Streams

More Criticism Rains down on Scott from FL Officials for Killing High Speed Rail

Friday, February 25, 2011

This just in from Democratic Congresswoman Corrine Brown:

PRESS RELEASE
THE HONORABLE CORRINE BROWN

THIRD CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT OF FLORIDA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:  February 25th, 2011

Congresswoman Brown:  Rick Scott Puts Florida Jobs on High Speed Train to California

(Washington, DC) Congresswoman Brown delivered the following statement:

"Today is a very sad day for the state of Florida.  As the Ranking Member of the House Railroad subcommittee, I am more than disappointed in the Florida's governor's decision to return $2.4 billion in funding for a high speed rail system.  Just yesterday, Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica and I attended a previously scheduled listening tour to obtain input from Americans nationwide on the upcoming six year Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill.  The hearing, which was jointly held with Senator Barbara Boxer and attended by several Members of the California congressional delegation, was widely attended and attracted a great deal of interest in the Los Angeles area.  Sadly, I must admit that many of the California delegation members thanked Congressman Mica and me profusely for the high speed rail money Florida Governor Scott is about to hand over to their state.  It was extremely painful for me to hear these types of remarks, as well as to physically be, ironically, in California at the same time our governor is working hard to give away over $2 billion in high speed rail funding destined for our state.

Unfortunately, Florida's governor is much more interested in politics than in creating jobs or improving the transportation system for Florida residents.  And his decision will not do anything to bring down Florida's 12% unemployment rate. 

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Does The Spoke and Hub Transit System Still Work?

Friday, February 25, 2011

Transit systems in New York, Chicago, and many other cities were designed a hundred years ago to get people in and out of downtowns, where most of the employment was.  A new report from the Center for and Urban Future in New York suggests that's outdated, and that many people now live and work in the boroughs outside Manhattan.   Click here for Brian Lehrer's interview with study author David Giles.

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Billings-bound Megaload Waiting For Weather To Clear

Friday, February 25, 2011

(Helena, MT-Jackie Yamanaka,  YPR) – Winter weather has delayed the megaloads being trucked from the Port of Lewiston, Idaho to a refinery in Billings, Montana.

Megaloads are giant trucks that have been described as “heavier than the Statue of Liberty, nearly as long as a football field, wider than the roads that they’re actually traveling on, and three stories high.”

A so-called megaload of refinery equipment bound for a ConocoPhillips refinery in Billings is just east of the Idaho-Montana border, poised to make a circuitous 500-odd mile trip from the Lolo National Forest, and winding up to Roy, before making its way back down to a refinery near Billings.

Since about mid-February, one load has been waiting near Lolo Hot Springs near the ID-MT border.  The plan is to move all of the loads together to lessen disruptions.

The delay, however, is giving people time to get a first hand look at the loads.

Idaho residents Heather Rebal and Jason Meyer stopped at the pullout to get a first-hand look at the coke drum shipment.

“I think it’s cool,” says Rebal. “I’d like to see it going down the road.”

This load is half of a 300-ton coke drum. It’s about three-stories high and 226-feet long.  Delays are limited to 15 minutes for traffic.  Meyer says that wouldn’t bother him.

“It would be slow, but you gotta do what you gotta do,” he says. “How else are they going to get it there?”

Montana Department of Transportation Director Jim Lynch says he’s impressed with how ConocoPhillips and its transport contractor Emmert International are handling the shipments.

Lynch says moving such large loads are not new for Montana.

“We permit a lot of megaloads,” he says.  “This is not the first megaload that has been permitted or that the Montana public has seen. I don’t want to make the Montana public think this is something that has never happened in Montana. It happens on a regular basis.”

But some Montana residents would like to change that. Earlier this month one legislator introduced a bill that would have required special-use permits for megaloads. It's not expected, though, that the legislature will take action on it.

Lynch says once the entire load is consolidated the shipment will be escorted by the Montana Highway Patrol and representatives of his agency to make sure the transport is taking place according to the conditions of the permit.

