Building “Better Blocks”

Here is a post on The Better Block, The Better Block Approach to Urban Planning, that compares the old hierarchical way of planning to a new way that engages the community in an empowering manner that informs citizens and grows their capacity. This organization is an example of a relational strategy that guides open networks to align their assets and innovate

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Moving DOTs to Innovation

Transportation planning is in need of an overhaul. The system that has evolved is unsustainable and  wasteful.  Traditional highway planning has played a key role in many undesirable and unintended consequences that have shaped many of the nation’s challenges for the 21st century. A potentially hopeful change is taking place with a partnership between Smart Growth America and the State Smart Transportation Inititative that has published a new handbook, The Innovative DOT..

Smart Growth America has partnered with the State Smart Transportation Initiative to develop The Innovative DOT, a resource for state transportation officials. This handbook provides 31 recommendations transportation officials can use as they position their agencies for success in the new economy. The handbook documents many of the innovative approaches state leaders are using to make systems more efficient, government more effective and constituents better satisfied.

The handbook contains 8 focus areas: Revenue Sources, Revenue Allocation and project selection, Pricing, Increasing Transportation System Efficiency, Improving Options for Mobility and Access, Providing Efficient Safe Freight Access,Iintegrating Transportation and Land Use Decision-Making, and Improving DOT Processes.

Growing Wealthier by reducing Vehicle Miles Traveled

Growing Wealthier – Smart Growth, Climate Change & Prosperity, by Chuck Kooshian and Steve Winkelman is a 2011 publication of the Center for Clean Air Policy (CCAP). Here is an excerpt from the introduction.

“Transportation is vital to the production and exchange of goods and services. But we think it isimportant to distinguish between more economically productive travel and what CCAP hasdubbed “empty miles” that contribute less to, or serve as a drag on, the economy. In fact, over the last few decades most Americans drove substantially more but did not shareproportionately in income growth – overall household VMT increased by 70% from 1969 to2001, but incomes for the bottom three quintiles (60%) of U.S. households onlyincreased 18%.”

Tearing Down the Syracuse Berlin Wall: Interstate 81

NPR aired a story on July 24, 2012 about sprawl and tearing down a destructive inner city elevated expressway, A City Faces Its ‘Berlin Wall’:An Interstate Highway. For those in Shreveport organizing to block an I-49 inner city expressway proposed by NLCOG this is a must here and read.The story is also shown in article form with pictures of the destructive roadway and people interivied in the story. One of the key points in gaining support for a tear down strategy is the long term cost of maintaining the elevated roadway and its needed replacement as it approaches end-of-life for the 1.4 miles of roadway.The current estimate for replacing the deck is $500 million or $357 million per mile. The current estimate used by NLCOG for 3.5 miles of elevated roadway is approximately $300 million. Based on the NPR story the “I-49 inner city connector” could cost considerably more than this optimistic projection.Here is an excerpt from the story:

A few years ago, Emanuel Carter, a professor at the State University of New York’s College of Environmental Science and Forestry, teamed up with a local citizens league on a study called “Rethinking I-81.” The main finding was that removing the I-81 viaduct would spur significant development.”We’re in full-blown sprawl mode right now,” Carter says. “And one of the ways we can kind of refocus on the core would be to have [I-81] cease to be an impediment.”

Here is the study “Rethinking I-81”. OCLRethinking I-81