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Archive for the ‘Policy’ Category

Guest on The Infra Blog: Bud Wright, Executive Director, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO)

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
Bud Wright, Executive Director, AASHTO

Frederick G. “Bud” Wright is Executive Director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), a non-profit, non-partisan association which advocates transportation-related policies and provides technical services to support states in their efforts to efficiently and safely move people and goods. He has almost four decades of experience in both the private sector and as a top executive at the Federal Highway Administration.

“I think the most important thing for us right now is to preserve the investment that we have already made…You build a home and you don’t just walk away from it for the next hundred years. You’re going to have to make investments to not only maintain it, but to upgrade it.”

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West Valley City, UT: Traffic Modeling of Transit Oriented Development

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
Figure 2.4 The example of two neighborhoods with different levels of connectivity (Source: New Jersey DOT)

MOUNTAIN-PLAINS CONSORTIUM
Throughout the Wasatch Front Metropolitan Region, the majority of land use development forces people to drive in order to access their destinations. This is due to low density and mostly single use developments built on poorly connected street networks with several cul-de-sacs and few routing options for transport system users. Even though the development of Wasatch Front has the legacy of transit supportive land uses in the region’s city centers and previous street car suburbs, the connection between them is still such that it encourages driving as the dominant mode of transportation. Designing streets and street networks that would support TOD environments is still considered with hesitation as the potential solution for traffic congestion and increasing travel demand. One of the reasons for this might be the need to evaluate the effects that TOD has on traffic operations.

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NYC Six Month Report Card: New Class at the City Council

Monday, September 8th, 2014

TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
In January, 21 new members were sworn into the 51-seat City Council – New York City’s most powerful governing body. Some defeated long-standing incumbents. Many were elected on the strength of their transportation platforms, with promises of more safe, convenient and affordable transportation ushering them into office. In a Transportation Alternatives survey before the election, candidates pledged to improve bus service, expand the bike network and make New York City’s streets and sidewalks safer for everyone. Now, halfway through the first year of their terms, Transportation Alternatives looks back at what City Council members pledged, and how they have lived up to their promises on crucial transportation issues.

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Nurse Lan, on time every time, thanks to transit

Friday, September 5th, 2014
Waiting briefly at Takoma Station for the Metrobus 63.

Lan is a nurse –a patient care manager in the Oncology Ward of MedStar Washington Hospital Center here in the nation’s capital. Lan and the nurses she helps oversee provide care for patients battling cancer. And her reliance on public transit to get to this important job makes it clear: When we or our loved ones depend on dedicated caregivers like Lan Phan, we also depend on a safe, efficient transportation network to get them to work so they can deliver that care.

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No, Americans Are (Still) Not Driving More

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

Written by Shane Phillips
The U.S. Department of Transportation is reporting that driving is at a six-year high, but beware the hype. As James Brasuell at Planetizen notes, these numbers are not adjusted for population and thus don’t account for the growing number of residents living in the country. As always, the better question to ask is how much the average American is driving, and the answer to that is the same as it’s been for years: less and less.

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Fueling Road Spending with Federal Stimulus

Thursday, August 28th, 2014
Figure 1: Federal Highway Grants and Spending

FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF SAN FRANCISCO
ECONOMIC RESEARCH DEPARTMENT
During the Great Recession, a surge in federal government spending was one option frequently called for as a means to sustain and stimulate the economy. Given the substantial perceived need for infrastructure improvements, many commentators argued that highways should be near the front of the line for any stimulus dollars. It is no surprise then that the 2009 fiscal stimulus package known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) contained $48 billion in transportation funding, $27 billion specifically for roads. These funds generally took the form of grants to state governments and were in addition to the usual federal transportation grants sent to state governments every year from the national Highway Trust Fund. Thanks to ARRA, federal highway grants to states jumped nearly 75% in 2009. Still, road spending by state and local governments nationwide—which is the source of virtually all road spending in the United States—was roughly flat between 2008 and 2011.

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The High-Speed Rail Debate Revisited

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 12
Two recent columns in the New York Times (both reprinted below) have revived the semi-dormant debate about the future of high-speed rail in America. The first column, by New York Times correspondent Ron Nixon, casts a skeptical eye on the Administration’s high-speed rail program and concludes that “despite the administration spending nearly $11 billion since 2009….the projects have gone mostly nowhere…”

The second column, closely following the first, is an opinion piece by the Times’ editorial board. The editors may have felt obliged to respond to the highly critical assessment of the White House initiative by one of their own reporters.

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The Societal Costs and Benefits of Commuter Bicycling

Monday, August 11th, 2014

NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH SCIENCES
Car use is the dominant mode of transport to work in many high-income cities. In car-oriented cities, commuting by private motor vehicle allows access to employment and training (crucial social determinants of health) while enabling households to manage competing responsibilities. However, car-dependent commuting has significant negative public health effects for commuters, the wider community, and local and global ecosystems. A mode shift to greater use of active transport would bring environmental, health, social, and equity benefits (de Nazelle et al. 2011; Hosking et al. 2011).

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The Changing Nature of State-Federal Relations in Transportation

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Innovation Newsbriefs
Vol. 25, No. 11
With the Republicans likely to control the Senate next year and the presidential elections casting a shadow over any new proposal to raise taxes, there will be a huge temptation for Congress to kick the can down the road once again — beyond the presidential election and into the next Congress. Remember, it took three years and eight short-term extensions to pass the last reauthorization, MAP-21!

Fortunately, many individual states are trying to compensate for the lack of congressional action on long term funding by raising additional revenue of their own. Our survey has identified more than 30 states that have launched transportation-related fiscal initiatives in the past two years.

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NYC: Six Months of Vision Zero Traffic Enforcement

Friday, August 1st, 2014
Image 1: Map of the most improved and least improved precincts in each Borough Command for speeding summonses, January to June 2013 versus 2014.

TRANSPORTATION ALTERNATIVES
Despite two decades of steady declines,traffic fatalities remain an epidemic in New York City. More people are killed in traffic than are murdered by guns;traffic crashes are the foremost cause of preventable death for New York City children and, after falls,the primary cause of injury-related death for older New Yorkers.

In February 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio launched a Vision Zero initiative –with the goal of eliminating traffic fatalities and serious injuries in New York City by 2024 –which the New York Police Department embraced wholeheartedly, instructing all precinct commanders to increase enforcement of the most dangerous traffic violations.Increased enforcement remains a central element to achieving Mayor de Blasio’s Vision Zero goal.

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