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No Deal: Florida High Speed Rail Lost in Space

Friday, February 25, 2011

Florida Governor Rick Scott at the Port of Jacksonville in January 2011. Scott has said he supports investments in ports and highways. But not high speed rail. (Flickr image by JAXPORT)

[UPDATE: On Friday morning, Governor Scott asked USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood for another week to consider the proposal for an interlocal entity, the potential compromise described below.]

(Matt Dellinger, Transportation Nation) Florida Governor Rick Scott will make no formal announcement about his final decision to kill the Tampa-to-Orlando high speed rail line, his spokesperson told the Tampa Tribune. It seems that the people of Florida and the nation will have to settle for a brief interview Scott gave to a local Fox News affiliate. “I’m not convinced that project is a good project," he said. "There’s a significant risk of cost overruns for construction. Historically that’s what’s happened with those projects.”

Neither the reporter, Derrol Nail, nor the Governor seemed to appreciate the irony that these remarks were delivered at the Kennedy Space Center, where Discovery departed on its final mission yesterday. NASA's shuttle program, a rather expensive mode of transportation enjoyed by only a few, has nevertheless brought great economic development to the region, and the winding down of the shuttle program will mean layoffs: United Space Alliance, for instance, has announced that 548 workers at Kennedy will lose their jobs come April.

Constructing America’s first high speed rail line in Florida, while not as difficult as building a space station, would more than make up for that dip in employment. Senator Nelson, who was also on hand at the launch, told Fox that the Governor “has made a mistake that’s going to cost people 24,000 jobs in the immediate future.” The Senator’s official statement yesterday pulled no punches. Nelson called the Governor’s decision to reject $2.4 Billion in federal high speed rail funds “pitiful,” “a monumental mistake,” and “hasty and ill-informed.”

Scott’s spokesperson held firm, insisting that “the governor remained principled in his position in protecting Florida taxpayers.” And indeed, principle appeared to play a larger role than practicality.

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TN Moving Stories: WTC Transit Hub Costs Bloom, NY Goes After Cabbies Who Refuse Outer Boro Fares, and Another Toyota Recall

Friday, February 25, 2011

The cost of the transit center at the new World Trade Center site has ballooned to $3.4 billion -- a figure once deemed "simply unacceptable" by the Port Authority. (New York Times)

An Illinois congressman who voted to eliminate funding for an Amtrak line sounds like he hopes to get the chance to reconsider. (WQAD)

WNYC looks at the differing accounts of how the NYPD and the MTA coordinated efforts to capture an accused stabber on a subway train earlier this month.

NY's Taxi and Limousine Commission wants to stiffen fines for cabbies who refuse to make outer borough trips. (WNYC)

SF's BART owned up to their decision to illegally fire their general manager --then rescind that firing -- but her fate as head of the transit district remains unclear. (San Francisco Chronicle)

Denver may have to refund $1.2 million in parking tickets after an investigation showed that they were issued by non-authorized agents. (Denver Daily News)

Toyota is recalling over 2 million vehicles for carpet and floor-mat flaws that could jam gas pedals. (Bloomberg)

Los Angeles's historic Union Station will be purchased by the LA County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for $75 million under a deal that will clear the way for the expansion of transit operations and new development on the property. (Los Angeles Times)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: Florida's high-speed rail project is dead again -- which enrages -- and disappoints -- some politicians.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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Florida Governor's Decision Disappoints -- and Enrages

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) He's made no official announcement, but Florida Governor Rick Scott's decision not to hand over authority for high speed rail to another entity, thereby killing the project, is drawing a loud response. (And of this writing, officials said that even US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood hasn't been formally notified). Earlier today the governor told a local Fox News affiliate: "I'm very thankful that the federal government cares about our infrastructure" and "I'm not convinced this project is a good project." And bipartisan denunciations condemning his refusal to move forward with high-speed rail are rolling in.

Senator Bill Nelson, who spent the last week trying to change Scott's mind, called the governor's decision a "monumental mistake" and added "I think..the governor in rejecting the project may even be exceeding his constitutional authority."

