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Rahm Emanuel

Transportation Nation

Chicago Wants to Pay Diesel Truckers to Swap for Electric Vehicles

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

(photo by Steve Rhode via flickr)

(Lauren Chooljian - Chicago, WBEZ) Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to make a deal with diesel truck owners in the Chicagoland area: give up your truck, and the city will give you a voucher that covers around 60 percent of the cost of a new electric one.

Officials say the project could help with air quality and even quieter streets across the city. By next spring, fleets in Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will counties will be able to apply for the program.

“The city is encouraging companies to invest in electric vehicles in order to incrementally improve Chicago’s air quality while helping to advance these emerging transportation technologies,” Chicago Department of Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein said in a statement. “By offering a voucher at the point of sale, rather than as a post-sale rebate, we hope that more companies will be encouraged to participate in the program.”

But not all drivers are jumping at the chance to trade in their truck. Phil LaPalermo, co-owner of All Ways Paving and Plowing, says he's not sure there's an electrical vehicle out there that can compare to the power of a diesel truck. LaPalermo said he likes the idea of using alternative energy sources, but the diesel engine is what keeps his fleet plowing and paving streets all over the city and suburbs.

"We’re hauling a lot of weight, and we’re making a lot of runs throughout the day. They’re very dependable and you get high mileage. I mean a diesel engine, you could get three to 400 thousand miles on a diesel engine," he said.

Samantha Bingham, CDOT Environmental Policy Analyst, said while the plan might not work for plows or pavement trucks, it would be great for a bakery delivery truck.

"There is no silver bullet when it comes to alternative fuels or traditional fuels," Bingham said.

Chicago Department of Transportation officials said they have enough federal funding to support about 250 vouchers to start. According to Joe Schwieterman, transportation professor from DePaul University, the city would need a couple thousand or so to really make a statistical change on emissions.

"At the same time, I think the city's going to show that we're this Midwest Rust Belt town, and we're gonna adopt technologies that you know other cities in the region aren't doing," Schwieterman said.

City Hall has used federal funding for other green initiatives in the past, including the installment of 202 electric vehicle charging stations.

Listen to the radio story below.

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WNYC News

In Battling Crime, Bloomberg Would 'Love' Suggestions, Rahm Hunts for 'Values'

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Mayors Michael Bloomberg and Rahm Emanuel – both battling fierce crime spikes in their respective cities – have defended their police departments’ practices amid a rash of headline-grabbing violence.

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Transportation Nation

Emanuel Pushes Audacious Plan for Chicago Infrastructure

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, speaking earlier this month (photo by U.S. Army Public Affairs, Midwest)

Fixing infrastructure has bedeviled cash-strapped cities in recent years. Washington has failed to pass a comprehensive surface transportation bill, last summer's debt deal paved the way for spending reductions, Republican governors have cancelled big rail projects, and the public has been generally sour on big spending deals.

With the announcement of a $7 billion infrastructure plan, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is signalling that era may be ending.

"The Mayor's basic premise is he's not going to let the city twist in the wind at the whim of the federal or state governments," said Tom Alexander, an Emanuel spokesman.

With funding from water rate hikes, efficiencies, and --mostly -- private banks setting up an "infrastructure trust" to finance projects, Emanuel plans to fund a $1.4 billion improvement in O'Hare airport, 16 new miles of bus rapid transit, and repair 100 CTA stations.

Also on deck:  $660 million for public schools, 180 new acres of parkland, the replacement of 900 miles of water pipe, and the completion of the Bloomingdale Trail -- the Chicago version of the High Line.

According to the press release:  the program, called Building a New Chicago, "is one of the most comprehensive infrastructure plans in Chicago’s history, involving an unprecedented level of coordination between City Hall, multiple city departments and sister agencies, private sector utilities, and the public."

Other big city mayors, notably New York's Michael Bloomberg and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have championed big infrastructure projects.  Mayor Bloomberg is a co-founder of Building America's Future, a pro-infrastructure lobbying group. But neither mayor has the extensive control of Mayor Emanuel, who runs the transit system, schools, and water infrastructure. In New York, for example the MTA is run by the state.

