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Transportation News Roundup

October 31, 2008

Check it out: the latest and hottest transportation news from Minnesota, the nation, and the world!


  • Lawmakers Push for Investment in Transportation Infrastructure. On Wednesday, business executives and Republicans joined Democrats and labor unions at a House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure hearing to advocate for infrastructure investment. Advocates argued that every billion dollars of spending on highways and transportation projects results in 35,000 new jobs. Business executives and some economists said that such spending would increase economic activity, national income and productivity, thus generating revenue for the government. David Brooks of the New York Times echoes this call, asking for a National Mobility Project. Transportation for America, a national coalition of which Transit for Livable Communities is an active member, is adding to this call: "If we’re going to go into debt to build for the future – and Brooks is right that we should – we must do so to complete our transportation network, with high-speed rail, modern public transit, streets that support safe biking and walking and, yes, well-maintained highways."
  • New Transit Projects Supported by New Investments. When the Northstar Commuter Rail line opens in 2009, Fridley will have a station, thanks to the new quarter-cent sales tax for transit. Check out the new projects, which include a new park and ride in Apple Valley, funding for metro bus operations in 2009, and operating support for the Hiawatha and Northstar lines. This new regional sales tax will not solve the bus funding shortfall which has come about because of a precipitous decline in the sales tax on new and used vehicles – the major funding source for bus service. TLC will be working hard during the 2009 session to work with legislators to fill an expected $45 million hole in the budget for bus service.

Bicycling and Walking

  • MnDOT Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator Position Includes Car Parking Facilities Management. Somehow, managing the I-394 third avenue distributor (ABC) parking facilities is part of a Pedestrian and Bicycle Coordinator position at MnDOT. Interesting.
  • Survey Explores Why Americans Bike and Walk - or Don't. A recently released survey from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that bicyclists are more likely to feel unsafe on bike lanes than on bike paths. In terms of walking, pedestrians feel threatened by the “potential for crime” but overwhelmingly agree that motorists are the top cause for concern. The survey results demonstrate the need for more dedicated bike paths and pedestrian-friendly urban centers.
  • With Free Bikes, Challenging Car Culture on Campus. When Kylie Galliani started at the University of New England in August, she was given a key to her dorm, a class schedule and something more unusual: a $480 bicycle.“I was like, ‘A free bike, no catch?’ ” Ms. Galliani, 17, a freshman from Fort Bragg, Calif., asked. “It’s really an ideal way to get around the campus.”


  • Are the United States' Urban Planning Priorities Out of Whack? According to the Federal Highway Administration, paved roads in the U.S. cover 61,000 square miles – an area the size of Wisconsin! However, high gas prices and new efforts to curb carbon emissions have prompted individuals and lawmakers to demand a 21st century transportation system that prioritizes alternative, environmentally-friendly modes of travel.
  • Does More Parking Equal More Driving? A new U of PA study, 'Guaranteed Parking, Guaranteed Driving' compares two NYC neighborhoods, showing decisively that providing off-street parking is a sure way to guarantee more driving. The study compares parking and commuting habits in Park Slope Brooklyn, and Jackson Heights, Queens. The study finds that despite having the same car ownership and very similar access to public transit to the Central Business District, Jackson Heights residents are 45 percent more likely to drive to work in the Central Business District and 28 percent more likely to drive to work in general. The study concludes that Jackson Heights car owners are more likely to drive to work because of guaranteed, off-street parking spots to return to at the end of the day.

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