His scathing statement continues: "I am disappointed and – quite frankly – think it pitiful that Scott would turn down $2.4 billion in allocated funding for high-speed rail in the nation’s fourth largest state.  Such a decision will cost Florida 24,000 new jobs and will obstruct economic growth along the I-4 corridor, and eventually all the way from Orlando to Miami." (His full -- and lengthy -- statement can be found in a link at the end of this post.)

Meanwhile, Congressman John Mica - the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a member of Scott's own party --was more measured. His statement that said: “The Governor has made his decision to not pursue the Florida passenger rail project. I understand his concerns with the overall project, which would incur certain risks. I have done all that I can to salvage the project to this point and present what I consider to be a viable alternative plan that places the risk with the private sector and protects the taxpayers. I feel confident the 21-mile segment from the Orlando Airport to the Convention Center and Disney World can be a feasible and profitable transportation link for Florida. While the Governor’s action will terminate the project at this time, it is my intention to work to salvage millions of dollars already expended and years of study on the critically important link from the Orlando Airport to our tourist area. I intend to reassess the project and work with local partners to continue seeking a federal and local solution in building this infrastructure project.”

You can read Senator Nelson's full statement below.

Bill Nelson statement pdf

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BREAKING: Florida High Speed Rail, like ARC Tunnel, Dead Again

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  UPDATED WITH US DOT COMMENTS: Republican Florida Governor Rick Scott is sticking to his decision to kill the Tampa to Orlando high speed rail.

Scott's decision is a major setback to President Obama's goal, put forward in his state of the union, to link eighty percent of Americans to high speed rail within 25 years.

In an unusually sharply worded statement, U.S. Department of Transportation spokeswoman Olivia Alair said “The U.S. Department of Transportation has addressed every legitimate concern Governor Scott has raised with respect to plans to connect Florida through high-speed rail. We have repeatedly and clearly told Governor Scott and his staff that Florida would not bear financial or legal liabilities for the project, and that there is strong private sector interest in taking on the risk associated with building and operating high-speed rail in the state.”

Last week Scott abruptly announced he would be pulling the plug on the $2.7 billion rail line, the first true high speed rail in the U.S.   The Tampa to Orlando line, which was also to stop at Disney World, was to have been complete in just four years -- by 2015.  Scott said Florida's $280 million investment carried too much risk, and that he would return $2.4 billion to the federal government.

But a day after Scott's decision,

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Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel Seen As Pro-Bike, Pro-Transit

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) Chicago -- America's third largest city -- is getting a cyclist Mayor. And one who's interested in transit funding,  large-scale bike-share, car-share, and the nitty gritty of bike lane design. (And one who has some atoning to do for something he neglected to say -- but you'll have to read to the end of the post to find out what.)

We've already written about Rahm Emanuel's transportation plan, which he put forward as a candidate.

But now we've got some fresh details that shed light on what he'll likely do as Mayor of Chicago. About a month ago, Emanuel met with a group of transportation advocates and environmentalists to be briefed on transit and transportation issues. The meeting, according to those present, lasted a full hour.

This kind of meeting seems to have laundered Emanuel from a former White House Chief of staff reviled by Republicans for pushing health care, an energy bill, and an $800 billion economic stimulus package -- and by the left for the way he pushed those things -- to an energetic young Mayor with a bunch of new ideas overwhelmingly supported by Chicago voters.

"Everybody knows about his style and that he’s very direct and smart" the Center for Neighborhood Technology's Sharon Feigon told us. Feigon is also the CEO of I-GO car share, a non profit Chicago-based car share outfit.

"I was impressed that he knew as much detail about all the stuff he’s talking about. A lot of  candidate meetings -- they end up being very general. This struck me as more detailed. He had done some homework"

The participants presented Emanuel with a "Sustainable Transportation Platform," which

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TN Moving Stories: Maryland's Transpo Woes, GM Reports Profits, and TED Takes On Transportation

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Although Virginia gets a lot of attention for its transportation woes, Maryland may be in a worse position. (Washington Post)

General Motors says it earned $4.7 billion last year -- the most in a decade -- and turned its first profit since 2004. (NY Times)

Google invests in a company that could make electric cars more efficient. (AltTransport)

New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority approved a five-year contract with McKinsey & Company -- where Jay Walder once worked -- to help managers cut costs in a range of expected purchases totaling $880 million. (NY Daily News)

At a field hearing in California, House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chair John Mica said “Anyone who comes to Los Angeles and thinks we do not need improvements in transportation must be living on another planet." Meanwhile, LA Mayor Villaraigosa tells the committee he has some ideas about how to fund mass transit. (Los Angeles Times)

TED takes on transportation: the TEDActive Mobility Project is exploring ways to reduce the cost, time and necessity of driving. (PSFK)

RayLaHood blogs about streetcars.

