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Today’s Headlines

  • Hit-and-Run Death of 3-Yr Old Boy Begs Vision Zero Street & Intersection Improvements (KXAN)
  • Is Transit-Oriented Development Key to More Riders on Metro Green & Purple Lines? (Chron)
  • Republican Challenger Who Opposed Grand Porkway Toll Bridge Defeats Rep. Smith in Primary (Breitbart)
  • How Third Ward Plans to Manage Gentrification (UrbanEdge)
  • TxDOT Says No Safety Measures Needed Near Site of Fatal Crash That Killed DART Driver (DNews)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

Streetsblog USA

Clinton Pledges to Make a Big Infrastructure Push in Her First 100 Days

The industry groups behind last week’s “Infrastructure Week” campaign got exciting news today when presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton announced she’s going to make a big $275 billion “infrastructure” push in her first 100 days.

An anonymous Clinton aide told the Washington Post:

This proposal would represent the most significant increase in infrastructure investment since President Eisenhower built the Interstate Highway System.

Streetsblog took a look at Clinton’s infrastructure proposal when she introduced it in December, and there wasn’t much more to it than a large dollar figure. Her proposal calls for spending $275 billion on top of the $300 billion for surface transportation already on the books for the next five years. It doesn’t, however, call for raising the gas tax, a mileage fee, or even the barrel of oil tax recently proposed by President Obama.

Instead, Clinton ‘s proposal envisions additional funding from a vague “business tax reform.” Whatever that turns out to mean in practice, it sounds a lot like the funding gimmicks that Washington has increasingly come to rely on to subsidize roads.

On the bright side, Clinton did call for more investment in transit, biking, and walking; for more accountability for state DOTs; and for greater use of “merit-based” project selection, rather than just shoveling money at states to pour into expensive highway projects, no questions asked.

Overall, Clinton’s infrastructure plan falls short compared to what Obama called for in his final budget proposal. That Obama blueprint would substantially raise transit funding without increasing the allocation for highways. It would have been a real policy shift, rather than the “more of everything” approach Clinton seems to favor. Congress, however, would not even dignify the Obama proposal with a formal hearing.

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Today’s Headlines

  • Austin Tech Leaders Launching RideAustin Nonprofit Ride-Hailing Service (Chronicle)
  • City of Dallas Wants to Build a Deck Park Over I-35E Near the Zoo (Morning News)
  • San Antonio Understands That Unincorporated Sprawl Imposes High Costs on City (Rivard)
  • City Not Responding to Missions Neighbors’ Desire to Restrict More Neighbors Near Missions (Rivard)
  • Guy in Roller Skates and Jorts Wins Houston’s Sunday Streets (Houston Chron)
  • Texas Central Ready to Start Acquiring ROW for Houston-Dallas High Speed Rail (Dallas Observer)
  • Lower Westheimer Corridor Study Could Be First Flexing of Turner’s New “Paradigm” Muscles

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via Street Smart

Parking vs. People

I like to mash up city data.  Sometimes it can be extremely revealing.  Sometimes it is worthless, but even then, it helps clarify what factors are or are not interdependent and interrelated when it comes to cities.  These efforts are necessary for dispelling incorrect conventional wisdom of cities.  Such as parking.  As I’ll get to.

City Observatory's Storefront Map of Dallas

City Observatory’s Storefront Map of Dallas, largely corridor driven rather than district driven.

There is no shortage of lists, rankings, and research of various data points for cities.  I find these helpful, but are generally better when you start combining some of these data points to tell a bigger, more complex story. For example, City Observatory created the Storefront Index, which is a map and ranking of the density of storefront businesses. This seems like a simple, straight-forward data set, but within it is couched much more revealing information:  what does it take for storefront businesses to be there in the first place?  That usually says something about street networks and population density.  Storefronts are a proxy for the more complex, emergent behavior and nature of cities.  This study is a snapshot in time of the four-dimensional nature of cities.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • For Now, Feds Pull Unused Funds for Light Rail on Richmond (Swamplot)
  • Janette Sadik-Khan’s Advice on How Houston Can Take Back Its Streets (Chron)
  • Japanese Operator for Dallas-Houston Bullet Train Opens Dallas Office (DNews)
  • 4 of 7 Family Members Killed in High-Speed Crash Near Carthage (WKYT)
  • Speeding Hit-and-Run Driver Kills 4-Year-Old on Neighborhood Street (KXAN)
  • Are Houston’s Sinking Suburbs Making Flooding Worse? (HPM)
  • Texas Police Ramp Up Seat-Belt Enforcement to Try to Address Traffic Fatalities (TWC News)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via The Urban Edge

