Although it hasn’t yet broken ground, Kansas City plans to revive a long-dormant streetcar network. Voters approved a ballot measure in 2012 to fund a 2-mile starter route from Union Station to the River Market, nearly 55 years after the city halted its original streetcar service in 1957. Now Kansas City residents are likely to vote again to help pay for streetcar construction, this time to approve taxes that would help fund a new streetcar taxing district. The measure goes to City Council on Jan. 23. The district goes far beyond the terminals of the streetcar’s starter line. As the Kansas City Star reported, it would run from State Line to I-435 and from the Missouri River to 85th Street. In a November election, voters need to approve the district and a one-cent sales tax increase there, as well as special property taxes for properties generally within about a half-mile along the actual streetcar lines. To avoid double-taxing some residents, the taxing district would replace an existing downtown transportation district currently funding some of the starter line’s construction. Streetcar expenses could reach $400 million. Some of that could be scrounged from federal dollars and other sources, but supporters say local funding is the critical first step. In Cincinnati, too, boosters of a similar streetcar plan in that city celebrated news last month that work would resume on the project after City Council members narrowly voted to halt construction. Though the governor and members of city council had previously attempted to strip the partially completed project's funding, construction has since resumed. The project is on track to finish in 2016.
Posts tagged with "Public Transit":
Move over Morgan—the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) released renderings Monday of a redesign for the ‘L’ station at Washington-Wabash whose modern look could unseat the sleek Morgan as CTA’s most handsome stop. The so-called “Gateway to Millennium Park” will serve the Brown, Green, Orange, Pink and Purple lines by consolidating two Loop stations: Randolph-Wabash and Madison-Wabash. Replacing two century old stops, it will be the first new ‘L’ stop in the Loop since the Library/State-Van Buren station was built in 1997. Chicago-based exp, formerly known as Teng + Associates, designed the bone white, undulating station. The color and curvature call to mind Calatrava's Milwaukee Art Museum, or perhaps a ribcage. With 13,375 daily entries, it’s expected to become the fifth busiest CTA station on weekdays, according to city estimates. Scheduled to open in 2016, the station will feature 100 percent LED lighting, bike racks, and “a significant amount” of recycled material. The reveal follows news of the planned McCormick-Cermak CTA station, designed by Chicago’s Ross Barney Architects (Ross Barney also designed the system’s newest stop, Morgan Station). Construction on the $75 million station is scheduled to begin in 2014. That money will come entirely from the Federal Highway Administration’s Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program.
This week a city council panel voted to advance Minneapolis’ plans for a 3.4-mile streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Avenues. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s thumbs up clears the way for a full City Council vote next week. Renderings show preliminary plans for a $200 million streetcar line instead of a bus route. About $60 million of that comes from a state-approved “value capture district,” (similar to TIF funding). The rest will come from funding not yet identified, but could include a transit sales tax. Minneapolis’ move comes alongside streetcar developments in Cincinnati and in Kansas City, among other cities.
In finalizing a key component of the Long Island Index’s 2014 effort to explore innovations for Long Island’s downtown area parking facilities, Build a Better Burb: ParkingPLUS Design Challenge has revealed the chosen architectural firms to take on the venture. The Rauch Foundation’s project goal is to investigate new parking design concepts that integrate local amenities and transform parking facilities into architectural attractions. The four firms—dub studios, LTL Architects, Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design, and Utile, Inc.—will individually tackle downtown needs in one of four Long Island communities: Patchogue, Rockville Centre, Ronkonkoma, and Westbury. Each community will collaborate with a selected architectural firm to pinpoint prospective sites. With more than 4,000 acres of surface parking lots in Long Island’s downtowns, the chance to re-imagine parking will hopefully encourage residents to contribute to the process. The Design Challenge seeks to stimulate innovative thinking about the area’s mass transit-served downtowns. The Long Island Index’s online journal of suburban design, Build a Better Burb, will be the principal site for public discussion about the designs. Each of the winning architectural teams will receive design stipends and will have six weeks to complete their designs, which will be revealed in January by the Long Island Index. The firms and their corresponding communities are:
- dub studios, Patchogue
- LTL Architects, Westbury
- Roger Sherman Architecture + Urban Design, Ronkonkoma
- Utile, Inc., Rockville Centre
The Rockefeller Foundation has announced that four cities will receive a combined $1.2 million in grants to foster research, communications, and community outreach efforts in an endeavor to educate local stakeholders about the advantages of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) systems. The Foundation’s solution to “Transform Cities” and promote fiscal growth and quality of life proposes better mass transit investments. Boston, Chicago, Nashville, and Pittsburgh will participate in the project. The high performance mass transit system, referred to as BRT, offers much of the permanence and speed of a rail system in addition to the flexibility of bus systems for a smaller investment in initial infrastructure costs. BRT systems operate high-capacity vehicles that rely on dedicated lanes and elevated platforms to deliver efficient service. For years, the Rockefeller Foundation has supported Chicago’s attempts to build a city-wide BRT. With the grant, the city could potentially assemble and operate the first gold-standard BRT in the country. Currently, Cleveland operates the nation's highest-ranked BRT system at the ITDP's Silver designation. Pittsburgh’s Allegheny County Port Authority’s Transit Development plan recommends a BRT system to link downtown to its Oakland areas. At least forty stakeholder companies are working together to consider BRT system options for Pittsburgh. A projected BRT system in Nashville would run directly through the city’s downtown hub, although the project remains in the planning stage. In Boston, transportation supporters and state officials are currently considering a BRT system amid alternative transit modernization enterprises. The Rockefeller Foundation selected public affairs firm Global Strategy Group to handle the grant by teaming up with local partner organizations in each city. For the past three years, the Foundation has made over $6 million available to encourage the expansion of BRT.