Streetsblog reports on a wide-ranging panel discussion about the future of large infrastructure projects in the NY region.

Second Avenue Sagas looks at yet another plan for a trans-Hudson tunnel that's making the rounds -- wonders "if too many cooks are stirring the cross-Hudson soup."

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: With two days left to save Florida's high-speed rail program, talks are ongoing -- but the governor remains unconvinced. The NRDC lists its 15 "smart cities" for public transit. Chicago has elected a mayor who is pro-bike and pro-transit. And greater Houston politicians may vote to curtail funding for alternative transit projects.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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NRDC List: Top 15 Metro Regions for Public Transportation

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) New York, Chicago, Boston all made the cut. Los Angeles, not so much. The Natural Resources Defense Council released their top 15 "Smart Cities" for transportation Wednesday.

The study compares metro regions according to public transit accessibility, cost, use as well as household auto habits. Innovations, like pedestrian plaza construction and sustainable transportation programs are factored in as well.

The NRDC announcement offers some highlights of what constitutes a "Smart City" In Lincoln, Nebraska, for instance, low-income riders pay a mere $7.50 for unlimited bus rides all month long.

Around U.C. Davis in Yolo, Calif. the local transit provider, Yolobus, does such a good job of balancing the needs of students (who bike a lot), government employees, and casino patrons that the area boasts the highest rate of transit access, 91 percent, of any small region (population under 250,000).

NRDC partnered with the Center for Neighborhood Technology on the study, drawing data from the U.S. Census as well as CNT's H+T Affordability Index that quantifies household transportation costs by location.

Getting from place to place is more affordable in New York—at an average annual household cost of $5,289—than in any other large city, according to CNT.

And at an average of 9,920 miles a year per household, New Yorkers travel fewer miles in the car than residents in any other region in the country besides Jersey City, New Jersey.

The 2011 Smarter Cities for Transportation aren't ranked. Sorry, there's no a number 1 city here. But they are grouped by city size, and each city gets it's own web page extolling the efficiencies, access, or other admirable elements that earned them this eco-accolade.

Large cities (population more than 1 million)

Boston, MA/NH, Chicago, IL, New York, NY , Portland, OR, Philadelphia, PA/NJ , San Francisco, CA, Washington, DC/MD/VA/WV.

Medium cities (population: 250,000 – 1 million)

Boulder-Longmont, CO, Honolulu, HI, Jersey City, NJ, New Haven, CT.

Small (population less than 250,000)

Bremerton, WA, Champaign-Urbana, IL, Lincoln, NE, Yolo, CA

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Funding For Some Bicycle, Transit, And Pedestrian-Oriented Projects in Houston May Be Stalled

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News) Transportation policy makers may vote this Friday on a proposal that would stall money for bike and other alternative transit projects in greater Houston.

A portion of the eight-county region’s four-year $8.1 billion dollar transportation budget may see a reduction in funding for bike, transit, and other pedestrian-oriented projects if the Transportation Policy Council (TPC) votes in favor of the proposal. That means a number of these so-called “alternative mode” projects could be delayed by one or more years.

Alan Clark, the director of transportation and planning at the Houston-Galveston Area Council, says if the proposal is approved, up to $13 million dollars that would have been spent on “alternative mode” projects could go to road and freight rail projects instead. He says the money could be made available for projects like, "intersection improvements, additional improvements to ramping or interchanges, the widening of an existing road, construction of one that’s in poor condition, that sort of thing.”

