Urban Issues

Is Your Transportation Project a Boondoggle?


Tony Dutzik, writing for the progressive Frontier Group, offers a ten ways of recognizing whether a highway project is a boondoggle. A few of his ideas are valid: a highway widening project aimed simply at creating a continuous four-lane road even when there is no demand for four lanes seems silly.  read more »

Las Vegas Lessons, Part 1


I spent much of last week in Las Vegas for the International Council of Shopping Centers' RECON 2017, the world's largest real estate convention. It's a gathering for developers, brokers, property owners, retailers, architects, landscape designers, construction companies, municipalities and more to get together to discuss real estate possibilities, in the one city that owes its very existence to aggressive real estate ventures.  read more »

America's Most Suburbanized Cities


Recently, The Wall Street Journal and Newsday, in a photographic spread, trumpeted the 70th anniversary of Levittown, the New York suburban development that provided the model for much of the rapid suburbanization that occurred after the Second World War in the United States. Levittown's production line building also set the stage for the similar suburbs of cities in Canada, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere.  read more »

Amtrak and Express Coach Lines: What's Competition Have To Do With It?

image2 3_zpsc2mbtgl8.JPEG

Express coach lines like BoltBus and Megabus have grown dramatically in recent years, providing millions of Americans with new mobility options. When the subject of competition between bus and train arises, however, many transportation wonks instantly become minimizers. Some cite growing rail traffic to make the case that this competition hardly matters. Others point to severe congestion on the Northeast Corridor (NEC)—Amtrak’s busiest route—to build the argument that attempting to lure passengers from buses to trains is a pointless exercise.  read more »

Is California About to Clobber Local Control?


The gradual decimation of local voice in planning has become accepted policy in Sacramento. The State Senate is now considering two dangerous bills, SB 35 and SB 167, that together severely curtail democratic control of housing.

SB 35: Housing Accountability and Affordability Act (Wiener)  read more »

The Evolving Urban Form: Prague


Prague is the capital of Czechia, a nation most readers have probably never heard of. Last year, the Czech Republic adopted a new name that does not reveal its governance structure (republic). The new name has not enjoyed widespread acclaim. The union of Czechoslovakia, which dates from the end of World War I, split peacefully in 1993, resulting in the creation of Czech Republic and Slovakia.  read more »

Seattle Booms in Latest Census City-Level Estimates


Seattle tops the growth charts among the top 25 cities in the Census Bureau’s latest release of 2016 city and town population estimates.

Seattle, a land-locked (no annexation) city in the Pacific Northwest with a limited history of high density, managed to add 20,847 people last year, a growth rate of over 3% – tops among the 25 largest cities.  read more »

Rebuilding America's Infrastructure


President Trump promised a $1 trillion infrastructure plan during his campaign. Spending more money on infrastructure is something that has broad support among people of all political persuasions.

But as the case of Louisville’s $2.4 billion bridge debacle shows, not all infrastructure spending is good spending.  read more »

Rail in Legacy Cities vs. Federal Funds to Poorer Markets


Someone asked me to reconcile my recent paper on rail funding with my stance on Cal-Train electrification that the feds should prioritize funding towards poorer cities. Very good question because there is an apparent conflict there.  read more »

Cincinnati Streetcars’ “Catastrophic Failures”


The Cincinnati streetcar–now known as the Cincinnati Bell Connector since Cincinnati Bell paid $3.4 million for naming rights–is barely six months old, and already is having problems. Four streetcars broke down in one day a few months ago.  read more »