"A lot of American cities are focused on what's happening in Chicago," said Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. "There's nothing really like this -- we don't know all of what this is -- but there is so much interest.  I really expect other cities to replicate it if it's a success."

The Mayor's office hasn't fully explained all the financing, but in one part of the plan, major banks including JP Morgan Chase and Citibank are investing in more energy-efficient buildings.  Those efficiencies will be used to produce savings, which in turn can be used to pay back the investors.

Marcia Hale, president of Building America's Future, praised Emanuel's plan, and called out the Senate for passing a transportation bill "that would erect barriers to states and cities seeking to collaborate with the private sector."  (The Senate bill has not passed the House; on Thursday, both houses of Congress passed a 90-day extension of the existing bill, the ninth such extension.)

Chicago has not fully laid out the details of its financing plan, other than to say it won't rely on tax hikes.

The city did release a video explanation of the plan:

Here's the full  release:

Mayor Emanuel today announced a $7 billion, three year infrastructure program, Building a New Chicago, which is one of the largest investments in infrastructure in the City’s history.  The program will touch nearly every aspect of the city’s infrastructure network and create more than 30,000 jobs over the next three years.

“Whether it is renewing our parks or repairing our pipes, repaving our roads or rebuilding our rails, retrofitting our buildings or revitalizing our bridges, we must restore Chicago’s core,” said Mayor Emanuel. “Our plans are comprehensive because our needs are comprehensive -- because no city in America relies on its infrastructure more than Chicago.  While our infrastructure challenges are not unique, our resolve and determination to see them through is. I look forward to rebuilding our city’s infrastructure so we may continue to lead in the 21st century.”

Mayor Emanuel made the announcement at Chicagoland Laborers’ Training and Apprentice Center, in the city’s Austin neighborhood.

The investments will not require increases in taxes. Many of the projects are paid for through reforms, efficiencies, cuts in central offices, direct user fees, and the recently announced Chicago Infrastructure Trust. 

The improvements in Building a New Chicago will include:

  • Renovation, repair, or rebuilding of more than 100 CTA stations
  • The creation of the first 16 miles of Bus Rapid Transit Route on Jeffrey Boulevard, with future routes being developed for the Central Loop.
  • A $1.4 billion investment in O’Hare airport over the next three years, creating 5,900 jobs, including opening two new runways by 2015.
  • A five-year, $290 million capital plan for the City’s parks  that will include the acquisition of 180 new acres of parklands, and the building of 20 new playgrounds and 12 new parks.
  • The 2014 completion of the Bloomingdale trail.
  • The completion of two new boathouses this year on the Chicago River, with two new boathouses next year.
  • The replacement of 900 miles of century-old water pipe, the repair of 750 miles of sewer line, and the reconstruction of 160,000 catch-basins.
  • The reform of the Aldermanic Menu, and tax increment financing, so that these tools better match the city’s infrastructure needs.
  • A $660 million investment in Chicago Public Schools, and a $479 million investment in the City Colleges of Chicago, to create modern educational environments that will propel our students into the jobs of tomorrow.
  • “Retrofit Chicago,” a $225 million dollar effort to retrofit City buildings, reducing their energy consumption by 25 percent and creating 900 jobs in the next three years, the first project funded by the Chicago Infrastructure Trust.

Building a New Chicago brings a new level of coordination to the City’s capital investment process, maximizing efficiency, stretching scarce resources and minimizing impacts on residents.

The full speech, as prepared for delivery, is attached here.

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Transportation Nation

Chicago Approves Big Bucks for BRT

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WBEZ's Chip Mitchell reports that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is steering $7.3 million towards a long promised bus rapid transit route downtown where half of commuters currently travel by bus. As we reported at the time of his election, Emanuel's transportation plan is largely a transit plan filled with bold promises for intelligent transportation systems.