But Clark says none of the scheduled “alternative mode” projects are at risk of losing their funding, it just means the money for some of them might come later. Clark says there will still be money available for bike paths, sidewalk improvements, and other bike/transit/pedestrian projects. Fifty-four percent of the total budget is going to transit, while just under two percent is going to bicycle and pedestrian-oriented initiatives.

But BikeHouston board member Aaron Chang thinks that last number should be much higher. "Pedestrian, bicycle, and livable centers have been severely underfunded," said Chang.  "And we can’t keep looking toward old solutions to tackle new problems that we’re trying to solve right now."

Wang says he and other BikeHouston members are going to Friday’s meeting to make their case against the proposal.

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Florida High-Speed Rail: Talks Ongoing, Gov. Remains Unconvinced

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) With two days left to broker an agreement on high-speed rail in Florida, talks are ongoing -- but Governor Rick Scott remains unconvinced.

The parties -- among them Senator Bill Nelson, the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congressman John Mica, and Congresswoman Corrine Brown -- are keeping it close to the vest.

A spokesperson for Senator Bill Nelson's office would only confirm that talks between the DOT and Florida officials were ongoing -- and that there were no new developments.

Congressman John Mica (R-FL) is in Los Angeles holding hearings on the transportation reauthorization bill. A spokesman didn't return requests for comment.

But Congresswoman Corrine Brown (D-FL) who has been toiling with Mica, Nelson and other members of Florida's congressional delegation to salvage the state's high-speed rail program, has been working the phones and will return to Florida tomorrow for the final push, according to her press secretary, David Simon. An official familiar with the US DOT says "discussions are still ongoing and Friday is still the deadline."

Governor Rick Scott's press office hasn't responded to Transportation Nation queries, but a spokesman did tell the St. Petersburg Times (article here) "Nothing in the discussions so far alleviates the governor's concerns that Florida's state taxpayers would still be on the hook."

Scott last week said he was sending back $2.4 billion in federal funding for high speed rail. He said Florida's $280 million contribution was too risky.

Meanwhile, tonight in Orlando there's a pro-high-speed rail rally, organized by the former Orange County commissioner.

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TN Moving Stories: Oil Prices Up -- As Are Airline Prices, NJ Transit Riders Exhale, and Florida Still Without Top Transpo Official

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A California Democrat introduced a bill that would fire the current members of the board governing California's high-speed rail project and replace them with experts who don't have a financial stake in the undertaking. (Oakland Tribune)

Oahu's $5.5 billion, 21-station rail project has officially broken ground. (Examiner)

Maryland's newest toll road opens to traffic today. "The full cost of the Intercounty Connector - the exchange of woodlands for asphalt; the effects on residents along its path; debt payments that could require raising tolls throughout the state - will be analyzed for years. The immediate question is how opening the first 7.2 miles will affect traffic." (Washington Post)

Higher oil prices send airline fares up. (Dallas Morning News)

NJ Transit riders issue a collective exhale after Governor Christie's budget address yesterday. (Asbury Park Press)

DC's Metro Transit Police Department says that thefts of electronic devices accounted for 76% of all robberies on the Metro in 2010 (Washington Post). So they've created a helpful PSA:

The Brooklyn Paper says that ambulances are no strangers to the Prospect Park West bike lane.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has yet to name the state's top transportation official, but already he has installed the agency's chief of staff, hired its lawyer and pulled the trigger on a major decision to blow up plans for high-speed rail. (St. Petersburg Times)

The Massachusetts woman who lost her boa constrictor on a Boston subway car has been hit with a $650 cleaning bill by the MBTA, which had to "sanitize" the car. (Boston Herald)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: NJ Governor Christie's budget increases transpo funding. Controversy continues over whether a new ring road for Houston is a must -- or a road to nowhere. And opponents of the Prospect Park West bike lane don't want new bike lanes, anywhere in the city.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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NJ Governor Christie's 2012 Budget: Is That A Transpo Increase We See?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Governor Christie delivers his budget address in Trenton, New Jersey

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) New Jersey Governor Christie released his 2012 budget today.  And while nearly every agency took a hit, transportation spending will see an increase in state funding.

