Posts tagged with "Transportation":

Placeholder Alt Text

Parking Increasingly Passé in Downtown Chicago Towers

Crain's has an encouraging report on the drop in demand for parking spaces in Chicago's downtown residential buildings. At Lakeshore East, which includes Studio Gang's Aqua tower, only 40% of renters are leasing parking spaces. The developers had forecast a 55% demand. As a result many buildings are dropping the price for spaces. Other factors including buildings with on-site car sharing and secure bicycle storage areas are also likely cutting demand for parking spaces. As a result, some developers are rethinking how much parking to include in new projects, which would mean smaller podiums and more active street life, something any city would want.
Placeholder Alt Text

Minnesotans Driving Less, Taking Transit a lot More

Nationally the number of Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) has been declining in recent years. Transit ridership has also held steady or been climbing slightly. Minnesota seems to be a dramatic example of this new transportation reality, according to figures from the Minnesota Department of Transportation as reported on Minnpost.com. They cite a 40% increase in transit ridership from 2004 to 2011, and a small but significant decline in VMTs 2011 from their 2007 peak. Road congestion has also been easing slightly. High gas prices, an increasing preference for walkable neighborhoods, and teenagers postponing getting their licenses are all cited as contributing factors. It all adds up to further evidence that political rhetoric around gas prices, transportation, and energy policy needs to catch up to the reality on the ground.
Placeholder Alt Text

Chicago Picks Bike-Sharing Vendor

Big changes are coming to Chicago's streets, as AN has reported. One of the most visible, the city's planned bike-sharing system, just took a major step forward with the selection of a vendor, Portland, Oregon-based Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System. The vendor will supply 3000 bikes and 300 solar powered charging stations this summer, according to the Chicago Tribune. The number will be upped to 5000 bikes and 500 stations by 2014. The Alta/Public partnership operates bike-sharing systems in London, Melbourne, Boston, Minneapolis, Toronto, Washington, D.C. and Montreal among other cities.
Placeholder Alt Text

Calatrava’s First U.S. Vehicular Bridge To Open

The latest bridge from Spanish tension-element guru Santiago Calatrava, renowned architect behind the Milwaukee Art Museum, Puente del Alamillo, and the upcoming World Trade Center Transportation Hub, will be his first vehicular bridge in the United States. Construction has been completed on the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge, the first in a series of Calatrava-designed crossings over Dallas' Trinity River. It will act as a literal and metaphorical gateway to the city. This new bridge links the banks of the Trinity River, with hopes of making the area a lively gathering place. Calatrava wants to rethink the riverfront and its capacity to bring in development as part of the city's urban revitalization efforts. He stated he envisions the Trinity River Corridor as the heart of the city, a recreational area much like New York's Central Park. The bridge is the first step in making the waterfront a focal point for recreation. “During my first visit to Dallas I realized that the river basin had the potential to be of defining importance to the city’s future development,” said Calatrava. The structure is a signature Calatrava design with glowing white arch and supporting suspension cables. Supporting over 14,000 cars per day, the new bridge is part of a larger project involving the replacement of Interstate Highway 30. The Trinity Trust Group, a nonprofit supporting revitalization of the riverfront, will host a series of inaugural events, and Calatrava will be in Dallas this weekend for an opening ceremony complete with fireworks, a Lyle Lovett concert, and a ribbon-cutting ceremony.  (Fingers crossed that the architect himself will hoist the giant scissors.)  The bridge is planned to open to traffic March 29.
Placeholder Alt Text

Legislative Update> Transit, Biking, Walkability, Preservation & the Environment at Risk