WBEZ on the latest BRT announcement:

"Emanuel’s mayoral transition plan last year promised a “full bus rapid transit pilot” within three years. The pilot, according to the plan, will include “dedicated bus lanes, signal preemption, prepaid boarding or on-board fare verification, multiple entry and exits points on the buses, limited stops, and street-level boarding.”

"The Chicago Department of Transportation is keeping lips tight about its design of the downtown line, known as both the “East-West Transit Corridor” and “Central Loop BRT.” It’s not clear the design will include many of the timesavers listed in Emanuel’s plan. A CDOT plan announced in 2010 would remove cars from some traffic lanes, rig key stoplights to favor the buses, improve sidewalks, install bicycle lanes and build specially branded bus stops equipped with GPS-powered “next bus” arrival signs.

Chicago is also slated to get $24.6 million in federal money for the BRT plan. For details on the route and other bus upgrades, go to WBEZ.

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Transportation Nation

Chicago, New York to Make Snow Plow Locations Live During Storms

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

A NYC plow working after the post-Christmas blizzard. Azi Paybarah/WNYC

Mayors of both Chicago and New York said Tuesday they'd be making the locations of snow plows public during winter storms via public websites that will show GPS tracking information.

While the idea of a snowplow tracker isn't new -- it exists in Montgomery County and Howard County, Maryland, just to name a couple -- New York and Chicago would be the first major cities to deploy this technology.

Mayor Bloomberg hit once of the lowest moments of his mayoralty last winter when New York ground to a halt during the blizzard of 2010. It was particularly frustrating for outer-borough residents when streets outside of Manhattan went unplowed for days (while the Mayor recommended they take in a Broadway show.)

Also galling: city officials were increasingly unable to tell members of the public (or even elected officials) when streets would be cleared.

In an information vacuum, WNYC developed a plowed street tracker, based on crowd-sourced information. Later, Mayor Bloomberg promised to add GPS to all snow plows. But that information wasn't made available to the public. Yet.

Enter Chicago, where Mayor Rahm Emanuel (who wasn't even in office last winter),  a notorious type-A techno-geek, announced with some fanfare Tuesday that city would set up a Plow Tracker. "During major snow cleanup efforts," according to a press release, " the City will activate the real-time 'Plow Tracker' map, allowing the public to track the progress of City snow plows and make snow removal efforts more transparent."

Looks like Emanuel may have upstaged Bloomberg (himself something of a type A techno-geek)

Asked at a press conference (on an unrelated subject) Tuesday whether New York would be making snow plow location information available on a public website, Mayor Bloomberg said:

"Yeah, we have a whole plan we'll get you very quickly.  We've been enhancing what we do.  I don't know that it necessarily improves our ability to plow. We have the routes and we're gonna do it, but it does let you see where plows went and when they went there, and that's all. Our best thing so far is my strategy so far. Look outside - streets are clean, no snow."

While Chicago's website is now live (www.cityshovels.org), New York City officials cautioned that it's not yet clear what the New York website will look like, or when it will be up and running.

 

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Transportation Nation

Whose Bike Share is Biggest?

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel is joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to Announce Tiger Grants (photo: Chicago Mayor's Office)

In a conference call Thursday announcing transportation grants, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood crowed that “In the Chicago area, $10 million will go to bike share, the mayor has a vision to create the largest bike share program in the country, and the other $10 million in Chicago goes to the Blue Line.”

But, um....that's not exactly right.  Chicago's bike share will be the second biggest. Which, we guess, is appropriate for the second city.

According to its request for proposals, Chicago will start with 3000 bikes, and expand to 5000.  New York is starting with 10,000.

A LaHood spokesman, Justin Nisly, clarifies that the Secretary meant Mayor Rahm Emanuel wants to build the biggest bike share.

And, yes Emanuel has a big place in Ray LaHood's heart (Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) credits Emanuel, the former White House Chief of Staff, with LaHood's appointment.)

