Treasury Focuses on Revitalizing America’s Cities
On July 7, 2011 the U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted a symposium to discuss economic revitalization through investment in community development financial institutions (CDFIs). The event was a partnership between the Treasury’s Community Development Financial Institutions Fund and Living Cities, and the focus was on the role of CDFIs in the Living Cities Integration Initiative. The CDFI Fund supports financial institutions that provide loans, investments, and technical assistance to underserved communities. Since its creation has awarded $1.11 billion to community development organizations and financial institutions. It has awarded allocations of New Markets Tax Credits, which will attract private-sector investments totaling $26 billion, including $1 billion of special allocation authority to be used for the recovery and redevelopment of the Gulf Opportunity Zone.Living Cities is a collaborative of 22 of the world’s largest foundations and financial institutions who are working to revitalize American cities. The Integration Initiativewill provide $85 million in grants, below-market interest rate loans and commercial debt to spur public-private partnerships in Baltimore, MD, Cleveland, OH, Detroit, MI, Newark, NJ, and the Twin Cities region of Minneapolis and St. Paul, MN. In each community, the public, private, non-profit, and philanthropic sectors have agreed to tackle critical issues impeding access of low-income residents to education, housing, health care, transit, and jobs
Transit cuts could hit north metro area hard
With a deal struck to end the state government shutdown and a special legislative session looming, Metro Transit is bracing for what the final budget might mean for metro bus service.Legislators will decide on a final figure for transit funding, between the governor’s zero cuts and the most severe scenario, a two-year proposal that includes $109 million in cuts to the agency’s general fund.Over the past several weeks, transit planners say, they have been hoping for the best but planning for the worst.With lower ridership than other areas, the north metro could be hit hard by a contingency plan to cut service by as much as 25 percent metrowide. The worst-case scenario Metro Transit shared this month would eliminate most local service and some commuter routes in the area of Champlin, Anoka, Coon Rapids and most of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center.
St. Croix bridge bill to get hearing
A bill sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to start a process that would exempt a proposed bridge across the St. Croix River from the protection of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act will get its first hearing July 28.The bill will be heard by the National Parks subcommittee of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, according to the hearing schedule. The bill will be among 12 heard by the panel.A four-lane, $690 million bridge that would cross the St. Croix from Hwy. 36 in Oak Park Heights to St. Croix County in Wisconsin has been debated for years. It would replace the 80-year-old Lift Bridge in downtown Stillwater.
Judge Gearin not likely to restart transportation, construction projects
Ramsey County Chief Judge Kathleen Gearin didn’t leave much hope for Minnesota’s stalled construction and transportation projects after hearing arguments from two lawmakers and a contractors association Wednesday .Republican Rep. Michael Beard and Sen. Joe Gimse, chairmen of their chambers’ transportation committees, argued before Gearin that she reconsider her June 29 ruling which deemed most transportation construction a “non-essential” state service. The two lawmakers said they appeared before Gearin as “private citizens” with an “extraordinary understanding” of transportation issues. “We are taking this upon ourselves as our civic duty,” Beard said in his opening remarks.
Region could team up with developers to lure stimulus funding
Private developers are being given a voice in deciding the region’s next big targets for development around transit stations as the region’s planning board seeks to attract federal stimulus dollars. A proposal before the Transportation Planning Board asks for approval to apply for roughly $20 million in TIGER grants to pay for streetscaping and making the land around underused transit stations more accessible for pedestrians and bicyclists.If approved on Wednesday, the region’s planning board would then seek developers as partners in identifying up to six transit stations that are good candidates for transit-oriented development to nominate for funding.
Light rail station: Roosevelt wants even more shops, housing
Seattle’s Roosevelt neighborhood leaders pushed Sound Transit to locate its light-rail station in the commercial district – but the arguments over the station aren’t finished. Now they’re about how much development should occur around it, or even on top of it.Instead of fighting development, some leaders are trying to get more of it.Sound Transit says current zoning regulations limit development at the site. The agency has proposed a single-story, above-ground station structure with entrances near the ends.Others, however, are questioning this, saying the station should include more housing, retail space or other amenities to make the neighborhood more attractive.
Building America’s Future Responds to Chairman Mica’s Reauthorization Proposal
Yesterday, U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica hosted a briefing for infrastructure and transportation stakeholders on his proposal to reauthorize the surface transportation program. This plan, which originally expired in September 2009, is set to expire again in September 2011. In his outlined proposal, Chairman Mica called for a six-year bill funded at approximately $230 billion which is $56 billion less than the previous bill.
Portland Approves Plan For New Light Rail Line
The Portland City Council has approved a plan to raise several million dollars for a new light rail line and a few other transportation projects.The city is short on transportation funding, but wants the new light rail line to link four important places: OHSU and Portland State on the West side, and Portland Community College and the science museum on the East Side. So council voted to create a new funding district encompassing all four of the priority areas. Whenever a business or homeowner in the district makes improvements that will generate more traffic, they’ll pay a fee.
One rich guy’s unending war on light rail
Kemper Freeman, Bellevue mall developer, threw his financial weight behind the latest Tim Eyman initiative. Freeman put up $1.1 million of the $1.2 million used to gather signatures for Eyman’s Initiative 1125. Safe to say, without Freeman’s money, this year there would be no Eyman initiative.The measure is mostly about tolls, which makes it timely and probably also popular. But one small section is about something else. It seeks to prevent Sound Transit from building the Eastside leg of light rail across the Interstate 90 bridge.”That would be the result, yes,” said Eyman when I asked whether I-1125 would kill the Eastside rail plan. “If light rail wants to go across the lake, they could still do it, but they’d have to build their own bridge. They couldn’t be on I-90. They can’t take away car lanes.”
Transportation for America’s Review of Deficient Bridges
Considering how hot the issue of transportation funding (or lack thereof) has become, it is almost impossible not to see or hear something on this topic daily. That being said, Transportation for America has provided a new way for us to fixate on the state of disrepair of our nation’s bridges – an interactive map.