It's becoming clear how Congress' approval ratings keep dropping to new historic lows—the latest Gallup Poll released yesterday puts it at a squat ten percent—when the legislative body continues to threaten policies not just architects but also the general public hold near and dear. Now, as key transportation bills that set funding for all national infrastructure--including roads, transit, shipping, pipelines, and even sidewalks--prepare for a votes in the House of Representatives and Senate as soon as the coming week, we're seeing transit, biking, walkability, the environment, and historic preservation all at risk. Here's a roundup of the latest: Among the chief concerns of the House's HR7 bill, otherwise known as the American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act, is that dedicated funding for transit, biking, and walkability is eliminated. That includes funding requirements for Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality (CMAQ) programs that promote alternative transportation, such as sidewalks, bike lanes, and the Safe Routes to School program.  But that's not the end of it; Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic has a great write-up of all the bill's problems. For instance, on why funding is being eliminated for transit, bikes, and pedestrians in the first place:
The members of the committee determined that to remedy the fact that gas taxes have not been increased since 1993, the most appropriate course was not to raise the tax (as would make sense considering inflation, more efficient vehicles, and the negative environmental and congestion-related effects of gas consumption) but rather to transfer all of its revenues to the construction of highways. Public transit, on the other hand, would have to fight for an appropriation from the general fund, losing its traditional guarantee of funding and forcing any spending on it to be offset by reductions in other government programs.
Highway cost overruns not covered by the gas tax could be paid for by up to $2 billion from drilling for oil in coastal waters, including areas in the Gulf hit by the massive BP oil spill,and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The New York Times recently blasted the GOP bill that Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman himself, called "the worst transportation bill I've ever seen during 35 years of public service." He also told Politico, "It also is the most anti-safety bill I have ever seen...It hollows out the guts of the transportation efforts that we've been about for the last three years." With a vote imminent, groups from Transportation for America to the National Resources Defense Council declared today a national day of action to get in touch with your elected officials and voice your opinion about the bills. AIA President Jeff Potter is among those concerned that current transportation bills are flawed. “While we are gratified that both the House and the Senate are moving ahead on transportation bills, there are some provisions that would take our communities in the wrong direction,” said Potter. “We urge Congress to continue working on a truly bipartisan bill that helps meet the design and construction industry goals: hold funding levels steady, support multiple modes of transportation, and account for the many enhancements that well-planned transportation projects can bring to communities throughout this great nation.” While the AIA praised the Senate for including provisions that assist in planning mixed-use communities around transit, it worries that by removing dedicated transit funding, those planning capabilities are jeopardized. From the AIA's official statement:
The AIA is concerned that provisions in bills that have passed House committees would hurt a community’s ability to plan. This is especially true for provisions in the Ways and Means bill that remove transit from the trust fund and provisions in the Transportation and Infrastructure committee’s bill that prevent communities from using funds for preservation and re-use of historic facilities.
Historic preservation is at risk in the Senate's S. 1813: MAP-21. Here's the gist of the problem from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:
Transportation Enhancements (TE), the single largest source of federal funding for historic preservation, is still under siege. ... MAP-21 (S. 1813) eliminates dedicated funding for TE, forcing the program to compete with other types of road projects that do not possess the same job creation or cultural heritage benefits as preservation-oriented TE projects. In addition, we anticipate harmful amendments that would further weaken the program. To make matters worse, the outlook for TE is even bleaker in the House. Current proposals not only eliminate the funding set aside but also eliminate the preservation-related categories of the TE program entirely. This is why it is critical to get favorable TE language into the Senate bill.
The National Trust has also called for concerned citizens to contact their legislators about the proposal. You can read more about the connection between preservation and transportation at the Trusts's Preservation Nation blog.
Placeholder Alt Text

Talking Transportation In Los Angeles

Yes, it's conference time again in LA. The AIA Los Angeles Design Conference, part of Dwell on Design, kicks-off on Friday with an all day symposium, The Architecture of Transportation, which will discuss ideas to help transform L.A.‘s transportation system into an economically and socially viable network. Participants like policy makers, activists, urban designers and architects, will investigate a wide range of transportation-related ideas, like connecting people to their communities, influencing regional prosperity and helping cities compete globally. Among several panels and case studies will be Creating Perspective: The History of the Future in Transportation, which will include both a survey of transportation design and a look ahead to the future. Moderated by David Abel, publisher of The Planning Report, panelists will examine mass transit, road systems, and current infrastructure. In the afternoon The Regional Level: Connectivity, Prosperity, Vibrancy and Delight will focus on transportation at the regional level, assessing the big picture in regards to ease of getting to the to transit stations, safety,  overall design, sidewalk accessibility and its impact on the community. The symposium will take place at the LA Convention Center from 9-5pm.  For more information and a complete list of panelists, visit here. On Saturday the conference will feature The Business of Architecture, with seminars designed to help firms boost their positions in the challenging economy.
Placeholder Alt Text

