All the news that’s fit for you (IV)

17 11 2009

“Planners and transit buffs routinely make the case that Bay Area residents can reap benefits by living close to their jobs and the errands of the day.  Now comes a study that translates the payoff into dollars and cents – such as how the average San Francisco household spends roughly $500 less on transportation each month than households in such suburban outposts as Antioch or Livermore…Much of the text restates a case made many times before: that there’s a disconnect in the region between where people work and where people live, resulting in a squeeze on working-class families who must either endure long commutes or endure exorbitant housing prices”:

How Exurban Development helped bring down the US Economy; New research about the recession has also bolstered one of transit’s central premises — that highway-driven sprawl is bad for a city’s economic health. Recent studies at the University of Utah, for example, concluded that foreclosure rates in the Washington area were much lower in counties served by the Metro rail system, compared with the next ring of counties farther out, and that home prices in Phoenix had also fallen in direct proportion to the distance from downtown”: plus

“If we are going to spend billions rehabbing the highways, shouldn’t we, at the same time, invest in adjacent rail lines like the 800-mile high-speed rail system voters approved last year in California.  The corridors are also perfectly suited for the transportation of energy. Power generated from rural wind farms and solar plants could run through lines buried under the highways to big cities where electricity is needed. The plug-in hybrid vehicles that will someday use the highways could charge up from this grid. And when left idling, these cars would also be able to supply power back to the grid at times of peak demand, while their owners work or shop by the roadside”:

“Americans that have visited Europe or Asia have likely experienced modern high speed rail systems…Will our system look anything like these? The answer, as transportation wonks already know, is no. Even the $8 billion appropriated by the stimulus is a small portion of the funds required to implement even a portion of Obama’s plan. This became painfully obvious at a briefing sponsored by the Rappaport Institute I attended recently, where Federal Railway Administration Administrator Karen Rae described how they viewed the $8 billion a modest sum to invest strategically in the rail network, sometimes for trains running well below Obama’s 100 mph goal”:

“In Norwood Ohio, locals refer to the day the last Camaro rolled off the assembly line of the General Motors plant as Black Wednesday. It was 1987, and 4,000 people in the city of 22,000 lost their jobs, while the 3 million sq. ft. plant that had pumped life into the city since 1923 lapsed into vacancy and neglect…On the brink of economic disaster, city leaders were desperate for solutions…“In the long run — best thing that ever happened,” says Mayor Williams of the plant closure…Belvedere’s $100 million Central Parke project launched a metamorphosis of the city, from a blue-collar, factory-driven locale to a town with elegant workspaces”:

“One thing this massive failure has made possible is ability to come up with radical ideas for the city, and potentially to even implement some of them. Places like Flint and Youngstown might be attracting new ideas and moving forward, but it is big cities that inspire the big, audacious dreams. And that is Detroit. Its size, scale, and powerful brand image are attracting not just the region’s but the world’s attention. It may just be that some of the most important urban innovations in 21st century America end up coming not from Portland or New York, but places like Youngstown and, yes, Detroit”:

“Chrysler has disbanded the engineering team that was trying to bring three electric models to market as a rush job, Automotive News reports today. Chrysler cited its devotion to electric vehicles as one of the key reasons why the Obama administration and Congress needed to give it $12.5 billion in bailout money, the News points out”:

“For the first time in four decades in the luxury-home business, executives at John Wieland builders are thinking the unthinkable: Maybe houses in the South don’t really need a fireplace. They’re also wondering whether new homes require 4,700 square feet of living space. Or private theaters with 100-inch screens. Or super-size-me foyers…”You have to keep taking things out until you hit a critical point where people reject your product,” said Jeff Kingsfield, senior vice president of sales at Smyrna-based John Wieland Homes & Neighborhoods.  It’s an experiment brought on by necessity”:




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