The budget also specifies that one of the goals this year is to avoid fare increases and expand bus service. This will be welcomed by New Jersey Transit passengers, who experienced a 22% fare hike last year.

Kate Slevin, the executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign, was cautiously optimistic. "It's good news for transit riders – and drivers as well," she said, adding that more mass transit would help reduce New Jersey's famous traffic congestion.

More later--but in the meantime, you can read the budget below.

NJ Budget FY2012

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Report: State Transpo Systems are Broke AND Broken

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

(Kate Hinds, Transportation Nation) Shrinking funding sources, agencies working at cross purposes, poor decision-making: this could characterize a number of disciplines. But a new Brookings Institution report says that it's endemic in many state transportation systems.

The report comes as planners and construction companies are in an uproar over recent state decisions to halt transportation investments that have been decades in the making.  The most dramatic example of that was Florida Governor Rick Scotts' return of some 2.4  billion to the federal government -- almost all of its funding.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker and Ohio Governor John Kasic recently canceled high speed rail projects and sent more than a billion dollars back to the US DOT.  New Jersey Governor Chris Christie started the recent trend by returning $3 billion that was to have been spent on a transit tunnel under the Hudson River.

Robert Puentes, a senior fellow in Brookings' Metropolitan Policy Program and the author of "State Transportation Reform: Cut to Invest in Transportation to Deliver the Next Economy," writes that a strong state transportation strategy is critical to creating what he calls the "Next Economy."  But, he writes, too often states ignore which transportation investments could achieve the biggest economic payoff.

The report say, states should synchronize the efforts of different agencies, as well as create state infrastructure banks and public/private partnerships.

The full report can be found here (pdf).

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Controversy on the Texas Prairie: Road to Nowhere - or a Must for Houston's Future?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Will a highway cut through Texas' Katy Prairie?

(Houston - Wendy Siegle, KUHF News)  Houston is preparing to complete an 88-mile ring road this weekend -- as controversy continues to simmer around another, even larger ring road that critics say will induce sprawl.  That road, called the Grand Parkway, would cut through the environmentally sensitive Katy prairie (pictured.)

But for now, after 23 years of construction, the final section of the city’s outer beltway, called the Sam Houston Tollway, will be complete come Saturday.

It’s the second road to circle Houston. The first was Loop 610, which was completed in 1976.

Alan Clark, the director of transportation and planning at the Houston-Galveston Area Council, says the final $400 million dollar section will serve the rapidly growing communities in Northeast Harris County. “It should shorten their travel time significantly," he said. "And by that I mean maybe twenty minutes, thirty minutes - it could be even longer.”

But critics argue that it induces suburban sprawl and doesn't fix congestion problems in Houston's denser, more populated areas.

Those arguments are getting even more heated around another concentric road that has only just begun its giant circle around Greater Houston.

It's called the Grand Parkway, and it would be the third road to ring around Houston.  Some want it, some loathe it. It would be a massive 180-mile toll road encircling greater Houston, and it's been part of the city's planning since 1962. Less than thirty miles have been built so far, but 14 more could be added soon. That's because the Texas Department of Transportation recently announced that it expects to have the nearly half -billion dollars it needs to construct the next segment.

With Houston poised to gain 3.5 million people over the next thirty years, proponents of the road say it's a crucial part of the region's transportation system. Critics say the road is superfluous, arguing that the money should be spent to tackle existing congestion problems in places where more people live and commute. But opposition to the road heats up even more over this next segment -- known as "E" -- because it will cut through the environmentally sensitive Katy Prairie, west of Houston.

You can listen to the story - and see a slideshow - at KUHF.

For more on KUHF's coverage of Segment E -- including a look at the route it would take, and reaction from locals and one tenacious environmentalist -- visit here.

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While We Were Nudging the MTA for Data...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Jeremy Soffin, the NYC MTA's chief communications officer, got married.

Congratulations Jeremy, and have a nice honeymoon!

