Metro Atlanta will have fewer public transit options for seniors in the coming years than any other metropolitan area in the country with 3 million or more residents, according to a new survey from Transportation for America, a national coalition of public officials, and transportation and real estate groups. According to the study, by 2015 approximately 90 percent of metro Atlanta adults ages 65 to 79 will not have access to public transit.
In the study called “Aging in Place, Stuck without Options,” Atlanta was followed in its population category by Riverside-San Bernandino, Calif., Houston, Detroit and Dallas.
New York City was separated into a category by itself due to the area’s large population.
For metropolitan areas with 1 million to 3 million people, Kansas City is ranked worst for senior transit options, followed by Oklahoma City, Fort Worth, Nashville, and Raleigh-Durham.
Click here to read the report.
Posted on Monday June 6th by Eric Jaffe for The Infrastructurist – Ameica Under Construction
In the transportation world our intuition can lead us astray. On first thought, no one would suspect that removing a major road can improve traffic flow — yet that’s exactly what it does (or would do) in some cases. The flipside of this contrarian coin is that building a brand new highway often fails to alleviate the congestion that inspired its construction in the first place. Economists Gilles Duranton and Matthew Turner of the University of Toronto offer an impressive and empirical explanation for this concept in an upcoming issue of the American Economic Review (full paper via Google Docs).
Duranton and Turner analyzed loads of data on traffic, infrastructure, and travel behavior from metropolitan regions across the United States and found that “vehicle-kilometers traveled … increases proportionately to roadway lane kilometers for interstate highways.” For those who don’t care for either academic abstracts or the metric system, the authors then parse their conclusion in pithier terms: “roads cause traffic.” The basis for this confusing reality, write Duranton and Turner, is a three-pronged “fundamental law of highway congestion” that explains why road construction can never keep pace with road congestion:
people drive more when the stock of roads in their city increases; commercial driving and trucking increase with a city’s stock of roads; people migrate to cities which are relatively well provided with roads.
As compelling as the evidence in this study may be, it doesn’t tell perceptive urban planners anything they haven’t known for decades. Duranton and Turner trace the “fundamental law of highway congestion” to a study published by road researcher Anthony Downs in 1962. In an issue of Traffic Quarterly, Downs reported his law of “peak-hour” congestion: “This Law states that on urban commuter expressways, peak-hour traffic congestion rises to meet maximum capacity.”
Before Downs, social critic Lewis Mumford recognized the properties of this law in the behavior of drivers in and around New York City. Mumford was well ahead of his contemporaries when it came to recognizing the perils of road construction; Jane Jacobs is often remembered as the foil of road-builder Robert Moses, but at the time many would have cast Mumford in that role. While researching my history of transportation in the Northeast, I came across an illuminating four-part series Mumford wrote for the New Yorker in 1955 called “The Roaring Traffic’s Boom.” In the second article, Mumford provides a commentary that anticipates Duranton and Turner half a century ago:
[O]ur one-eyed specialists continue to concoct grandiose plans for highway development, as if motor transportation existed in a social vacuum. … Instead of curing congestion, they widen chaos. …
All the current plans for dealing with congestion are based on the assumption that it is a matter of highway engineering, not of comprehensive city and regional planning, and that the private motorcar has priority over every other means of transportation, no matter how expensive it is in comparison with public transportation, or how devastating its by-products.
Prescient as he was, Mumford had little impact on the policies of his day, partly because his suggested solutions — carefully planned communities, population limits, and a fully balanced transportation network — were even more objectionable than curtailing road construction. (And you thought raising the gas tax was politically unpalatable.)
Likewise the findings of Duranton and Turner are the type that should, but probably will not, inform good social policy. This is not a blatant call for more public transportation funding; in fact, the Toronto researchers found that adding transit does nothing to ease highway congestion. When one driver leaves the road, another simply takes his or her place, as Turner explained to Streetsblog DC. (That finding will be misappropriated by road-building enthusiasts to argue for more highways under the fundamental “if nothing helps, then who cares?” error.)
The only solution endorsed by Duranton and Turner is congestion pricing. In April 1955, Mumford predicted that Manhattan would soon have to “banish private wheeled traffic” in midtown during the day. This extreme version of congestion control did not come soon, and when Mayor Bloomberg did introduce a pricing plan recently, it was roundly beaten. “People, it seems, find it hard to believe that the cure for congestion is not more facilities for congestion,” Mumford wrote. Some beliefs are hard to change.
