Urban Issues

Pittsburgh's Tunnel of LOV

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Before Pittsburgh’s light-rail “Tunnel to Nowhere” under the Allegheny River came along, my favorite Port Authority boondoggle was the Wabash Tunnel under Mt. Washington.

Most Pittsburghers know all they need to know about the notorious "Tunnel to Nowhere."  read more »

Dallas: Building America's Largest Urban Park on the Trinity Riverside

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A flood protection site in Dallas is being transformed into America’s largest urban park. The economic and ecological benefits of conserving this slice of North Texas are destined to reverberate well beyond the city limits. Blackland Prairie is the most endangered large ecosystem in North America. The development that is underway —thankfully — to preserve this remnant of our past will also shore up our natural assets for the future.  read more »

If California Is Doing So Great, Why Are So Many Leaving?

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Superficially at least, California’s problems are well known. Are they well understood? Apparently not.

About a year ago Time ran an article, "Why California is Still America's future," touting California's future, a future that includes gold-rush-like prosperity in an environmentally pure little piece of heaven, brought to us by "public-sector foresight."  read more »

Are Developers Greedy, Or Just Misunderstood?

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Construction starts in Australia, like much of the English-speaking world, are falling across a spectrum from commercial to retail, industrial and housing. Construction industry jobs - one of the few sources for well compensated blue collar employment - are going with them. Yet developers, the very group who would create these jobs, continue to suffer a poor public image. Why, and can it ever be improved?  read more »

Building the Train to Nowhere

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The California High Speed Rail Authority has approved building its first 54 miles in the San Joaquin Valley. A somewhat longer route, 65 miles, has been indicated in a number of press reports, but Authority documents indicate that only 54 miles of high speed rail track will be built. The route would start in Corcoran, and go through Fresno to Borden, a small, unincorporated community south of Madera. All of this would cost $4.15 billion. The route would include two stations, in Fresno and Hanford/Visalia.  read more »

Cities That Prosper, Cool or Not

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Over the past few years, the raging debate in economic development has been over whether cities should be cool or uncool. Should cities pursue “the creative economy” by going after arts, culture, creative research & development, and innovation? Or should they focus on the bread-and-butter economy: hard infrastructure, traditional industries like manufacturing, and blue-collar jobs?  read more »

Education Wars: The New Battle For Brains

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The end of stimulus — as well as the power shift in Congress — will have a profound effect on which regions and states can position themselves for the longer-term recovery. Nowhere will this be more critical than in the battle for brains.

In the past, and the present, places have competed for smart, high-skilled newcomers by building impressive physical infrastructure and offering incentives and inducements for companies or individuals. But the battle for the brains — and for long-term growth — is increasingly tied to whether a state can maintain or expand its state-supported higher education. This is particularly critical given the growing student debt crisis, which may make public institutions even more attractive to top students.  read more »

I Opt-out of California

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Like the harried traveler who made famous the expression, “Don’t touch my junk”, I have elected my own personal protest, California style. I have decided to OPT-OUT of California to protest my overgrown state government. I am tired of California legislators sticking their hands in my pants to pay for the European style social welfare state they have created. My work, my earnings and my taxes will go elsewhere.  read more »

Retro Rail Alert

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The New Zealand Government recently decided to follow the example of Montreal and Toronto by amalgamating the six City councils and the single Regional Council of the Auckland Region to create a united “Super City” of 1.4 million people.

Like similar amalgamated bodies, the new Auckland Council, which came into being on the 1st November, 2010, has fallen for the notion of regionally determined smart growth built around a huge investment in heavy rail.  read more »

Florida Goes Underground

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By Richard Reep

Last year’s report that Florida had lost people marked a new low in our state’s boom-and-bust history. But this autumn’s news seems to surpass even that sorry milestone with a combination of sluggish tourism, empty state coffers, and a reputation as one of the top real estate foreclosure states. Florida just can’t seem to get out of its own way, and with the fourth highest population in the country, it could have competed with Texas to replace California as one of the best business climates in the nation. Instead, Florida, which boasts one of the lowest tax rates in the nation, continues to see businesses and citizens depart  read more »