But does Emanuel want the biggest bike share more than New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants the biggest bike share?  (Bloomberg is also not exactly a shrinking violet.)

No word from either Chicago or New York officials on that one.

We'll say this for Chicago.   New York had about a year and a half between the announcement of the bike share and the projected launch date. Chicago?  Half that time.  So that city may have the fastest bike share to get up and running.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Highway Bill Vote This Week, E.U. Bans Airport Body Scanners, Detroit's Buses Get an 'F'

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Where -- and when -- did transit over the Tappan Zee Bridge go? (Link)

The New York MTA and the Transit Workers Union opened contract negotiations. (Link)

As police cleared Zuccotti Park, bicyclists helped reinforce Occupy Wall Street protesters. (Link)

The Capitol (photo by Skibum 415 via Flickr)

The House is almost ready to vote on a highway bill. (The Hill)

And: lawmakers say the FAA bill will be ready to go by the end of the month. (Politico)

There are more vehicles on the roads in the DC area -- but more of them are passenger cars, not SUVs. (Washington Post)

One road in London is doing away with curbs and sidewalks in an effort to be more pedestrian-friendly. (Good)

Montreal unveiled a $16.8 billion plan to increase transit ridership, but funding it is going to be a problem. (Montreal Gazette)

Back in the day, new MTA head Joe Lhota wanted City Hall to control the city's transit system. (New York Times)

The Illinois state legislature signed off on Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s call for speed cameras near schools and parks. (WBEZ)

A transit advocacy group says half of Detroit's buses are either late or don't arrive at all. (Detroit Free Press)

WNYC looks at the economic benefits of hydrofracking.

The Canadian government ruled out federal funding for a high-speed rail line between Windsor and Quebec. (The National Post)

The European Union banned U.S.-style body scanner machines in European airports. (ProPublica)

A bike room grows in lower Manhattan.  (New York Times)

How many riders must high-speed rail attract to offset the construction emissions? (Atlantic Cities)

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Transportation Nation

Rahm Emanuel Rides Transit During Zombie Apocalypse

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

 

(photo courtesy of Chicago Mayor's Office Facebook page)

Well, what else would you do? Traffic on Lake Shore Drive is murder.

No word on whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel was heading off to trick-or-treat. But it looks like he has the zombie vote locked up.

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Private Money Unlikely for California Bullet Train, Map Shows Who Swipes What NYC MetroCard Where

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Amtrak carried a record 30 million passengers. (Link)

Royals use bike share, too. (Link)

California is offering a ticket amnesty program. (Link)

 

A sculpture along a North Carolina trail, paid for by the state's transportation enhancement program (photo by Hagarjr via Flickr)

Private money for California's high-speed rail project looks unlikely, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority -- at least until the line begins operating. (Los Angeles Times)

The Senate will vote today on a John McCain-sponsored amendment that would eliminate the beautification requirement spending in federal highway funding. (The Hill, Politico)

Maryland's two largest counties and Baltimore want the state to raise the gas tax to pay for transportation projects. (Baltimore Sun)

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel -- transit user and supporter of bike share programs -- is the "anti-Daley." (Atlantic Cities)

Subway swipe data shows where riders most often use senior discounts, unlimited passes and pay-per-ride MetroCards. Bonus: interactive map! (Wall Street Journal)

NYC wants to convert 21 on-street parking spaces into a "mini park" on one traffic-clogged Hell's Kitchen street. (DNA Info)

Drivers with expired registration will no longer be arrested in DC. (WAMU)

Transit advocate Gene Russianoff offers some advice for a new NY MTA head: slash borrowing, resurrect congestion pricing, and urge the governor to sign the lockbox bill. (NY Daily News)

If the bad economy is part of the reason Amtrak's attracting riders, what happens when there's a turnaround? (Marketplace)

"Green" policies don't benefit the lower middle class. (Slate)

Colorado will use police cars as pace cars to try to speed ski traffic along a highway. (Denver Post)

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN MOVING STORIES: Car, Truck Sales Up; Perry Dogged by Trans-Texas Corridor

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Top stories on TN:

Transit ridership is up in 2011. (Link)

FAA workers will get back pay for this summer's shutdown. (Link)

(photo by Kate Hinds)

Following Transportation Nation story, Politico says, yeah, Rick Perry's campaign could be sidetracked by the Trans-Texas Corridor. (Politico).

