Transportation News Roundup

Plenty of news in transportation-land…

Transit

  • More Americans are getting on the bus.  According to study released November 24, the basic economic efficiencies of bus travel are proving to be extremely attractive in this difficult economic climate.  Inter-city bus service jumped 9.8 percent between the fourth quarters of 2007 and 2008, the highest growth rate in more than 40 years.  The increase is having a positive impact on the environment.  Over the past year, bus route growth has reduced carbon emissions by an estimated 36,000 tons and saved 3.48 million gallons of fuel.
  • Fridley’s plans for Northstar station are on fast track.  The Northstar rail line is expected to begin running in November 2009 and designers are hurrying to finish plans for the Fridley station, the last and most expensive station to be built.  The station was a late addition because funding was not secured until late October when the Counties Transit Improvement Board awarded the $9.9 million needed to finance the project.  The Fridley station will be the only one of six stops on the line to have a pedestrian tunnel under the tracks and three elevators that will carry passengers to the platform.  The 400-foot-long platform will have three glass-enclosed heated shelters.
  • Americans drive less, creating a problem.  Americans responded to sky-rocketing gas prices this year by driving less and purchasing more fuel efficient cars.  Vehicle miles traveled have dropped for 11 straight months and gasoline consumption has fallen compared to a year earlier.  Policymakers are encouraged by Americans’ conservation efforts but worried about the effect on infrastructure funding.  The U.S. Department of Transportation last week said that gasoline taxes paid into the highway trust fund fell by $3 billion in the 2008 fiscal year, prompting Transportation Secretary Mary Peters to call on policymakers to develop a new way to raise revenue for the fund in order to support critical infrastructure projects

Bicycling and Walking

  • Proposed amendment seeks to increase bicycling parking.  This month, the Minneapolis City Council proposed an amendment to parking regulations that would allow future developments to provide fewer off-street parking spaces and require all newly established businesses to provide parking for at least three bicycles.  The changes stem from the Minneapolis Plan for Sustainable Growth, which seeks to promote transit, walking, and bicycling as transportation through reduced parking requirements.  Minneapolis Planning Supervisor Jason Wittenberg says having more places to park bicycles will promote cycling as a form of transportation and reduce carbon emissions.
  •  Bicycling basics.  Check out this cool series of videos!  They include demonstrations showing how to use the bicycle racks on Metro Transit buses, how to change a flat tire, and what kinds of wear and tear you should look out for as you ride.
  • Jan Gehl promotes “pedestrianization”.  Danish architect Jan Gehl is the chief proponent and visionary for a global movement known as “pedestrianization” which seeks to make car-obsessed cities more walkable and bicycle-friendly.  Gehl’s work has inspired cities across Europe to turn their streets into havens for pedestrians and bicyclists.  He now wants to bring his vision to North American cities in hopes of transforming more urban communities.

Development

  • Four suburbs are betting big on light rail.  St. Louis Park, Hopkins, Minnetonka, and Eden Prarie expect the Southwest LRT line to improve quality of life by making their communities more livable, walkable, and great places to live into the future.  Communities are excited about the benefits the rail line will offer such as enabling people to be less dependent on cars, redevelopment, and employment opportunities.
  • St. Paul’s North End aims to increase transit accessibility.  North End residents gathered for a town hall meeting on November 13 to discuss the importance of planning for future opportunities for growth in the community as transit changes play out.  Attendees raised concerns about poor accessibility and a general lack of service.   Ramsey County Commissioner Janice Rettman says plans calling for a Central Corridor light rail station to be located at Rice and University will greatly improve the North End’s current transit accessibility.  Metro Transit’s John Levin claims that if Saint Paul expects to receive funding at a level comparable to Minneapolis and its suburbs, Downtown Saint Paul needs to grow and increase the number of employees and decrease the availability of cheap parking.
  • Invest now in Minneapolis-Duluth rail project, a 21st century solution.  According to a recent poll by Minnesota 2020, 72 percent of respondents agreed that the state should be exploring more ways to promote and expand regional rail services as a means of affordable and efficient transportation.  If constructed, the proposed rail line from Minneapolis to Duluth will further bolster booming public support for new transit projects.  It’s no surprise that on this past Election Day, more than 70 percent of transit investments on ballots across the country were passed.  Americans want a 21st century transportation system and a Minneapolis-Duluth rail line will set a progressive example while creating jobs, easing congestion, and reducing carbon emissions.
  • Oberstar readying huge job creation plan for infrastructure.  House Transportation Committee chairman Jim Oberstar has helped ready legislation to make $45 billion available to states for infrastructure projects.  The Congressman says Minnesota has $218 million in road and bridge projects ready to go, which would create 7,000 jobs.  President-elect Obama has repeatedly voiced support for a stimulus package to rebuild our roads and bridges in order to create a 21st century clean energy infrastructure.  If Congress does not pass a new stimulus bill before inauguration day, it is likely that many infrastructure projects around the nation will receive funding after Obama takes office.

Full Digest

Transit and Roads

Bicycling and Walking
•   A step in the right direction (Globe and Mail)
•   Walking, that’s what we do! (Twin Cities Streets for People)
•   Free winter bicycling classes in December (Twin Cities Daily Planet)
•   Minneapolis may require new businesses to provide bicycling parking (MN Daily)
•   An ode to a bicycle in the summertime (Twin Cities Daily Planet)
•   A resolution for 2009: Around the world in an electric bike (Tree Hugger)
•   Dan Burden: Building livable, walkable communities (Twin Cities Streets for People)
•   Our favorite girls on bikes (Tree Hugger)

Development
•   Four suburbs are betting big on light rail (Star Tribune)
•   Biden makes the case for rail (Yglesias)
•   Finally a green light for smart infrastructure? (Citiwire)
•   Will the Central Corridor really change University Avenue? (Twin Cities Streets for People)
•   A house of god, a home for people (Star Tribune)
•   University Ave businesses seek help to mitigate disruption during LRT construction (Capitol Report)
•   Oberstar readying huge job creation plan for infrastructure (Duluth News Tribune)
•   Let President-elect Obama and Congress hear what you think about transportation (Twin Cities Streets for People)
•   Invest now in Minneapolis-Duluth rail project, a 21st century solution (Minn Post)
•   New Deal 2009? Three plans to rescue the economy and the earth with public transportation (Tree Hugger)
•   Tell the highway lobby about ’09 transportation spending (StreetsBlog)
•   Investing in Minnesota (Minnesota 2020)
•   Connect the dots: For stronger cities, build better connections (Grist)
•   For new Transportation Secretary, a hard road ahead (Washington Post)
•   Smart economic stimulation (Planetizen)
•   City is looking into new parking meter technologies (Minnesota Daily)
•   Central Corridor update (Twin Cities Daily Planet)
•   Public
transit in St. Paul’s north end: It’s all about the funding
(Twin Cities Daily Planet)
•   Where the sidewalk ends (Twin Cities Streets for People)
•   San Francisco weighs congestion pricing options (Planetizen)

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