10 ways to get to a more vibrant central Connecticut

Staff | CTfastrak

A new pedestrian bridge over nine railroad tracks will offer a shortcut between Sacramento City College and Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood. It will be built off-site, transported next to the tracks and installed via crane.MANNY CRISOSTOMO/MCRISOSTOMO@SACBEE.COMA vibrant community is a livable community. One that connects people to everything they need – jobs, housing, business opportunities and health care centers—making their lives better and easier. Beginning early 2015, central Connecticut will have exactly that. Introducing CTfastrak. CTfastrak is Connecticut’s first Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, providing state-of-the-art transit service on a bus-only, traffic-free roadway. This valuable system will do so much more than reduce congestion along I-84. It will become an economic engine that will drive central Connecticut to a more vibrant community.

1. Reduced transportation costs

Between high prices for gas, insurance and downtown parking, everyday driving can get expensive. On CTfastrak, riders can avoid these costs. A trip will cost the same regular low fare as CTTRANSIT buses—currently $1.50 local fare and distance-based $2.70 to $5.15 express fare. CTfastrak will save money in other ways too. With fewer cars on the road, there will be fewer emissions and less wear and tear. Which means less money spent cleaning up air and highways, and more money spent where people need it most.

2. Expanded regional access

Using CTfastrak, passengers will travel between New Britain and Hartford in 20 minutes. Express buses from Bristol, Waterbury, Cheshire and Southington will use the bus-only roadway to get downtown faster, while circulator and connector routes allow passengers to get to and from destinations within nearby communities. Working together to create a fast-paced network that connects communities and provides a variety of people with easy access to jobs, dining, shopping, health care, education and entertainment throughout the region, including:

- Major downtown employers, like Aetna, Travelers and many others

- Central Connecticut State University

- UConn Health Center

- Westfarms Mall

- St. Francis and Hartford Hospitals

- Buckland Hills area

- Bushnell Park

- XL Center

3. State-of-the-art transit

CTfastrak is more than an innovative solution to a complicated traffic congestion problem. The system incorporates many state-of-the-art technologies designed to provide an efficient, convenient, user-friendly and eco-friendly transportation alternative. Read more

Silicon Valley sprawls East: How tech jobs, housing and transit are shaping a megaregion

Lauren Hepler | Silicon Valley Business Journal\

As Silicon Valley sprawls out of the confines of the South Bay, business advocates and city planners in the East Bay's Tri-Valley region are angling to leverage transit, housing and sophisticated federal laboratories to grow the local tech industry. Here, a rendering of a proposed transit-oriented development area in Livermore, should the city win a controversial extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

As Silicon Valley sprawls out of the confines of the South Bay, business advocates and city planners in the East Bay’s Tri-Valley region are angling to leverage transit, housing and sophisticated federal laboratories to grow the local tech industry. Here, a rendering of a proposed transit-oriented development area in Livermore, should the city win a controversial extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).

On the outside, the SpinDx technology pioneered at Livermore’s Sandia National Laboratory looks like little more than a beige cube with a retro CD player on one end.

But the “lab-on-a-disk” tool developed with $4 million in federal funding has been hailed as a potential game changer in the detection of biological warfare agents, like anthrax, for its capability to manipulate and identify unknown substances.

Now, startups in the Tri-Valley area of the East Bay — a region immediately northeast of Silicon Valley, centered around the cities San Ramon, Danville, Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton — want to harness the technology’s healthcare potential to diagnose cancer or conduct in-home fertility testing.

The technology represents the crystallization of the type of public-private business development work that Tri-Valley officials and economic boosters want to use to foster a growing local tech industry.

In addition to research spun out of national research centers in the area like the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, they cite the region’s highly-educated workforce, strong base of corporate tenants, an emerging startup scene and increasing economic ties to Silicon Valley as variables working in their favor.

Though the Tri-Valley’s billion-dollar research tenants offer a potential leg up, the business push also comes as outlying regions from Santa Cruz to the San Joaquin Valley up to Davis also look to strengthen ties to Silicon Valley. It all adds fuel to demographers’ predictions that Northern California will likely look like a 24 million-resident “Megaregion” in just a few decades. Read more

 

Rail projects rise on the urgency meter for North Carolina’s Triangle Transit

Angela Cotey | Progressive Railroading

 

A new pedestrian bridge over nine railroad tracks will offer a shortcut between Sacramento City College and Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood. It will be built off-site, transported next to the tracks and installed via crane.MANNY CRISOSTOMO/MCRISOSTOMO@SACBEE.COMTriangle Transit is advancing plans to build a light-rail line that will connect Chapel Hill and East Durham, N.C. The 17-mile Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit Project would include stops at the University of North Carolina, its hospitals, residential and business districts, Duke University and Duke Medical Center, downtown Durham and North Carolina Central University.

The light-rail project is one component of a regional transportation plan Triangle Transit has developed to address the growing population in Chapel Hill, Raleigh, Cary and Durham. The region has grown dramatically in recent years and currently is home to about 1.4 million people. That number is expected to double in 25 years, says TTA General Manager David King.