Where Transportation Makes Affordable Housing Unaffordable

Image via flickr/Prayitno. Affordable housing isn’t always affordable, once its residents need to pay for transportation. In many parts of the country, federal low-income housing programs place poor families in locations that force them to spend on transportation all the money – and in some cases, more – that they saved on housing, according to a newly published study. In a report published in Housing Policy Debate in February, researchers found that U.S. Housing and Urban Development programs, overall, tend to put people in homes that keep them from paying overly burdensome shares of their annual income on both rent and transportation. But there’s a caveat. Those savings vary from region to region, and in some places, families living in government-subsidized units end up without much benefit at all because transportation costs eat up all their housing-based savings. The study was conducted by Shima Hamidi, a planning professor at University of Texas – Arlington; Reid Ewing, a planning professor at the University of Utah and John Renne, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University. The government standard for housing affordability is that households pay no more than 30 percent of their annual income on rent or a mortgage. Likewise, transportation costs are considered affordable if they’re less than 15 percent of annual income. So together, households shouldn’t spend more than 45 percent of their income to live in a house and get around. Read more...
via Houston Tomorrow

Houston Region Growth Patterns Have Significantly Shifted to City

The City of Houston added more people than almost any City in America – second only to New York City – adding 40,032 people between 2014 and 2015, according to the Urban Edge blog.

Looking at the new Census data for 2015 confirms that growth in the Houston region has significantly changed between 2010 and 2015 compared to the previous decade, according to Houston Tomorrow analysis (xls):

From 2010 to 2015, the City of Houston has added an average of 39,355 people every year – 28% of the 142,281 added every year on average in the 13 County Houston region.

From 2000 to 2010, the City of Houston added an average of 14,582 people every year – 12% of the 145,820 added every year on average in the 13 County Houston region.

While the region as a whole appears to have slightly slowed down its extremely rapid rate of growth, the percentage of regional growth being added inside the City of Houston has increased by 2.39, an extremely welcome sign for those concerned about traffic, health, prosperity, and the local and global environment.

We know from the Kinder Houston Area Survey that there is a massive pent up demand for walkable urban lifestyle options that traditionally has not been met in the last four decades of development. The shift in regional growth may be due to a shift in development as the City of Houston has started making urbanism legal. Walkable urban development remains illegal by City of Houston development code in most of the city, requiring a variance unless the development is within a quarter mile of a light rail station. In this small area, the Urban Corridors code is allowed as an alternative to the car dependent codes required for the entire city.

Transit, walking, biking, and green space improvements may also be facilitating the shift.

Read more…

via The Urban Edge

What’s Your Bold Idea For Public Spaces in Houston?

Crews paint the ground in preparation of a new pedestrian plaza in New York City.

If you could close off part of the street and make space for a pedestrian plaza somewhere in Houston, where would you do it?

What about adding a bike path? Or a sidewalk?

Any suggestions for slowing traffic through your neighborhood?

If you could wave a paintbrush or add some traffic barriers and remake our streets, where would you start?

Houstonians have repeatedly been asked similar questions in the past few months at the Kinder Institute’s KI Forum.

Both Gabe Klein, the former Chicago transportation commissioner who spoke in Houston in October, and Janette Sadik-Khan, the former New York City transportation commissioner who spoke this week, challenged Houstonians to be willing to remake and rethink their streets.

One way to do this is by finding ways to give more of the street — which is, after all, public space — over to pedestrians and bicyclists. Neither Klein nor Sadik-Khan advocate for the complete removal of cars from our cities. Instead, they ask for something all the more revolutionary for its actual achievability. They ask that we imagine — and act — to create a streetscape that works for every road user.

Read more…

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Today’s Headlines

  • Austin City Council Adopts Vision Zero (KUOW, #atxurbanists)
  • Houston Mayor Turner Publicly Says “Vision Zero” for the First Time (@houstontomorrow)
  • Improving Safety on Roads Could Also Be the Best Way to Reduce Traffic (KEYE)
  • Ride a Free Austin B-Cycle With Code 2453 for Bike to Work Day Today
  • Austin Council Approves First Vote for Driver-Run Taxi Co-ops (Statesman)
  • How Has Dallas Used Its Desegregation Trust Fund? (Observer)
  • Mixed-Use New Urban Project Moves Forward After Decade of Working to Change the Game (HBJ)

More headlines at Streetsblog USA

via The Urban Edge

New Census Numbers Show Houston, Other Texas Cities, Among Fastest-Growing in U.S.


New Census figures published today show that, once again, Texas is home to the country’s fastest-growing cities.

New York City took the top spot for year-over-year population growth, based on its increase of 55,211 residents from 2014 to 2015.

Houston came in just behind New York, ranking number two on the list by adding 40,032 residents in the same period. Its total population now stands at 2,296,224, according to the Census.

In fact, among the 15 U.S. cities that added the most residents during that time frame, five are located in Texas (Houston, along with San Antonio, Fort Worth, Dallas and Austin). See the chart below for the list of the 15 fastest-growing cities, in terms of population count. Those Texas cities, by the way, are growing at almost double the rate of the rest of the 15 fastest-growing cities (1.9 percent growth vs. 1.1 percent growth).

Beyond Texas, the list is dominated by cities in the U.S. Sun Belt, which is home to 10 the 15 fastest-growing big cities.

Read more…