Car sales soared for GM and Chrysler...(Los Angeles Times)

...and Hyundai's benefiting from an ad campaign that plays into people's worries about the economy. (NPR)

AND sales of trucks and SUVs are up. (AP via Boston.com)

Meanwhile: Ford, UAW reach tentative agreement. (Detroit Free Press)

Some Chinese are questioning whether infrastructure growth is worth a tradeoff for safety. (Marketplace)

NY's MTA said it will increase service on the L train after one politician said it has not kept pace with the line’s “meteoric” increase in ridership. (DNA Info)

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel held an 'aviation summit.' (Chicago Sun Times)

Chicago bicyclists can now be ticketed for biking while texting or talking on cell phones. (Chicago Sun Times)

Lobbyists for the Trans-Canada pipeline and staffers from the State Department appeared to have a cozy email relationship. (NY Times)

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Transportation Nation

Chicago To Roll Out Bike Share In Summer 2012

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A bike lane being built in Chicago, June 2011 (photo courtesy of Chicago Bicycle Program)

 

UPDATED 4:37PM:   In an ambitious move, the Chicago Department of Transportation announced today it would have bike share up and running by next summer, with 3,000 bikes and 300 stations.  Another 2,000 bikes would be added in summer 2014.

In its  RFP, the city said initial funding for the program will come from federal grants, and the "program will be self-sustaining through member and user fees, as well as advertising and sponsorship." Responses to the RFP are due on October 25.

That's a furious pace compared to New York, which issued an RFP last November and announced the vendor last week. New York's program, with 10,000 bikes and 600 stations, will also be up and running next summer.

The Chicago story was first broken by the Chicago Sun-Times, which said,

“Chicago would have 3,000 bicycles to rent from 300 stations by next summer — with no charge for the first 30 minutes — under an ambitious plan, announced Wednesday, aimed at making cycling a “new transit option….Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Transportation Commissioner Gabe Klein are looking for an operator to offer 3,000 bikes at 300 stations by next summer and 5,000 bikes at 500 stations by 2014.”

Shortly afterwards, Klein tweeted out the response "Yes!!" to the tweets: "some big bike sharing news coming out of Chicago today," and then RT: Is that true?

These are heady days for urban bike share programs.  Boston's bike share, Hubway, launched in July.  On Tuesday, DC's Capital Bikeshare turned one year old -- and hit its one millionth ride.

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel -- himself a bike rider and a transit-user -- has consistently said he wanted a bike share program.

 

 

 

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: NJ Transit Taking Corporate Naming Bids, Metro Detroit Must Integrate Transit -- Or Else, and Rahm Emanuel: Power Bicyclist

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

(robotbrainz/Flickr)

NJ Transit is taking corporate bids for naming its stations, terminals, and trains -- and one bidder is crying foul. (The Star-Ledger)

If regional Detroit can't agree on an integrated rail and bus system, they risk losing millions in federal dollars -- and what may be "our last, best opportunity." (Detroit Free Press)

Mayor Bloomberg floated a new plan to expand taxi service in the outer boroughs by setting up hundreds of stands where livery cabs could legally pick up passengers on the street. (Wall Street Journal)

US DOT head Ray LaHood went to New Orleans for the groundbreaking of their streetcar expansion project. (Fast Lane)

Is texting while driving as dangerous as we think -- and is a ban the right way to prevent it? (The Takeaway)

Delta is scrambling to do damage control after charging a group of U.S. soldiers returning home from deployment in Afghanistan $200 each for extra bags. (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)

It took two years to plan for parking at the upcoming US Open in Bethesda. (WAMU)