“There is something about knowing that literally hundreds of thousands of people are coming to your region that tends to focus the mind,” he says.

That’s why, when King joined the agency in 2006 after a 33-year stint at the North Carolina Department of Transportation, he revisited a transit-expansion plan that had been shelved earlier that year. In the early 2000s, Triangle Transit officials were discussing a 27-mile Durham-to-Raleigh regional rail line, over which diesel multiple units would operate along the state-owned North Carolina Railroad Co.’s right of way. The line would serve Research Triangle Park, Cary and North Carolina State University. But as the project worked its way through the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) New Starts process, Triangle Transit officials realized it wouldn’t be approved for the federal program. Ridership estimates weren’t as strong as other proposed systems in the United States and the agency did not yet have a local funding match secured. Execs withdrew the agency’s application. Read more

Sacramento to install Curtis Park pedestrian bridge via airlift

Tony Bizjak | The Sacramento Bee

A new pedestrian bridge over nine railroad tracks will offer a shortcut between Sacramento City College and Sacramento’s Curtis Park neighborhood. It will be built off-site, transported next to the tracks and installed via crane.MANNY CRISOSTOMO/MCRISOSTOMO@SACBEE.COM

MANNY CRISOSTOMO

How do you build a bridge over nine rows of railroad tracks where trains are rolling through day and night? That is the puzzle the city of Sacramento faced as it contemplated construction, possibly starting this winter, of a $6 million pedestrian and bike bridge over the Union Pacific and Sacramento Regional Transit tracks in Curtis Park.

The arched steel bridge will allow students, commuters and others a shortcut between Sacramento City College and the Curtis Park neighborhood, including the Curtis Park Village development now under construction in the former railyard just east of the tracks. The answer, following several rounds of discussions among the city, UP and RT, is simple but will involve aerial acrobatics.

The city’s bridge contractor will build the 174-foot span at an off-site plant and transport it in several pieces to the site, where it will be assembled next to the tracks, then lifted by a crane and gingerly set onto its foundations.

“That will be a sight to see, the weekend we do that,” city project manager Ofelia Avalos said. “It’s going to be very challenging. There is a risk factor, but we decided this is the best way to build that thing.” Construction and installation will take place over about 13 months, Avalos said. The end result will be an arched bridge that evokes the railyard’s history. Read more

 

Rail~Volution Recap: The Power of Millennials and Transit Planning in the Twin Cities

Brian Martucci and Kyle Mianulli | The Line Media

PHOTO BY KYLE MIANULL

PHOTO BY KYLE MIANULL

Minneapolis put its best foot forward for the 20th annual Rail~Volution conference, held September 21-24 at the Hyatt on Nicollet Mall. Drawing more than 600 of the nation’s top transit planners and policy-makers, the conference highlighted transit-oriented development, sustainable design and exciting technological innovations happening from coast to coast.

The focus, naturally, was on the Twin Cities, where “the region’s 3.2 million people create a vibrant society,” according to Rail~Volution’s website, using “integrated systems and connections to light rail, commuter rail and bus rapid transit; an expansive bus system; and the…Nice Ride bike share program” to get around. That’s high praise for a conference that began in transit-crazy Portland, Oregon.

Though Rail~Volution spoke to transit users of all ages, this year’s message was clear: Despite Millennials’ propensity for tweeting, selfies and Instagrams of food, not to mention short attention spans, the 14-34 age demographic is reshaping the way cities are built. Read more

MARTA ramps up its transit oriented development program at the right time

Andrew Tate | Atlanta Business Chronicle

MARTA's new pedestrian bridge in Buckhead. Two apartment towers and an office building are under construction around the station.

MARTA’s new pedestrian bridge in Buckhead. Two apartment towers and an office building are under construction around the station.

MARTA’s latest announcement of its intent to allow developers to build “vibrant, mixed-use Transit Oriented Development” above the North Avenue, Midtown, Arts Center, and Lenox stations feels exhaustingly overdue.

Thanks to MARTA’s leadership and concentrated efforts by a handful of smart growth organizations over the past three years, the ball is finally teed up for transit-oriented development (TOD) along the Peachtree Corridor. The decision to consider 99-year ground leases with developers—or possibly the air rights in fee simple—while bafflingly late in their legacy as owners is a savvy business move.

It’s also arguably made at precisely the right time.

Atlanta’s intown submarkets continue to mirror urbanization trends across the county as creative class tenants (and a few owners) are drawn to walkability, proximity to work, and cultural density. Midtown and Buckhead are the strongest submarkets in metro Atlanta, with multifamily continuing to outperform every sector.

Midtown’s apartment rent growth is a 7 percent — 40 basis points higher than the Atlanta market average, according to a report by Reis, Inc. Looking at these numbers—combined with recent decisions by several companies to relocate intown—perhaps it is best that MARTA has waited until now. Among MARTA’s stated goals are to reinforce the stations as “regional destinations which are highly desirable places to live, work and/or play,” to increase ridership by promoting increased pedestrian activity between the developments and the stations, and to generate revenue. Read more

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