And don't worry, TN readers, we'll keep asking questions.  But maybe we'll give Jeremy a break -- Transportation Nation

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Prospect Park Lane Bike Opponents Support Moratorium on All Bike Lanes

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cars driving on Prospect Park West on Friday around 5:30 pm. A row of parked cars is on the right, to the far right is the two-way bike lane.

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes issued a press release yesterday with this headline:

"Groups Applaud City Council Legislative Package That Seeks to Report Bike and Pedestrian Accidents; Support Alternative PPW Bike Lane Route, Suspension of New Bike Lane Installation; Call for DOT Meeting."

The press release goes on to say:

"Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes (NBBL) and Seniors for Safety today applauded City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, Council Transportation Committee Chair James Vacca and the entire City Council for passing a package of three bills that will, for the first time, report bike and pedestrian accidents. They also support the moratorium, called for by Speaker [Christine] Quinn and Councilman [James]Vacca, on the imposition of new bike lanes until this background data is available online. This is exactly what both groups say was missing on Prospect Park West." (full release after the jump)

But according to city council spokesman Jamie McShane, "neither Speaker Quinn nor Councilman Vacca support a moratorium on bike lane construction."  In fact, McShane said, the question came up at a press conference after the traffic safety bill was passed, and the council specifically rejected the idea of a moratorium on bike lane construction.

NBBL said it had based their press release on their understanding of a news report.

The bill the group was applauding does require the Bloomberg administration to more fully and quickly release data on traffic accidents -- with information on crashes caused by bikes, pedestrians, and cars.  Its heaviest champion was Transportation Alternatives, a pro-bike advocacy group deeply behind the PPW bike lane.

Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes was formed as the two-way protected bike lane along Prospect Park West was being installed last spring. The group, which represents many Prospect Park West residents, has criticized the city for what it sees as insufficient community outreach  and too little data collection before installing the lane.  Its supporters including Brooklyn College Dean Louise Hainline, former Deputy Mayor Norman Steisel, former city DOT Commissioner Iris Weinshall, and her husband, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer.

The city says the lane did go through the local approval process, and was supported by the local community board. Community Board 6 wanted both to provide more space for bikes to ride safely through Park Slope in both directions and reduce traffic speeds along Prospect Park West.   The DOT says by both measures the lane has been a success -- the number of weekday cyclists has tripled, and the number of cars driving over the speed limit has dropped sharply.  Before the lane, it says, three of four vehicles drove over the speed limit, now just one in five does.  The DOT says pedestrian hit by a car driving 40 miles an hour will almost certainly die, but a pedestrian hit by a car driving 30 miles an hour has a two-thirds chance of survival.

The DOT has posted the data on line, but Neighbors for Better Bike Lanes says the data is incomplete, and doesn't give a full picture of what traffic conditions were like before the lane was installed.  Their full release is here.

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TN Moving Stories: Car Sales Jump, Houston Transit Takes $168 Million Hit, and CA HSR Advocates Get Ready for Hearings

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

New and used vehicle sales jumped 20% in 2010 -- making cars the only retail sector to see more than 5% growth. (NPR)

Indianapolis is installing solar-powered parking meters. (Indianapolis Star)

California high-speed rail supporters are turning out this week for transportation hearings headed by John Mica. (Los Angeles Times)

Houston's Metropolitan Transit Authority is preparing to declare that it has spent $168 million on what have turned out to be useless assets -- like rail expansion projects that never will be built or will have to be started over. (Houston Chronicle)

Unrest in Libya prompts a spike in oil prices. (Marketplace)

The Takeaway talks Florida high-speed rail with a Republican State Senator Paula Dockery.

A group of teenagers from Nairobi won a video contest with "Me and My Bike" -- an ode to how bicycles can change the world.

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: opponents of the Park Slope bike lane want a moratorium on future bike lane construction. And the TN documentary "Back of the Bus" is now available to be downloaded--for free--on iTunes.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

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Back of the Bus Now on iTunes

Monday, February 21, 2011

Our Transportation Nation documentary, Back of the Bus, on transit and civil rights is now on iTunes!   Hear Rosa Parks, archival tape of 1968 riots, national experts on transit and civil rights...and lots of riders!  For instructions and to download from iTunes, click here.

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