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May 2014

Area agencies urge commuters to “Dump the Pump” and try transit

North Texas commuters can save money on gasoline prices just by riding public transit, representatives from three area transit agencies said Wednesday.

Dallas Area Rapid Transit (DART), The T in Fort Worth, and the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) are working to spread that message in June during the ninth annual national Dump the Pump campaign.

The three agencies encourage commuters to try public transit the week of June 16-20 and on National Dump the Pump Day, Thursday, June 19. The slogan of this year’s campaign is “Dump the Pump.  Save Money.  Ride Transit.” Read more

Indiana South Shore could boost economy, communities

Keith Benman | NWI Times

MERRILLVILLE | Railroad and development officials Wednesday rolled out a blueprint for a South Shore commuter rail extension to Dyer and big improvements on the existing line.

The South Shore 20-year Strategic Business Plan calls for $1.16 billion total in new projects, such as station upgrades, reroutes, new double tracks and an 8-mile extension to Dyer.

If brought to fruition, it would be the largest set of projects implemented on the line in at least 90 years.

“We believe you just shouldn’t show bits and pieces of the pie and ask people to step up with their support,” said Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority CEO Bill Hanna. “You should present the whole picture.” Read more

Homeless youth and public space: Is there a design for that?

Knute Berger | Crosscut.com

The coming boom spurred by a new Sound Transit light rail station and a possible rezone of the University District for transit-oriented development poses some interesting challenges. Here’s one: With density and possible gentrification in the offing, can inclusive public spaces such as parks and plazas be part of the plans? Or will efforts to include public space be derailed by the mad desire for density and worries about abetting the District’s homeless youth population?

One much-discussed concept to add open space is the U District Square proposal. A group of architects and university residents wants to close off Brooklyn Ave. at the new light rail station and turn it into a public plaza. Their concept drawings show a two-block stretch alongside University Tower (and between 45th NE and 43rd NE) that would be closed to most traffic and host a variety of community-building activities, including the neighborhood’s farmer’s market. The space would feature trees, benches and an area for outdoor concerts or films. Some of the plaza would be taken up by the large entrances to the underground station, but the plan’s proponents say these surface eyesores could be incorporated into their concept. Read more

All Aboard Florida to reveal Miami development plan

By Kim Miller | The Palm Beach Post

All Aboard Florida is scheduled to reveal its downtown Miami development plan today, which is expected to bring in $59.5 million in transit oriented development economic impacts beginning in 2019 to Miami-Dade County.

A spokesperson for the express passenger service that will travel from Miami to Orlando said this morning a similar plan will be revealed for downtown West Palm Beach in the near future. Read more

Tappan Zee Bridge bus plan won’t work, grad students say

Theresa Juva-Brown | lohud.com

The state’s plan for a robust bus system around the Tappan Zee Bridge won’t reduce congestion in the next five years and fails to address the difficulty of getting people out of their cars, a group of Columbia University urban planning graduate students says ina new report.

“There is no one solution that will solve congestion on the corridor. You have to look at a combination of approaches,” said student David Perlmutter. “You have to look at a transit in a holistic way. You can’t plop a line down and expect the region to be transformed.” Read more

Transit experts unveil recommendations for Pittsburgh

Molly Born | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A panel of experts told transit officials and the public Friday that the future of transportation in Pittsburgh must focus on customer service, advancements in technology and, if Port Authority can swing it, really cool bus shelters.

The group commissioned by the Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit Urban Land Institute presented these and several other recommendations during a presentation at the Omni William Penn Hotel, Downtown. The findings were based on nearly 80 interviews with public officials, neighborhood leaders and others. It also included tours of the bus and rail systems. Read more

Why the Senate Transportation Bill Will Devastate Transit

Tanya Snyder | StreetsBlog USA

Transit officials lined up today to make clear that holding transit spending at current levels — as the Senate’s transportation authorization bill does — will put transit systems at risk of falling further into dangerous disrepair.

The backlog for transit maintenance and replacement stands “conservatively” at $86 billion, according to the Federal Transit Administration. That backlog is expected to keep growing at a rate of $2.5 billion each year without a significant infusion of funds.

To put it another way, the country needs to spend $2.5 billion more per year – from federal, state and local sources – just to keep the state of the nation’s transit systems from getting even worse. Read more

Minneapolis mulling extra $3.5 million for Nicollet Mall project

Eric Roper | Star Tribune

After receiving just below what they sought at the Legislature to renovate Nicollet Mall, city leaders are mulling whether to contribute $3.5 million to the project in order to leverage promised private dollars.

The overhaul of Minneapolis’ signature street is expected to cost $50 million. The Downtown Council has said it is prepared to match up to $25 million, but the Legislature awarded the project $21.5 million in the final bonding bill.

“Since we got something less than $25 [million], we’re talking now about what we might do so as not to leave money on the table, if you will,” said David Frank, the city’s director of transit-oriented development. Read more

High-speed rail to give passing bump to Florida economy

Dave Berman | FloridaToday.com

The company seeking to start high-speed passenger rail service between Orlando and Miami claims its project of adding and upgrading rail lines would generate a significant short-term boost in terms of jobs and economic impact in Brevard County.

Long-term, though, the impact would be minimal because All Aboard Florida’s trains would pass through Brevard, but not stop here.

During the next two years, as new track is built between Orlando and Cocoa, the study consultants estimated it would generate 704 direct and 740 spinoff jobs within Brevard.

All Aboard Florida on Wednesday released an economic impact study that found that those jobs would have a payroll of $80.9 million a year. Read more

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