Selection of ‘Smart Growth’ transit plan marks beginning of AATA countywide expansion

Author: Ryan J. Stanton

After months of gaining feedback from the community through public forums and online polls, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority officials say the verdict is clear: Washtenaw County residents are overwhelmingly in support of a robust plan to expand transit services.

The AATA’s governing board voted unanimously tonight with one member absent to move forward with the most comprehensive and most expensive of three Transit Master Plan scenarios the agency had been considering in recent weeks.

The resolution approved by the board authorizes the agency to move ahead with implementing the “Smart Growth” scenario into the agency’s long-term Transit Master Plan. AATA’s Planning and Development Committee last week recommended the plan over two other options.

“I guess the way I look at this motion is that we’re basically saying this is where we want to be in 30 years,” board Chairman Jesse Bernstein said just before the vote.

“And in a way, that’s almost the easy part, because once we accept that, then we’ve got to figure out how to get there,” Bernstein said. “So this is the beginning.”

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New report reveals smart transportation spending creates jobs, grows the economy

In his State of the Union address, President Obama called on Americans to “out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world” to win the future. To rebuild America, he said, we will aim to put “more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges.”

A new report from Smart Growth America analyzes states’ investments in infrastructure to determine whether they made the best use of their spending based on job creation numbers. Recent Lessons from the Stimulus: Transportation Funding and Job Creation evaluates how successful states have been in creating jobs with their flexible $26.6 billion of transportation funds from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). Those results should guide governors and other leaders in revitalizing America’s transportation system, maximizing job creation from transportation dollars and rebuilding the economy.

According to data sent by the states to Congress, the states that created the most jobs were the ones that invested in public transportation projects and projects that maintained and repaired existing roads and bridges. The states that spent their funds predominantly building new roads and bridges created fewer jobs.

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Will ‘intelligent cities’ put an end to suburban sprawl?

Author: Haya El Nasser

When the economy was roaring and housing booming, reining in suburban sprawl dominated the development debate under the name of “smart growth.”

Now that the economy and housing have tanked, prompting more people to stay put, growth is taking a back seat. But smarts still matter. The new buzzwords: “intelligent cities.”

“There’s a 15- to 20-year cycle on urban planning terms,” says Robert Lang, urban sociologist at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas. “Remember ‘urban renewal’? Smart growth is near the end of its shelf life.”

That’s not to say the principles of smart growth are dead. On the contrary, he says, they’re very much alive and so widely accepted that they’ve become old hat. New Urbanism, the design movement frequently at the heart of smart growth, encourages a mix of homes and businesses in a pedestrian-friendly environment and is common practice now in cities big and small.

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‘Growing Wealthier’ with smart growth

A Center for Clean Air Policy report released January 19, “Growing Wealthier: Smart Growth, Climate Change, and Prosperity,” offers economic and environmental arguments for smart growth. “We find that an inclusive planning process following smart growth principles that yields more walkable neighborhoods with broader options for housing and transportation can help communities, businesses and individuals make money, save money and improve quality of life,” note authors Chuck Koshian and Steve Winkelman.

The report makes many strong points about economic and other benefits of smart growth, including the following:

• Creating a range of housing opportunities in proximity to jobs saves households money. Washington, DC, region households living in the jobs-rich core spent about 30 percent of their income on housing and transportation, while those in the car-dependent outer suburbs spent over 40 percent.

• Improving neighborhood “walkability” enhances property values. rates locations according to a walkability index from 1 to 100. One study found that, in general, every one-point increase in a home’s Walk Score raised its value by $700 to $3,000.

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RFP: The Effect of Smart Growth Policies on Travel Demand

The objectives of project C16 are to: (1) Identify where and how smart growth policies and practices should be addressed at key decision points in the transportation planning process to make better decisions about highway capacity requirements; (2) develop analytical tools that transportation planners can use to quantify the short- and long-term impacts of various smart growth scenarios on peak period travel demand; (3) provide practical guidance and resources to help MPOs and state DOTs use information on the reduction of peak period auto use resulting from existing and planned smart growth developments to relieve regional congestion; (4) provide transportation agencies with advice on how to get the right land use decision makers and stakeholders with the right information involved in the transportation planning process at the right time; and (5) tightly integrate tools and information produced for this project into the web-based Transportation for Communities: Advancing Projects through Partnerships (TCAPP) transportation capacity Decision Guide.