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Seattle Mayor McGinn Vetoes Tunnel Contracts for Big Dig West
Supports Waterfront Surface Boulevard Alternative
The Mayor of Seattle, Mike McGinn, has vetoed the contracts for the tunnel project that would replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct on the Seattle waterfront. The City Council approved them last week (with only Cit Council Member Mike O'Brian voting against the tunnel), so the mayor's veto sets up a potential showdown. McGinn wants to remove the viaduct and replace it with a surface boulevard similar to what was done on the Embarcadero in San Francisco and in the Lower West Side of New York City. Opponents of the tunnel refer to it as Big Dig West, recalling the cost overruns in Boston. Read the article in The Stranger here.
Read the CNU press release here.
CNU has been helping the People's Waterfront coalition. Cary Moon, who heads the group, has been to past CNU Congresses. To find out more and to help Cary, go to People's Waterfront.
Cities, Conservatives, and the Future of the Country
A Message from John Norquist
Harvard economist Ed Glaeser is recognized as fairly conservative, certainly an enthusiast for market based policies. His new book, Triumph of the City, calls the city man's "greatest invention". He counts the many blessings that come from well planned and well run cities; economic growth, wealth, leisure time, culture, social justice, creativity, invention and more efficient use of resources. He also notes that the Federal and state governments often intervene to help rural areas at the expense of cities. He cites rural electrification, farm price supports, excessive road expansion and most recently rural broadband as examples. NY Times columnist David Brooks praised the book in a recent column.
With these two prominent conservatives opening their eyes to the value of cities it's ironic that the GOP controlled House issued a budget that completely wipes out one of the few Federal programs that actually may be favorable for cities. The HUD/DOT/EPA Sustainability Program is on the chopping block, at least on the House end of the Capitol. Don't get me wrong, economy in government is important. Yet in my view they should start with something big and really wasteful like the war in Afghanistan. I served in the US Army and am no pacifist, but Afghanistan has gone on ten years and is crowding out both public and private investment that can build America's future. Whether you agree with me or not if you want to weigh in, here are links to your Senators, House member and the White House. Let them know how you feel. Want another way to get engaged on the local level? Find your local chapter now. Or if you want to contribute, donate money to CNU today.
Are Cities the "Real America?" Watch Jon Stewart's interview of Edward Glaeser on The Daily Show to find out.
Edward Glaeser was interviewed by Kai Ryssdal about his new book "Triumph of the City, on February 17 on Marketplace.
New urbanist Chris Leinberger was also interviewed on the same show about the value of homes located near transit.
WBEZ featured a look back at the Richard M. Daley administration on the urban fabric of Chicago. Edward Glaeser is quoted as well.
Don't miss Edward Glaeser at CNU 19, June 1-4. Register now.
Cincinnati's Streetcar Struggle
Defeat Cincinnati Issue 9
Despite winning a referendum in 2009 in support of a new streetcar in Cincinnati and securing federal funding to begin construction this year, the streetcar project faces another challenge. Issue 9 would change the city charter so that any rail transit project proposed would require public approval via referendum. This would threaten the current streetcar project and put Cincinnati at a competitive disadvantage for future federal transportation dollars.
Learn more at http://www.cincinnatiansforprogress.com/Home.asp.
Support sensible transit options today!
Don't miss this great Streetfilms video that appeared in Grist about TOD in New Jersey.
Urban Video of the Month
Streetfilms Transit-Oriented Development in New Jersey
Don't miss this great Streetfilms video that appeared in Grist about TOD in New Jersey.
Accreditation Registration Opens March 1
Exam Registration Open Until March 31, 2011
Since June 2009, 309 CNU members have earned Accreditation. Through a partnership with the University of Miami School of Architecture, this program seeks to elevate the practice of the principles of New Urbanism and to develop a premier standard of professional excellence in the design of the built environment. Professionals who meet the requirements of accreditation will be recognized as CNU-Accredited and can be found in the CNU Member Directory (must be logged in to access). The accreditation credential can be used for business identification, reference criteria, and optional credits within the LEED for Neighborhood Development (LEED-ND) rating system.
New Urbanists can take the exam online during three access windows that will be scheduled each year. The next exam access window is scheduled for June 9 - June 23, 2011. Registration for this exam window opens March 1, 2011, and closes March 31, 2011. Visit www.cnu.org/accreditation to register now.