Chicago will get protected bike lanes, and Rahm Emanuel bikes 25 miles on weekends. (Chicago Sun-Times)

97 degrees in Minneapolis = Twin Cities highway damage. (Boing Boing)

A dancing traffic cop has become a sensation in Manila. (BBC News video)

Owning a Harley-Davidson in China is a status symbol for a small slice of the aspirational Chinese consumer. (Marketplace)

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: Amtrak Ridership Continues to Grow, SF Eyes Taxi Rate Hike, and LaHood Attends Emanuel Inauguration

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

City Limits takes a long look at Iris Weinshall, former NYC transportation commissioner, bike lane opponent, and wife of Senator Schumer.

Amtrak posted its biggest April ridership numbers in its history. (AltTransport)

San Francisco may raise taxi cab rates "to heights unseen in any other part of the nation." (AP via Sacramento Bee)

Some scientists are casting doubt on the radiation dose delivered by the TSA's body scanners. (ProPublica)

Ray LaHood attended Rahm Emanuel's inauguration; says Chicago's new mayor is sending a team to DC to talk transportation priorities. (AP via Chicago Tribune)

The Hill reports that the Senate is set to vote today on the Democrats' bill that would cut the tax breaks received by the big five oil companies.

A Manhattan community board gets behind the idea of a car-free Central Park. (DNA Info)

Two towns that protested the effects of the widening of the New Jersey Turnpike have begun spending the millions awarded them for the loss of forested land. (The Times of Trenton)

Ottawa's bike share program begins this week. (Ottawa Citizen)

Pedicabs in New York must now obey motor vehicle law. (Wall Street Journal)

A move is afoot to get London to adopt a cycle map based on the iconic Tube map. (Fast Company)

Simon Parker's London cycle map

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter.

In case you missed it on Transportation Nation:

-- Fernando Ferrer named to NY MTA board (link)

-- baby born on Verrazano Bridge (link)

-- a new report says essential urban infrastructure is disintegrating rapidly (link)


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Transportation Nation

Emanuel's Transition Report: More Bikes, BRT, Transit, Safety

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation)  Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel is out with his transition report, and it's got lots to dig into for transpo addicts:  proposals for more street safety (p 29), where pedestrian safety actually comes before street patrols (p 30), for a "world-class" bike network (p 37), more high quality public space (p 40),  and, under a section called "OUR GROWTH,"  calls to "improve and expand Chicago's transit system...develop bus rapid transit, support transit-oriented development" and " accelerate infrastructure projects that are critical to regional growth."

What do you think?

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Transportation Nation

Schumer Caught on Tape: Xanadu Mall Money Should Have Gone to ARC

Monday, May 09, 2011

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood with Rep. Jerrold Nadler (left) and Senators Charles Schumer and Frank Lautenberg (far right) (Photo: Jim O'Grady/WNYC)

WNYC's Jim O'Grady caught this exchange on tape this morning as pols were gathering at Ray LaHood's high speed rail presser at New York's Penn Station -- (Transportation Nation)

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer, U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg, NYC MTA Chair Jay Walder, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Chief Chris Ward, U.S. Rep. Jerrold Nadler.

Schumer: Hey, good to see you!  Mr. Walder, Mr. Secretary, how are you? Chris!

Ward: Senator!

Schumer: How we doing on the, um, Xanadu? I'm very interested in seeing (inaudible) teasing her, and I said the money should have gone to the ARC.

[Schumer was referring to NJ Governor Chris Christie's decision last week to put hundreds of million of dollars of public funding behind a private mall project -- after killing a $9 billion transit tunnel under the Hudson last fall.]

Lautenberg: Yeah well, there wasn't --

Schumer: Didn't they put state money into Xanadu?

Lautenberg:  No. (Inaudible) We're doing good and we're on a mic, so I, uh -- do not feel free to express yourself.  Our Governor is not here, I take it.

Schumer: No.

