March 2, 2009

New plan for Broadway in Times Square
Plan for a pedestrianized Broadway in Times Square
(Photo courtesy Streetsblog)


New plan for Broadway in Times Square
Plan for a pedestrianized Broadway in Times Square
(Photo courtesy Streetsblog)


  • Gas tax: Paying cents to save big bucks (Boston Globe)
    By Barry Bluestone and Stephanie Pollack -- WITH times as tough as they are, it is not surprising that Massachusetts legislators and residents are balking at Governor Patrick's proposal to raise the state gasoline tax. But before deciding whether an additional $8 per month for the typical driver is too expensive, it's worth thinking about how much drivers will pay if the gas tax is not raised. Strange as it may seem, increasing the gas tax by 19 cents a gallon will actually save most Massachusetts drivers more than the higher tax will cost them.


  • Turnpike OK's toll increases, awaits decision on gas tax (Boston Globe, Brookline TAB)
    By Noah Bierman -- The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority approved a set of staggered toll hikes yesterday that could be eliminated if the Legislature increases the state gas tax. The toll hikes could eventually cost commuters hundreds of dollars per year. In the meantime, the complex plan is likely to baffle them. Members of the Legislature, who had asked the authority to delay the vote, were furious at the Patrick administration, which controls the Turnpike Authority, for pushing the hikes through before filing a gas tax bill that could have averted them.


  • Bloomberg Puts Forward a Bold, Transformative New Vision for Broadway (Streetsblog, New York Times)
    By Aaron Naparstek -- NEW YORK -- New York City Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan unveiled plans to pedestrianize a large swath of Broadway in Midtown Manhattan at a small briefing in City Hall this morning. Intended to improve motor vehicle traffic flow, enhance safety and provide more and better public space to pedestrians, the plan seeks to solve what Sadik-Khan called a "problem hidden in plain sight for 200 years." As the only Midtown street that pre-dates the 1811 street grid plan, Broadway "creates pinch points and traffic congestion as it traverses Manhattan crossing busy avenues," Sadik-Khan said. Extending from 59th Street at Columbus Circle to 23rd Street at Madison Square with substantial pedestrian-only areas at Times and Herald Squares, Mayor Bloomberg's plan for Broadway is, arguably, the boldest and most transformative street reclamation project since Portland, Oregon decided to tear down Harbor Drive in 1974.  (For more details of the plan, see this Streetsblog post.)


  • BRT, Rail, and New York City: A Conversation With Walter Hook (Streetsblog: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4)
    By Ben Fried -- New York City made a major public commitment to Bus Rapid Transit in 2006 when, after years of discussion, the MTA and DOT put forward plans for pilot routes in each of the five boroughs. In the meantime, the city's BRT agenda has encountered a few setbacks in Albany and made a partial breakthrough on Fordham Road, with a service that incorporates some nifty bus improvements, but not enough to merit the BRT designation. Perhaps no one knows the ins and outs of BRT better than Walter Hook (right). As director of the Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, Hook has advised cities on four continents about BRT implementation, including Jakarta's seven-corridor network, the first full-fledged BRT system in Asia.


  • Americans Agree: Smart Growth Approach to Transportation Helps Build Communities (T4America)
    WASHINGTON -- An overwhelming majority of Americans believe restoring existing roads and bridges and expanding transportation options should take precedence over building new roads, according to a survey sponsored by the National Association of Realtors® and Transportation for America. The 2009 Growth and Transportation Survey describes what Americans think about how their communities are handling development and how the transportation needs of communities can best be met.


  • Slow Economy Means Faster Traffic (New York Times)
    By John R Quaid -- Apparently the dark cloud of the economy has a silver lining: Less traffic congestion. A study released this morning by Inrix, a supplier of live and historic traffic information for navigation devices and radio stations, shows that compared with 2007 there was a 30 percent decline in traffic congestion across major metropolitan areas of the United States last year. Inrix based its second annual report, called the National Traffic Scorecard, on an analysis of nearly 50,000 miles of primary roads, culled from information it collects on more than 800,000 miles of highways.



  • As neighbors resist, plans for Blue Hill station roll on (Dorchester Reporter)
  • Trackless trolleys are coming back soon, MBTA says (Boston Globe)
  • Slice of the transit dream fractured by schedule changes (Boston Globe)


Transportation financing/Government


Development projects


National trends

  • Dems Round Up FY 2009 with Omnibus Appropriations Act (Transport Politic)
  • Slow Economy Means Faster Traffic (New York Times)
  • One Way To Save Transit (Planetizen)
  • The Beauty in Brutalism, Restored and Updated (Wall Street Journal)
  • Why better pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure will help combat cancer (Examiner)
  • Panel Suggests Higher Gas Tax (New York Times)
  • Americans Agree: Smart Growth Approach to Transportation Helps Build Communities (T4America)
  • Transportation for America issues call to President Obama and Congress to launch a new federal transportation mission (T4America)
  • Hertz will take on Zipcar by spring (Boston Globe)
  • Competitors for High-Speed Rail Grants (Transport Politic)

International news