Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bike-Ped Paths Across Major Bridges and Charleston's Cooper River Bridge

There is a story today in Streetsblog regarding the Ohio DOT's reluctance to build a bike/pedestrian path over the replacement of Cleveland's I-90 Innerbelt Bridge for reasons which, well, aren't really reasons at all, it appears. Having spent last weekend in Charleston, South Carolina, I've seen the tremendous use that such a well-designed and well-constructed path can bring.

Charleston's Cooper River Bridge, the longest cable-stay bridge in North America, includes a wide bike and pedestrian path along the eastbound lane. While not an interstate, the bridge is many vehicle lanes wide and is a major artery in the Charleston area, linking the Charleston peninsula with neighboring Mount Pleasant, Sullivan's Island, Isle of Palms and eventually leading up to Myrtle Beach. While driving from Charleston over to Sullivan's and Isle of Palms to head to the beach several times last weekend, we noticed the large number of bikers, walkers and runners traversing the bridge, even on days in which the temperature reached 100 degrees. And the bridge is not exactly an easy bike or run, with the bride rising to 575 feet above the Cooper River, from essentially sea level on either side (I know, having run the Cooper River Bridge Run last year which starts in Mount Pleasant, crosses the bridge and ends in downtown Charleston).

These types of paths are not only great amenities to the community, but can actually serve as alternative means of transportation. Apparently the Ohio DOT doesn't get it.

Feds announce $293MM for new transit projects

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today a list of 53 projects nationwide that will receive federal funding for new streetcar and bus facilities. The projects include 6 "Urban Circulator" streetcar projects in Dallas, Fort Worth, Chicago, Cincinnati, Charlotte and St. Louis. Unfortunately, Atlanta's planned streetcar project was not on the list. An additional 47 projects will receive funding for bus facilities and bus-related services. These grants are not related to the TIGER grants awarded in February.

While this announcement is certainly a step in the right direction, $293 million is a drop in the bucket of the overall transportation allocations. As demand for such funding was apparently very high, though, hopefully the administration and Congress will see the need for a much larger allocation of transportation dollars to be allocated to quality, needed transit projects.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Rail & Streetcars Win Stimulus Bucks

The Administration announced today the winners of the Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants, the $1.5 billion stimulus grant project aimed to send federal dollars directly to specific transportation projects and municipalities rather than diverted through the states. Freight rail projects won the largest sums, with large projects in Chicago and in Tennessee/Alabama securing the biggest grants. Streetcar projects in New Orleans, Tuscon and Dallas also won large grants. Unfortunately for us here in Atlanta, the proposed Peachtree Streetcar project failed to make the list.

The list is a mixed bag of wins and losses for smart growth. The streetcar projects, of course, are positives, and improving existing rail corridors is also beneficial to our transportation network. But some of these projects -- the toll highway through Irving and Grand Prairie, TX, for example -- appear to do nothing to promote the types of projects that the Administration seems to want to support. Overall, this is a step in the right direction, but much, much more is needed to promote smart growth and walkable, non-car-dependent cities.