Why Portland Is Building a Multi-Modal Bridge That Bans Cars

Brian Libby | The Atlantic CityLab

A rendering of the Tilikum Crossing, designed by San Francisco's Donald McDonald. (HNTB)

A rendering of the Tilikum Crossing, designed by San Francisco’s Donald McDonald. (HNTB)

 

It’s an early-summer morning at the construction site for Portland’s first new bridge in a generation, the Tilikum Crossing, and Dan Blocher is feeling good about its progress. Completion is still a year away, but since the two ends of the bridge were connected in the middle several weeks ago, public response in self-described Bridgetown (when it’s not, say, the Rose City, Stumptown or Rip City) has been positive.

“Most people can sort of viscerally recognize an inherent beauty when the bridge is properly designed for its need,” says Blocher, executive director of capitol projects for TriMet, the city’s transit agency. “I think you know when you’ve got it right when the completed product just seems to fit, just like it belongs there. And we feel very good about the feedback we’re getting on this bridge now that you can see what it’s going to look like.”

As we stand along the banks of the Willamette River, where workers are toiling both above us on the recently completed deck and below in small boats where the footings meet the water, Blocher points to a number of the bridge’s unique design features. The H-shaped towers are smaller than those of most cable-stay bridges, for example. That’s because Tilikum threads single cables up through the towers and down again to the deck, rather than using two sets of cables connected separately to the tower. The bike and pedestrian paths on either side also jut out in the middle, he says, to reduce wind drag. The angle of the white cables is meant to recall the triangular form of Mount Hood, standing tall in the distance and visible from the bridge. Read more

$11 Billion Later, High-Speed Rail Is Inching Along

Ron Nixon | The New York Times

Amtrak’s Acela near Baltimore. The 150-mile-per-hour Acela averages only 80 m.p.h. on the New York to Washington corridor. Credit Luke Sharrett for The New York TimesHigh-speed rail was supposed to be President Obama’s signature transportation project, but despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009 to develop faster passenger trains, the projects have gone mostly nowhere and the United States still lags far behind Europe and China.

While Republican opposition and community protests have slowed the projects here, transportation policy experts and members of both parties also place blame for the failures on missteps by the Obama administration — which in July asked Congress for nearly $10 billion more for high-speed initiatives.

Instead of putting the $11 billion directly into those projects, critics say, the administration made the mistake of parceling out the money to upgrade existing Amtrak service, which will allow trains to go no faster than 110 miles per hour. None of the money originally went to service in the Northeast Corridor, the most likely place for high-speed rail. Read more

Braving the New World of Performance-Based Zoning

Anthony Flint | Atlantic CityLab

A small park just off of Main St. in Farmingdale features a gazebo where events are held is seen on August 7, 2014. (Credit: Johnny Milano)Today’s topic is zoning. But before you reach for that double espresso, consider that there is really some exciting stuff going on in the field, fueled by Silicon Valley-level innovative thinking.

Most people might think of zoning as the province of white-haired volunteer boards, but in an increasingly developed world, it has a larger importance. Codes that guide development are the DNA of human settlement.

The problem is that most zoning hasn’t changed with the times, for nearly a century now. It’s like having traffic rules and manufacturer regulations based on the Model T.

A short history: The landmark 1926 Supreme Court case Euclid v. Ambler Realty confirmed the authority of local governments to lay down the law on building—literally. Zoning, in legal terms, is considered part of police powers, enforcing health and safety. A hundred years ago, cities were increasingly congested and dirty places, and planners sought to spread things out and separate noxious uses; a tannery shouldn’t be next to a townhouse, and so on. Read more

Farmingdale Village plans to be Long Island’s new downtown destination

Lisa Doll Bruno | Newsday

A small park just off of Main St. in Farmingdale features a gazebo where events are held is seen on August 7, 2014. (Credit: Johnny Milano)With a master plan in place, Farmingdale Village is positioning itself as Long Island’s next destination downtown, says Mayor Ralph Ekstrand.

“We have a lot of stuff going on,” says Ekstrand, citing revitalization projects and events such as an upcoming two-day music festival on the Village Green.

The mixed-use, “transit-oriented” development near the train station will comprise two buildings with a combined total of 154 apartments, amenities and 20,000 square feet of retail space. “We have commitments on retail,” says developer Anthony Bartone of Bartone Properties. One building is to open in November, the other with an underground garage next spring.

Other projects include the reconstruction of 231 Main St., where Staller Associates is building 26 luxury apartments and 3,000 square feet of retail space. “What’s really cool,” says Ekstrand, is the building “will have balconies overlooking Main Street.” Read more

Charlotte needs better sustainability – Report offers suggestions for city’s livability

Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business JournalCharlotte needs to cut back on its carbon footprint in order to remain livable, according to a new report.

The study, published last week by Sustain Charlotte, found that air quality and energy use exceed national averages as sprawl continues its march across the region. Local and county public officials joined Sustain Charlotte Executive Director Shannon Binns at a press conference to announce the release of the inaugural “Charlotte-Mecklenburg Sustainability Report Card: Scoring Our Economic, Environmental, and Social Health.” The report card is an independently researched and written assessment of the region’s health using 57 metrics spanning nine issues.

Using years of data from multiple sources, the authors generated a report card for each issue and provided 94 recommendations for how Charlotte-Mecklenburg can accelerate progress. The nine issues assessed include: Air Quality, Energy Use, Equity + Empowerment, Food, Jobs + Income, Land Use, Transportation, Waste, and Water Use.

“We’ve taken an objective, quantitative approach to assessing our progress on the issues that affect the quality of life for today’s residents as well as those who come after us,” Binns said. “We hope our leaders as well as all residents who call Mecklenburg home will take our recommendations to heart, and make the choices we must make to ensure a vibrant future.”

“Through this report, Sustain Charlotte has held up a mirror for us to reflect on where we are making progress and where we are not. This is a vital contribution as it helps us know what we need to focus on, and I am committed to taking the necessary steps to put our community on a sustainable path,” said Mecklenburg County Commissioner Pat Cotham. Read more

Phoenix Light Rail Beats Projections, and the Mayor Wants More

Angie Schmitt | StreetsBlog USA

Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business JournalCan Phoenix become a transit city? It’s looking like more and more of a possibility lately.

Phoenix’s Metro light rail system is less than six years old but has already surpassed ridership projections for 2020. The system is carrying 48,000 passengers a day, or 22,000 more than initially projected, according to the Arizona Republic. Extensions of the system, which currently has 20 miles of track and 28 stations, are already underway and eagerly anticipated in Phoenix and the suburb of Mesa.

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton isn’t about to stop there. He wants to triple the size of the system by 2030. Business and civic leaders will convene soon to develop an expansion plan to bring to voters next year. The team will be headed by Mary Peters, U.S. transportation secretary under President George W. Bush, the Republic reports. Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.