[The funding is, strictly speaking, Tax Increment Financing,  or TIF meaning sales tax revenue goes straight to finance the project. So it's accurate to say its not state funding -- on the other hand, sales tax would ordinarily go to funding all of a state's needs, just not necessarily building a private mall.]

Lautenberg: He was not invited. (Inaudible) That's why I shut the microphone down.

Lautenberg: [To LaHood, a former Republican Congress member from Peoria] You -- you're the best thing that happened. First of all -- when they said it was going to be a Republican taking this job, I thought we had a Democrat who later on thought he was a Republican.

Schumer: No, he gets along with everybody. You know who pushed for him? Rahm Emanuel.

LaHood: He did. Are we ready?

[Schumer was also recently caught chatting with aides before a conference call -- the New York Times story on that is here.]

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Transportation Nation

BREAKING: Rahm Emanuel Names DC's Gabe Klein as Chicago Transpo Chief

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

File Photo: Gabe Klein in Washington, D.C.  (Photo: DDOT)

(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) Transportation Nation has learned that Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has picked his transportation chief. Gabe Klein, former head of Washington D.C.'s Department of Transportation, will become the commissioner of the Chicago Department of Transportation in mid-May. An announcement is expected later this morning.

Klein tells Transportation Nation that he hopes to build on the innovative programs that were put in place in Washington, D.C. and transform Chicago into a world class transportation city. During his tenure, D.C. launched a bikeshare program, expanded bike lanes and installed several electric car charging stations.

As we've reported here before, Rahm Emanuel, the former White House chief of staff, is largely supportive of public transit, is a cyclist himself, and has said he wants to build 100 miles of new bike lanes during his first term.

His transportation plan when running for mayor was, in essence, a transit plan. Emanuel also impressed local transit and transportation activists with his interest in the topic and detailed knowledge of the issues including having a specific favorite bike-lane design.

Now Chicago has a pro-bike, pro-transit pair in charge of transportation policy.

UPDATE: Several other Emanuel appointments were also announced today, including the head of the Chicago Transit Authority.

Follow Transportation Nation on Twitter for more breaking news.

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Transportation Nation

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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The Takeaway

Rahm Emanuel, Chicago's New Mayor

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Rahm Emanuel won 55 percent of the vote to become Chicago's next mayor, ending the 22-year run of Richard M. Daly.The former congressman is best known for being President Obama's chief of staff. Some thought that there would need to be a run-off, but Jim Warren, Chicago columnist for The New York Times didn't think so. "He simply outworked everybody else," Warren says. And he combined that with a top-notch staff and significant advantage in resources, raising $12 million. His ties to President Obama also helped him be a bit of a celebrity. However, like in many cities, there is a huge deficit facing Chicago and Emanuel may have to face off against the unions; the teacher's union contract may be up first.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: TX Transpo $ "in Crisis," Car Poolers Disappear, and How To Plow Your Driveway...With Your Bike

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Where are the car poolers? The percentage of workers who car-pool has dropped by almost half since 1980. (New York Times)

More ARC tunnel casualties: a week before Governor Christie froze construction on the ARC Tunnel, the Port Authority paid $95.5 million to rent a Manhattan waterfront parcel officials said was critical to the commuter-rail project. (NJ Record)   Also: Stewart International Airport was supposed to be the long-sought fourth major airport to serve the New York metropolitan area. But the lack of a rail link has made its future unclear. (NY Times)

The chairman of the Texas House Transportation Committee says that transportation funding in that state is in "a crisis." (AP via the Houston Chronicle)

Calling it "another arrow in our automotive safety quiver," Ray LaHood visits a company that's working on an alcohol-detection prototype that uses automatic sensors to instantly gauge a driver's fitness to be on the road. (AP via NPR)

Officials in Alaska say that climate change is hurting that state's infrastructure. (Fairbanks Daily News-Miner)

Rahm Emanuel wants to expand Chicago's bike network. (Chicago Sun-Times)

Sources say NY Governor Cuomo will propose a reduction in MTA funding - but he doesn't want to trigger an increase in what riders pay to ride the subway, buses and commuter trains. (NY Daily News)

