Despite the economic crisis, there is still plenty to be thankful for this year, including:
New Jersey funding Access to the Region’s Core. You could argue that the ARC Tunnel, which would double NJ Transit capacity to NYC, is the most important project in the region. (A good bar argument for transit nerds?) Congrats to NJ for ensuring its portion of the project is funded — and for using highway toll revenue to do it.
New York City: The new Portland? NYCDOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan has raised a bumper crop of new pedestrian plazas and bicycle lanes, meaning a more livable and greener city. Cycling in NYC is up 35% compared to last year, and NYCDOT and other agencies aren’t stopping now. Next on the agenda is legislation to require bike access to office buildings and bike parking in new buildings. Even Portland, a national model of sustainability, is playing some catch-up. This month it announced it would build its first “cycle track” separated bike lane — over a year after NYC opened one on Ninth Avenue.
Bus rapid transit across the Hudson Valley’s Tappan Zee corridor. In September, NYSDOT picked bus rapid transit as the transit mode to be built across the I-287 corridor because it would attract more riders than rail while costing less (commuter rail will also be built in Rockland County to serve the Rockland-NYC market). If it’s done right, the BRT system could set a precedent for fast, flexible, and cost-effective suburban transit. Among the remaining questions: can stakeholders work together to make sure development sprouts around the transit stations?
New leadership at ConnDOT. Commissioner Joseph “Transit Guy” Marie is still getting his feet wet, but his encouraging remarks on transit-oriented development suggest that ConnDOT may finally be ready to embrace smart growth and leave behind the road-obsessed and reportedly dysfunctional legacy of its years under Gov. John Rowland.
New Haveners’ grassroots pedestrian safety efforts paying off. One of the success stories of the year has been the translation of citizen organizing into City of New Haven support for “complete streets” legislation and traffic safety education. Hopefully the city’s efforts will mean fewer tragedies like the pedestrian deaths which spurred the outrage in the first place.
Transit-friendly areas weathering the housing and financial crises. One reason there might be so much TOD interest — besides the environmental and economic benefits — is that the housing crisis has revealed the fundamental strengths of areas built around transit.
National attention being paid to the need for infrastructure investment. Unfortunately, it took a bridge collapse in Minnesota to get elected officials to pay attention to the crumbling national infrastructure. But the incoming presidential administration seems to understand the problem, and groups like T4America are working to make sure that new federal transportation legislation includes a much larger pot of money that is directed at real needs and not unsustainable road expansion.
The first anniversary of the MTR blog. Do you remember getting MTR by fax? Well, we remember having to send it by fax. We’re glad those days are over, and thankful that readership of MTR has increased four-fold since last November, the blog’s first official month.
(MTR will be on vacation for Thanksgiving.)