The University of Miami also offers a self-paced online course, titled The Principles and Practice of New Urbanism, which provides preparation for the exam but is not required. Registration for the course is separate from CNU Accreditation registration and is available online at http://nuonline.arc.miami.edu.
For further information and to register for the online exam today, visit www.cnu.org/accreditation.
Diehaus Form-Based Codes Award Call for Submissions
Deadline March 31, 2011
The Call for Submissions for the Form-Based Code Institute's awards program is underway.
This is the award program's fifth year. Accord to the FBCI website, "Form-based codes are a method of regulating development to achieve specific urban form. The codes control physical form, primarily, to create a predictable public realm."
"Entries should be codes intended to guide development consistent with a master plan, and should advance the field of form-based code writing. Submitted codes must be adopted into law by a unit of local government. Submission of codes that show built results and "lessons learned" is encouraged."
For more information, go to www.formbasedcodes.org/call-submissions.
Stop the Big Dig West
Seattle City Council Should Reconsider Tunnel
The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) believes it is time for WSDOT and the Seattle City Council to reconsider the $3.1 billion bored hole tunnel that is slated to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
According to an analysis by Scott Bernstein of the Center for Neighborhood Technology based on recent information by the Seattle DOT, trips by automobile have declined by 6% from 2000 to 2009, while at the same time the population increased by nearly 10%. That equates to 14% fewer trips per capita. In fact, whether you look at the city of Seattle, King County or the Seattle metro as a whole, driving is down even as the population increased.
The reasons for this make sense, as in that same timeframe the city has made more efficient use of its existing network of streets, started light rail service, improved bus and commuter rail service, created better bicycle facilities, made the downtown more pedestrian-friendly, and set a goal of being carbon neutral by 2030. All of this needs to be celebrated!
So why are we spending excessively to build a tunnel to bypass downtown Seattle? Why build a tunnel that encourages more driving? Why build a tunnel that will clog city streets near its entrances? And why build a tunnel that may sacrifice the integrity of historic buildings?
Apparently for a population that wants to drive less and live in a better urban environment. It's senseless, since committing to traffic expansion undercuts the city's world class commitment to tackling climate change. Equally questionable is WSDOT's justification for the $3.1 billion bored tunnel is predicated on forecast increased travel demand, when the evidence indicates otherwise.
Furthermore, these updated traffic statistics vindicate the report prepared by Smart Mobility for the Congress for the New Urbanism and the Center for Neighborhood Technology in 2006 regarding viaduct replacement. This analysis found that strategies which reconnect street networks would result in "disappearing" traffic, a finding that researchers from around the US and around the world have duplicated. Read the Smart Mobility report here: http://www.cnu.org/sites/www.cnu.org/files/SmartMobilityReport.pdf.
The justification for building the bored tunnel is based on traffic projections that are being proven way off. It is increasingly clear that the Seattle region doesn't need, and shouldn't have to pay for, a $3.1 billion tunnel for cars bypassing the urban core. According to Bernstein, "Seattle should stay the course and celebrate its disappearing traffic and replace its viaduct with a waterfront boulevard connected to the street grid and mass transit. This will be a cost-reducing investment that pays permanent dividends."
In Case You Missed It
An Important Message from Victor Dover and John Norquist
Most of you got this important email from CNU earlier this week, but we want to remind you that the issue hasn't gone away. We want to alert you to an impending threat to some relatively small but important programs that are on the chopping block in DC. Yesterday morning NY Times columnist and economist Paul Krugman warned about cuts to programs that can build a stronger future for America. There may be no better example than the attack on Sustainability planning grant programs. These grants fund planning that can save energy and increase productivity in communities across America. Contact your congressperson or senator today.
Upcoming Events on the CNU Event Calendar
More At cnu.org/event/date
SC APA / SC ARC Winter Conference
Wednesday, February 23 - Friday, February 25
Thursday, February 24
What Healthy Communities Need from their Transportation Networks Webinar 3: Health Impact Assessments (HIAS) in Transportation
Tuesday, March 15
Form-Based Economic Development Webinar
Thursday, March 17
CNU New England Sustainable Urbanism Summit
Thursday, March 17 - Friday, March 18
New Haven, CT
See more events or post your own at cnu.org/event/date.
|About the Congress for the New Urbanism|
The Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) is the leading organization promoting regions, cities and towns built around walkable, mixed-use neighborhoods. Learn more.