Despite growing tea party opposition to high-speed train proposals, Republican Bill Shuster, the new chair of the House railroad subcommittee, told a group of New England political leaders that he supports the proposed $1 billion New Haven-to-Springfield line, envisioning it as part of a high-speed rail network that would link Boston, Montreal, Manhattan, Albany and Washington, D.C. (Hartford Courant)

NYC manufacturer for NYC bike share? Ever since New York City started asking for proposals for a citywide bike-share program in November, a small bike factory in Queens has been trying to get noticed. "A contract for 10,000 or more bikes for New York City's program would be a huge boost for the small company, and would mean hiring more welders, painters, assemblers and packers for the Queens plant." But can they compete against BIXI? (Crain's NY Business)

What counts as an alternative form of transportation at Portland State University? The car. (OregonLive.com)

How to plow your driveway...with your bike. (Gothamist)

Top Transportation Nation stories we're following: DC bike sharing: it's not just for tourists. The NY State Senate majority leader made some enigmatic comments about transportation funding. And over a dozen members of Congress descended upon Grand Central to talk about high-speed rail in the Northeast.

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Transportation Nation

TN Moving Stories: New York Pols Line Up for High-Speed Rail, Ford Posts Profit, and First Electric Smart Car Arrives In U.S.

Friday, January 28, 2011

At least the bike will be easier to dig out than the car behind it (Kate Hinds)

Dozens of passengers spent the night huddled in subway cars after the snowstorm that blanketed the northeast stranded their train in Brooklyn's Coney Island station.  But hey, that's better than the time when trains were stuck on the tracks for hours on end with no means of egress! (AP via Wall Street Journal)

Meanwhile, the MTA's web site was inaccessible to many Thursday morning as 500,000 users tried to log on at once to find out about storm-related mass transit disruptions but were unable to load the site. (WNYC)

A federal judge in St. Paul ruled Thursday that Central Corridor light-rail planners failed to analyze how construction of the 11-mile transit line would affect businesses in the corridor. (Minnesota Public RadioNote: For more on Rondo, check out TN's documentary Back of the Bus: Mass Transit, Race and Inequality

The first electric Smart car has arrived in the U.S. (Wired/Autopia)

New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, a self-described "aggressive" supporter of high-speed rail, talks about Thursday's congressional hearing--and why he's so optimistic. "This was major. Think about it -- you have a chairman of a House committee, he's a Republican from Florida, who already has high-speed rail moving in his state, here, having his first hearing of the year, in New York City, to talk about how important high-speed rail is to the Northeast Corridor...it's a major happening for this initiative." Watch the video below, or go to Capital Tonight.

Toll-takers on the Golden Gate Bridge would be eliminated in September 2012 under a plan approved Thursday by the district's finance committee. (Marin Independent Journal)

Following six fatal bicycle/car collisions in six months, Tampa is deciding whether to adopt a Bicycle Safety Plan. (ABC News)

Tweets of the day, via WNYC's Azi Paybarah, who's listening in to Mayor Bloomberg's weekly radio show: "everyone was in favor of this" @mikebloomberg says of congestion pricing." and "Shelly [Silver]'s plan was to toll all the bridges" says @mikebloomberg of the Assembly Speaker." 

Metro officially names a new director. (WAMU)

Ford says it earned $6.6 billion in 2010, its highest profit in more than a decade. (AP via NPR)

Top Transportation Nation stories that we're following: The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure held a hearing on high-speed rail in the Northeast yesterday; chair John Mica said 70% of all chronically delayed flights originate in New York's airspace. The takeaway: paring down short-hop flights in the Northeast will have a positive ripple effect nationally. Meanwhile, planners want NYC's airports to expand, saying that more capacity to handle more flights is desperately needed. Also: the chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey explained why doing big things in America has become so difficult, and Chicago mayoral hopeful Rahm Emanuel released his transportation plan--which, as it turns out, is a transit plan.

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