Transportation Challenges of Metropolitan Areas

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 09 Apr 2008 14:00:00 GMT

This hearing is the first in a series of hearings exploring emerging themes in transportation policy and practice, the needs of our national surface transportation system, and the reauthorization of our surface transportation laws. The Subcommittee will continue this series by holding hearings in the near future on the issues surrounding freight access and goods movement, infrastructure preservation and modernization, highway safety, mobility and connectivity of rural areas, and other issues.

  • Robert Puentes, Metropolitan Policy Program at The Brookings Institution
  • Robert D. Yaro, President of the Regional Plan Association in New York
  • The Honorable Ron Sims, King County Executive, Seattle, Washington
  • Jolene Molitoris, Assistant Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation
  • Michael R. Wiley, Executive Director of Sacramento Regional Transit District
  • Ron Kirby, Transportation Director of the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments

Around the Blogs: The Benefits of Density

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 21 Feb 2008 18:34:00 GMT

Alex Steffen at WorldChanging in January, with My Other Car is a Bright Green City (edited for publication in BusinessWeek), and Allison Arieff at the New York Times’s By Design blog on Monday, with Is Your House Making You Look Fat?, take involved and interesting looks at the environmental, energy, and health consequences of America’s love affair with sprawl. In Steffen’s words: “The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go.” Arieff mirrors his sentiment: “First, let’s talk about cars. Stop designing for them.

Their excellent essays have spurred varied responses.

Ezra Klein at the American Prospect, yesterday: How We Live Now:

There’s often a tendency to assume that the status quo is the most “natural” way for things to be, and that rejiggering the relevant subsidies is somehow more artificial and presumptuous. But the current system was built atop a massive structure of subsidies and tax breaks. The mortgage tax deduction advantaged bigger homes; funding schools through inequitable property taxes encouraged families to move out of cities where the property taxes were low and into richer suburbs where the schools would be wealthy; putting billions into costly and little-used roads made far-flung developments appear cheap to those who only saw the finished product; underfunding public transportation heavily influenced development patterns, and so on and so forth.

Matt Yglesias picks up at the Atlantic: Dense:

What’s particularly astounding about this stuff, in my view, is that fixing the problem would hardly require some totalitarian density police to come around and force us to all live closer together. Instead, the main step we would need to take would simply be to allow people to build more densely if they want to. As a secondary measure, scrapping or limiting the tax code’s weird and destructive subsidy of big houses would do some good.

Other blogs that picked the thread up include Duncan Black’s Eschaton, 2020 Hindsight, Urban Grounds, Dove’s Eye View, Trinifar’s Some Maintenance Required, The Vigorous North, and The Velorution.

Vision of a Green DC

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 16 Jan 2008 18:10:00 GMT

Bottom segment: Anacostia. Middle: overall design and layout for the city. Top: new eco-friendly features in any representative neighborhood with the following color key: orange for high-density building, blue for rainwater collection, green for energy infrastructure, yellow for expanded Metro. The vertical red tubes represent geothermal wells.
The Washington Post and DCist cover the City of the Future design challenge held yesterday at Union Station. From DCist:
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP won yesterday’s City of the Future design challenge to imagine what Washington would look like in the year 2108. The winning team went green, envisioning a self-sustaining city with soaring towers built on the sites of former forts that once defended Washington, transforming them into centers for wind and solar energy production, hydroponic farming and defensive security systems. In this environmentally friendly city, cars have no place. Metro has been drastically expanded. The diagonal streets designed long ago by Pierre L’Enfant have been turned into pedestrian-friendly green belts, or the “lungs of the city,” as described by Hanny Hassan, partner at BBB. Above-ground public transportation runs on the square street grid of the city.

Mayors Climate Summit

Posted by Brad Johnson Sat, 03 Nov 2007 20:08:00 GMT

On Thursday and Friday, the U.S. Conference of Mayors met at the 2007 Mayors Climate Summit, the flowering of the Mayors Climate Potection Agreement, the initiative Seattle mayor Greg Nickels began in 2005 to commit to reduce his city’s emissions. More than 700 mayors have since joined the agreement. Al Gore (by satellite), Bill Clinton, and Michael Bloomberg addressed the summit. As reported by The New York Times:
Part pep rally, part policy discussion, the conference presented two main themes: the federal government must do more than the Bush administration has done to fight global warming; and in the meantime, cities must take up the slack.

Spurred by Mayor Greg Nickels of Seattle, more than 700 mayors have signed a pledge to reduce their cities’ emissions of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases to levels laid out in the Kyoto Protocol. That treaty, signed by the United States but never ratified by the Senate, called for reducing such emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels by 2012.

Mr. Nickels issued a report this week showing that Seattle had already exceeded that goal. On Friday, he listed city initiatives like promoting locally produced foods, distributing 300,000 high-efficiency shower heads and encouraging residents to trade in their gasoline-powered mowers for electric or nonmotorized versions. But it helps that Seattle gets its power from hydroelectric dams, not coal or natural gas.

Bright Lights in the Cities: Pathways to an Energy-Efficient Future

Posted by Brad Johnson Fri, 02 Nov 2007 18:30:00 GMT

The Select Committee on Energy Independence & Global Warming will hold a hearing on Friday November 2, at 2:30 p.m. in the Olympic Room at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle, Washington. The hearing is entitled, “Bright Lights in the Cities: Pathways to an Energy-Efficient Future.” Witnesses will be by invitation only.

  • Mayor Bloomberg, City of New York
  • Mayor Diaz, City of Miami, Florida
  • Mayor Nickels, City of Seattle, Washington
  • Mayor Palmer, City of Trenton, New Jersey
  • Mayor Villaraigosa, City of Los Angeles, CA