Infrastructure Blues: ULI Report Assesses National & Global Policy

Once again, the results of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) /Ernst & Young annual global infrastructure report don't look good for America. According to the document, "The United States notably continues to lag its global competition—laboring without a national infrastructure plan, lacking political consensus, and contending with severe federal, state, and local budget deficits that limit options." The end of the federal stimulus package in 2013 makes the picture even bleaker. "The stimulus helped, but it was only a down payment on what’s needed," said Ernst & Young Global Real Estate Leader Howard Roth at a recent ULI meeting in Phoenix. There are solutions, according to Roth. Among them the U.S. needs to "put in place a national infrastructure strategy rather than take a piecemeal approach." Congress must authorize the next surface transportation bill which is long overdue, regional transportation planning needs to be better coordinated and the country "must make itself a preferred market for institutional investment capital by encouraging private investment." Maureen McAvey, executive vice president at ULI, said we're entering an "era of less" in which the political reality opposes new taxes, tolls, and user fees (for instance, the gas tax has not been increased in 18 years). Faced with declining sales tax revenue and less federal support, projects across the nation are stalling and transit systems--which can't legally run a deficit--are cutting back service. With an expected annual increase in population of three million people over the next several decades, McAvey points to regional cooperation as one way forward. She noted that when ballot measures to fund transportation projects are presented to the public, they are overwhelmingly passed (on average, 71% over the past decade). Such measures usually call for a self-imposed sales tax increase or bond measure. Another funding mechanism expected to play an increased role in the future is the public-private partnership (PPP), said Jay Zukerman, U.S. Infrastructure Leader at Ernst & Young. Pointing to projects such as a $7.2 billion highway in Dallas and a light rail line in Denver, Zukerman said PPP's can be a valuable tool. He cautioned that PPPs "generate alternative financing, but don't grow the revenue pie," so they are not a substitute for sound infrastructure policy. Roth continued, "China, India, and Brazil have all embarked upon strategic infrastructure programs and will invest about $1 trillion each over the next three to five years in high speed rail, new highways, toll roads, and urban transit." All agreed it will be vastly important for the United States to develop an infrastructure plan and then implement it for the nation to remain competitive in the future.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Parklet Lost, CityGarden Love, Chatham Scratched and Directing Traffic

Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept--transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk--and we hear they're quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident. Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis' much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI's 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC's Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize. Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown's Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn't want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead. Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: "It looks like Scott's tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!" Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak's coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it's time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign. Buffalo's Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That's what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley's hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with "young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work." Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country's oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Floating, Ethics, Mansard Roofs, Transit Saves

Up, Up & Away. My Modern Met has a photo set from National Geographic's recreation of the Pixar movie Up. With the help of 300 colorful weather balloons, a team of engineers and pilots sent a 16' square house skyward in LA, setting a world record in the process. (Via Curbed.) Archi-Ethics. Mark Lamster is leading this week's Glass House Conversation. He's discussing the ethics of client selection: "How do we balance commercial imperatives with a desire for a moral practice?" Mansard Mania. The New York Times has a feature on Manhattan's Mansard roof heyday between 1868 and 1873, spotlighting some of the best examples of the French-style roof. Transit Saves. As civil unrest continues in the Middle East, oil prices have risen to near record levels. Reuters brings us a study from the American Public Transportation Association that finds transit riders are saving over $800 a month with the elevated gas costs, and projects nearly a $10,000 savings annually if gas maintains its high price tag.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Piano, Plazas, Babbling, Budget Cuts

Manhattanville's Piano. While tallying who is the biggest landlord in New York (it's still the church by a hair), The Observer uncovered a few new views of Renzo Piano's Jerome L. Green Science Center at Columbia's Manhattanville campus, seen here next to a train viaduct. Pedestrianizing New York. The remaking of New York's public spaces continues its forward march. Brownstoner has details on the planned pedestrian plaza on Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn and StreetsBlog highlights DOT's plans to create a permanent block-long Plaza de las Americas in Washington Heights. Archi-babble. Witold Rybczynski talkes issue with architecture's professional jargon in Slate, including a beginner's guide to commonly used words from assemblage to gesamtkunstwerk. What's your favorite word from the language of architecture? Subway Squeeze. We're not talking about your crowded commute, but New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's proposal to trim $100 million from transit. Transportation Nation and StreetsBlog have the details and implications for getting around New York.
Placeholder Alt Text

Quick Clicks> Coffee, Immobility, Engagement, Hipsters

[ Quick Clicks is AN's guided tour of interesting links from around the web. ] Coffee Break. A fourteen-foot tall neon sign that has been removed from the Knoxville, TN skyline after 50 years is undergoing restoration but needs a new home. Preservation magazine has the story and Knox Heritage has more info on their sign restoration program. Urban Immobility Report? Greater Greater Washington has an update on the controversy of a major traffic congestion report released each year the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) called the Urban Mobility Report (UMR). Last year, CEOs for Cities published a critical analysis of the UMR called Driven Apart pointing out its false conclusions that can distort the congestion level based on the sprawl levels. How will it impact the future of transportation funding in the U.S.? Street Presence. Should urban buildings should put their best face forward? Pointing to a rather uninspiring St. Louis building from the 1980s with its back turned to downtown streets, Urban Review STL argues that a certain level of sidewalk interaction, whether that be storefronts, entrances, or simply windows, should be required through zoning for a more vibrant urban experience. Portlandia? Did you catch the premiere of IFC's new sketch comedy flick Portlandia over the weekend? While it's not quite so much about architecture, it does parody the city that has helped to transform the idea of bikability and the future of the American city. The Oregonian has a roundup of reviews from across the country and Bike Portland has a clip of an upcoming sketch about bike messengers.