News and Views: February 24, 2017
Solutions to the challenges our communities are facing today and in the future will depend on bringing perspectives together and thinking differently about how we approach development and infrastructure in our neighborhoods. We hope this weekly snapshot of what our VERDUNITY crew was discussing this week will help inspire more communication and sharing of ideas.
Featured on the blog this week:
Kristin talks about her decision to ditch her typical suburban neighborhood in favor of a more walkable, urban setting. The biggest issues she considered? Strong sense of community, amenities, a safe neighborhood, and schools.
What we're reading this week:
Great idea: Shock and awe for cities and towns (CNU Public Square Journal)
Great interview transcript from a conversation with Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns and Joe Minicozzi of Urban 3.
Texas lawmakers might reverse voter-approved $5 billion allocation to TxDOT (Community Impact)
Voters in Texas approved a proposition to supply the State Highway Fund with $2.5 billion/year beginning in 2018 as long as the state collects more than $28 billion in sales tax. Now faced with a $4-5 billion revenue shortfall, lawmakers may vote to activate a clause which allows them to redirect half of the funds to other areas to cover other budget needs.
Get ready for carmageddon as D-FW's big new developments open this year (Dallas Morning News)
North Texas' land use and mobility model was designed around suburbs, personal vehicles and short (30 minute) commutes. Now, that system is showing its faults as businesses and people continue to move here by the thousands.
What to do about that ensuing 'carmageddon'? The folks at Collin County apparently think one option is to "build another north-south alternative to US 75, wherever that may be." This is 1) not likely, darn near impossible, and 2) they need to research induced demand. Ignoring this and thinking they could build their way out of congestion was exactly what led California to where they are today.
Many of our residential areas are built around stormwater ponds, which are intended to prevent flooding and treat polluted runoff to protect downstream waterways. Neglected ponds, however, lead to poor water quality, aquatic weeds, fish kills, shoreline erosion, nuisance wildlife and other problems. Research conducted by the Clemson University Center for Watershed Excellence found that the best way to assure these ponds are properly managed is to give homeowners associations and property managers the tools to make their own well-informed management decisions for these assets.
Devising ways to make stormwater ponds more natural, functional (Post and Courier)
Engineered ponds are ubiquitous (and essential for drainage in the face of increasing development), but most of them were not built with ecological function in mind.
"Dallas has long struggled with what it should do with the Trinity River, but has this city ever really understood what the river is and what it could be for Dallas if we simply embraced its wild natural wonder? That’s the question we will tackle at a symposium we’re holding on the Trinity River titled “Envisioning the Trinity: Theme Park or Natural Wonder” from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m on Wednesday, March 8 at Cityplace."
SOCIAL/QUALITY OF LIFE
In the 1950s, the Federal Highway Act sent major highways through the heart of most large cities. The detrimental societal and health effects are still being felt in those (primarily minority) neighborhoods, and new highway expansions like the one in Denver threaten to further disrupt these still-struggling neighborhoods. Pair this article with the following brief history of urban freeways from Strong Towns:
The History of Urban Freeways: Who Counts? (Strong Towns)
In light of a recently-proposed "inner-city connector" highway in Shreveport, LA, Daniel Herriges at Strong Towns has a great, succinct backstory on urban highways in the U.S.
Supplement this with former Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx discussing the legacy of the U.S. Highway System with Diane Rehm in 2016. And take a look at this list of cities that were divided by highways, with comments from residents.
Why the Rules of the Road aren't enough to prevent people from dying (FiverThirtyEight)
“It’s completely unacceptable for someone to die in a plane crash or an elevator...We should expect the same of cars.” Most accidents, especially those resulting in fatalities, can be prevented with better street design. This article explains the difference between design speeds and speed limits, and why lowering speed limits is only part of the solution. We hope more transportation engineers will join us in committing to design solutions that truly protect the health, safety and welfare of all people.
Podcast miniseries – Busted: America's Poverty Myths (On the Media)
WNYC's fantastic weekly broadcast (and podcast) put together a 5-part series on American poverty—and the tales we tell ourselves about it. They touch on rural poverty, whether people "deserve" to be poor, rags to riches narratives, and much more. The series is well worth a listen in its entirety.
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