Kansas City, recently outfitted with superfast internet courtesy of Google, is on the move. And KC taxpayers voted to keep up the momentum this week, authorizing a special taxing district to help fund a downtown streetcar. A transportation development district would cultivate the 2-mile, $101 million route from Union Station to the River Market. The line was shortened by 300 feet after a scramble to make up for $25 million in TIGER grants that the city applied for and was not awarded. Funding for the modified plan came from the Mid-America Regional Council. Now efforts turn to finding an operator. Kansas City will work with the Port Authority to create a Streetcar Authority—a step which has become a hang-up for similar efforts in Detroit. But Wednesday’s vote is a clear signal of public and political support for expanded public transit in the city. KC is also lining up funding for a second phase of streetcar lines, totaling 22 miles of track crisscrossing the city.
Transit Surprise. The Atlantic has the 10 best and worst cities for public transportation based on a report on transit and access to jobs from the Brookings Institution. The think tank ranked cities by the area served and the share of city jobs accessible by public transit. The results might surprise you: none of the cities with the best public transit are on the East Coast. HUD in Hot Water. The Washington Post alleged that "HUD has lost hundreds of millions on delayed or defunct construction deals nationwide" in its new investigative series "Million-Dollar Wasteland." The paper explores, among deals in other cities, a failed project in D.C. where speculators profited at the cost of millions for the city government. Graceland Saved. The flooding along the Mississippi River has spared Memphis' key historic landmarks. According to NPR, Graceland, Sun Studio (where Elvis Presley recorded), and Stax Records (which launched Otis Redding's career) were unharmed. But some of Louisiana's most valuable farmland is expected to be inundated by rising waters. Interior Award. Bar Agricole in San Francisco won the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Interior, reported Fast Company. The restaurant, which serves French-inspired food sourced from local farms, features billowing glass sculptures, walls lined with strips of oak from whiskey barrels, recycled oak seating, and concrete banquettes. Restauranteur Thad Vogler collaborated with Aidlin Darling Design, which received co-ownership for its work.
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Bent stainless steel benches in Philly’s SEPTA station are designed to stand the ultimate urban test.A subway bench never proves itself on the first day. That was one of the things that interested the designers at Veyko, a Philadelphia-based metal fabrication shop, when they set out to compete for a federally-funded Art In Transit commission to design benches for Philadelphia’s 8th Street SEPTA station. “As a fabricator, you often see these blob forms, but my particular interest was taking that form and putting it in the most caustic situation, which is a major urban transit system,” said Veyko founder Richard Goloveyko of the team’s design, which won the commission in 2005. “We wanted to see that form built well enough to exist the wear and tear of a subway station.” The benches have resiliency thanks to their bent wire design. The idea for the shape came from the way subway travelers wait in the station: they sit or they lean. By modeling these positions in Rhinoceros and Solidworks, the team created a map between the two postures, and the curved, skeleton-like form took shape. Bench frames were cut using a five-axis water jet machine, while CNC wire forming bent 5/6-inch stainless steel strands to meet exact parameters set forth in the computer model. Wires are spaced at 1-1/8 inches on-center to create a comfortable, structurally sound design that also allows water and small debris to pass through. The ten, 20-foot-long benches fabricated by Veyko were bolted to station walls using Hilti epoxy anchors, giving cleaning crews easy access to clean the floor beneath. As another sanitary measure, the stainless steel is electro-polished, resulting in a mirror-like finish that resists dirt and bacterial buildup, similar to finishes used on sanitary hospital equipment. The design of the benches discourages anyone from lying on them, a parameter in the competition guidelines, but “virtually everyone uses them differently,” said Goloveyko. Kids tend to nestle into the seat, some people sit on the area for leaning, and some gather in the small alcoves formed by the arched seat. Now, about a year after installation, the benches show no signs of damage—no small feat for a station that sees tens of thousands of travelers a day. Inspired by the SEPTA bench design process, the Veyko team has now entered similar proposals in other public transit competitions across the country. While the SEPTA bench design is too complex to be viable for commercial sale, similar iterations may not be, and the company plans to develop its own line of urban furniture sometime soon. Above video: An example of CNC wire bending.
As AN reported yesterday, California voters came out in force to favor a handful of pro-transit and planning initiatives, a trend that swept the country on election day. According to a press release from the America Public Transportation Association (APTA), 16 states approved 23 ballot measures on Tuesday, dedicating some $75 billion to transit-oriented projects. William Millar, the APTA president, applauded American's for their historic vote:
It is significant to note that in a time of economic uncertainty, more than 70 percent of transit-related ballot measures passed as people voted to raise public revenue in order to improve public transportation. Americans understand that public transportation has many benefits. Taking public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices and save money. It is also one of the most effective actions a person can take to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change.In total, 32 initiatives were on the ballots Tuesday. Beyond the California votes, APTA singled out Seattle's plan to expand commuter rail, as well as a similar but smaller one in Honolulu that set aside $3.7 billion. And the Mahoning County (home to Youngstown) system was kept alive thanks to an increase of the local sales tax by 0.25 points. In two separate releases, the association also congratulated President-Elect Obama, in light of his transit advocacy--something we recently mentioned--and noted that Americans can, on average, save a shocking $9,000 each year by riding public transporation, even factoring in the recent declines in gas prices. Who saves the most? You guessed it: New Yorkers, who save nearly $13,000 a year. It almost justifies everything else being so damn expensive, doesn't it?