens — all of whom have provided valuable input that has and will continue to help shape our plans.

Simply stated, here is our commitment to everyone:

  • Even during construction, there will never be fewer parking spaces than there are today.
  • The final project will have 273 more spaces than are currently available.
  • All parking will have direct access to station platforms.
  • The 2004 garage (with 1,200 spaces) will remain.
  • The old 1987 garage will be demolished and replaced by parking facilities, including commuter parking spaces, and transit-oriented development of commercial, retail, hotel and housing enhancements.
  • Traffic and taxi circulation will be improved.
  • Bicycle and pedestrian access will be enhanced, including a new pedestrian bridge.
  • State-of-the-art parking payment systems, eliminating cash-only payments.
  • A “way-finding” system to direct commuters to open parking spaces.
  • At least 10 electric vehicle charging stations.

For this project, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy appointed a committee consisting of members of the city’s administration, commuters and local business interests, to help ensure important, local input was received and acted upon. CTDOT created a website to host previously posted solicitation documents, frequently asked questions, and to solicit input by email. Read more

 

Gentrification comes to Denver

Photo by Jon EstradaJonathan Thompson | High Country News

Anyone who remembers the Denver, Colorado of the 1980s can’t help but be blown away by the changes that have occurred in the three decades since. Back then, East Colfax was notorious statewide for its seediness, and sociology professors sent students to lower downtown, now known as LoDo — in threes for safety — to see blight and homelessness first-hand.

Today, LoDo is one of the most happening neighborhoods in the nation, a place where historic buildings that avoided the post-World War II bulldozers stand cheek to jowl with gleaming new mid-rise apartment and office buildings. There’s an urban bustle here not felt since back in the glory days of the late 19th Century, Denver is one of the hottest destinations for young educated folks, and even East Colfax is hip, if in a shabby-chic sort of way. It’s pretty great, if you can afford to live there. Many people can’t.

Gentrification, for better and for worse, has arrived in this once-modest mining, cattle and energy boom-and-bust town. Property values and rents have increased faster than wages, putting the new downtown apartments and the existing housing stock out of reach of the working class. And that, Mayor Michael Hancock said on the radio show Colorado Matters, is threatening the city’s very identity. “The vibrancy of this city is to have a diversity of residents,” Hancock told Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner. “We don’t want to ever be known as a city of just those who have.” Read more

 

Can the Urban Dream Work in the Las Vegas Suburbs?

Brett Robillard with Greg Blake Miller | Vegas Seven

Photo by Jon Estrada

Photo by Jon Estrada

There’s a distinct difference between charisma and character. Character is earned, not instantaneously created. Charisma is charming, but often fleeting. Downtown Summerlin aims to blend both qualities with an ambitious plan to create a culturally vibrant center in an otherwise manicured HOA-driven sprawl.

Summerlin, and now Downtown Summerlin, certainly do not lack in vision. The Summerlin community at-large has always had a master plan; this latest offering is one of the last critical developments in completing that plan. But this completion could also be seen as a new beginning. It’s a testament to the rebounding Las Vegas economy and the tenacity of the developer and local residents. The steel frame of the project’s early, recession-stunted incarnation loomed over the western Valley for years, a lasting sign of the boom and bust of the millennium’s first decade. Today, the vibrant array of shops is a welcome change, not only for those who live in Summerlin, but for the entire Valley. It combines the convenience of freeway access, the scenic backdrop of Red Rock Canyon and an interesting attempt at urbanism to create what could be an energetic new “urb” in a neighborhood that has been the very portrait of a bedroom community. What’s left to argue about?

But if we’re wondering whether Downtown Summerlin shows the way forward for our erstwhile suburban areas, the natural question that arises is: Can you really build a Downtown from scratch? Or is the title of “downtown” by its very nature earned rather than simply proclaimed? Should the word be reserved for locales that have endured, persevered and in turn defined a local or regional culture? Does the new approach create simply an outdoor mall—“We’ve got your fresh urbanism right here; just add water!”—or something more significant, a worthwhile approach to city building in the age of the master developer? Read more

Transit oriented development is seen as the cure for the commute in Pennsylvania: but what makes it fail or succeed?

Irina Zhorov | NewsWorks

An undated photo of the Connecticut Telephone & Electric Corporation building on Britannia Street in Meriden. | Record-Journal ArchivesTrain stations, bus terminals, and other transportation hubs throughout Pennsylvania have varying degrees of development around them. Since the turn of the century urban planners in Pennsylvania cities, as well as other U.S. metropolises, have started to once again think and design for transit oriented development, with many transit projects incorporating larger development plans beyond basic infrastructure.

Transit oriented development is broadly defined as a station or transport hub surrounded by a dense, mixed use, walkable neighborhood. The idea is to cut down on peoples’ commuting time (and thus congestion, pollution and other societal byproducts of long commutes) and plan for future urban growth.

Transit oriented development can take many forms. For example, Jefferson station, formerly Market East Station, in Philadelphia doubles as a retail center and has integrated connections to other transit, but it sits apart from residential areas. In Pittsburgh’s East Liberty neighborhood, ongoing expansive development around bus routes deliberately includes residential units.  Many other stations around the state lack development altogether; they look like the kind of abandoned dark places your mother has told you repeatedly to stay away from. Why is there such a difference? Read more

Texas “Ideal Market” for High-Speed Rail

Gordon Dickson | Government Technology

An undated photo of the Connecticut Telephone & Electric Corporation building on Britannia Street in Meriden. | Record-Journal ArchivesThe nation’s top federal railroad official is giving the prospect of high-speed rail in Texas an enthusiastic thumbs-up, saying the region “appears to be an ideal market.”

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo visited Fort Worth and met with Mayor Betsy Price to discuss the possibility of bringing bullet trains capable of traveling 205 mph to Houston, Dallas, Arlington and Fort Worth.

The Dallas-to-Fort Worth connection is the subject of several public meetings, including one Tuesday evening in downtown Fort Worth, at which residents are being asked for their opinions on the proposed high-speed rail lines.

“It’s ridiculous. We need options to get us back and forth to work,” said Tammy Stancil of Hurst, who frequently rides Trinity Railway Express and was among about 50 people at Tuesday’s Fort Worth meeting. “We wouldn’t have all the hassles of driving a car.”

Other public meetings are scheduled for this morning in Arlington and Thursday afternoon in Dallas.

Officials from the Texas Department of Transportation and Federal Railroad Administration will also be at the meetings to answer questions about the futuristic proposal, which could reinvent the way Texans — who are among the most voracious users of automobiles and commercial airlines in the world — move about their state. Read more

 

‘Driving miles’ is best measure of new development in California

Curt Johansen | SF Chronicle

An undated photo of the Connecticut Telephone & Electric Corporation building on Britannia Street in Meriden. | Record-Journal ArchivesFor more than 40 years, California’s signature environmental law — the California Environmental Quality Act — has helped safeguard our natural lands and protect community health. Now it’s time to modernize some elements of the law to strengthen its effectiveness and make our communities even better places to live. Fortunately, the Brown administration is following through with some long-overdue fixes that deserve broad support.

Critics of CEQA have protested that the environmental review the law requires for major projects often adds unnecessary costs, time and uncertainty, while unfairly empowering project opponents. As representatives of nonprofit organizations committed to responsible, sustainable infill growth in our cities and downtowns, we see the continuing value of CEQA for giving the public a voice in project analysis, requiring more careful decision making, and encouraging project developers to mitigate avoidable impacts where feasible. Read more

 

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