We Need to Hear From You! The Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, in conjunction with urban design firm Perkins + Will, is excited to announce an upcoming Spring Planning Workshop on Saturday, 7 May from 8:00am – 1:00pm at the Center for Spiritual Growth & Meditation to gain community feedback on the future development of our area. The Center is located at 1893 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30324. As you know, the LLCC’s aim is to improve the environment around us and the quality of life in our community. We need your input to be able to influence the type of development we’ll see in the LLCC area. The upcoming workshop will focus specifically on the area around Cheshire Bridge Road and LaVista Road and Lindbergh Drive. Please take a few moments to answer the following questions. All feedback is anonymous. The LLCC will use this information to guide our discussion at our Spring planning workshop on Saturday, 7 May, where we will have representatives from the commercial property owners in this area, as well as government officials. For more information on the workshop, please visit www.lindberghlavista.org.
Link to survey: http://survey.constantcontact.com/survey/a07e3kxw9mvglig11ro/start
Hopes for regional transit funding are lining up.
When it was originally proposed in 1965, MARTA was supposed to be the transit authority serving the entire Atlanta region, then splayed out over five counties. Yet the system required funding to be put in place, and when asked to devote some of their sales taxes to the cause, only people in Fulton and DeKalb Counties — the most central of the region — agreed to pony up. So the rail system that began operations in mid-1979 remains constrained to those counties’ borders. Lacking needed funds, the original system plan has yet to be completed.
That’s in spite of the fact that the ten closest-in Atlanta region counties now house more than 4.1 million people and have grown significantly over the past half century. Partially because of the failure to expand MARTA, the region’s transit mode share of work trips has declined disastrously from 16.8% in 1960 to 3.7% today. New transportation projects have been few and far between: Currently, the only transit program that has its funding secured in the Atlanta region is the short (and, from the standpoint of the region’s larger needs, modest) Georgia Transit Connector streetcar, which was funded by a U.S. Department of Transportation TIGER grant last fall.
Fortunately, the area’s residents will be allowed to vote next year on an increase in local funding for transportation through a 1¢ sales tax, which would extend across the ten counties if it were approved by the population. The referendum, which is expected to raise up to $7 billion in additional resources over the next ten years, was made possible because of the passage of a Georgia state law in June 2010 largely pushed through by new Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed.
The flow of dollars holds great promise and could be instrumental in aiding the region develop its meager fixed-route public transportation network into something more convenient. Already, cities and counties across the region have submitted $24 billion in potential projects to be funded with the money, far more than could be distributed. (15% of dollars raised will be spent by constituent local governments, with 85% remaining allocated by the regional planning authority for projects determined by a regional “roundtable” group.) The final list of projects that would be funded by the tax will be determined in October.
Despite the clear need for improved transportation in the metropolitan region, though, there is no guarantee that county populations will approve the sales tax increase or that the projects chosen for funding will be appropriate in guiding the area’s growth.
The first problem is serious: The anti-government sentiment currently festering in the United States is likely to negatively affect proposals that would do a lot to expand the commuting options for one of the nation’s largest regions. Though transportation sales tax increase measures have fared well in cities from Charlotte to Los Angeles, whether they can pass in broad sections of the suburbs is a different matter. It seems almost inevitable that the citizens of Atlanta will vote in favor of the proposal, even though it will double their sales taxes dedicated to transport, but getting people to do the same in exurban sections of Gwinnett County will be much more difficult. It didn’t happen 40 years ago.
Second, even if the tax increase is passed, the projects funded will not necessarily contribute to positive change in this sprawling metropolis. Though MARTA has a number of transportation expansions under study, parts of the $7 billion will be distributed to roads projects as well. Outside of Atlanta proper, which contains just 10% of the larger region’s population, there is likely to be more support for highway infrastructure than bus or rail investments.
Some advocacy groups have already begun pushing to ensure that transit gets its “fair share” of funds, which they argue is 60% of the total, or $4.2 billion over ten years. That’s a big sum even for a region as large as this one, but it may also be too optimistic, especially if those making the list want the measure to pass in car-dominated outer sections of the area. The respective influence of these rival factors will be better understood once the list of projects to be funded is finalized later this year.
What seems likely are a serious of compromises, largely involving the extension of transit lines out into the suburbs, investments that return fewer transportation benefits than equivalent projects in the core but which could offer a motivation for voters and politicians from areas outside of Atlanta to support the tax increase. Bus rapid transit or heavy rail extensions from each of MARTA’s current termini have been proposed; these offerings would be heavy on cost but likely limited in spurring new construction around stations and encouraging car-free lifestyles. Their inclusion in the plan, however, may be necessary to acquire the necessary political support for the program over the next year or so.
Nonetheless, the potential for great improvement in Atlanta area transit is exciting. The Beltline, which would ring the city’s core with a light rail route coordinated with transit-oriented development, is a role model for the rest of the country — and the city has appropriately argued that a large percentage of the funding go to that project. In addition, a connection between Lindbergh Center and Emory University, a project that (in a different form) was part of the original MARTA network plans, has been revived as a regional priority and could finally see the light of day.
Join us for a meeting convened by DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader at a public meeting to discuss the results of the Environmental Protection Agency’s recent testing for contaminants in the county parkland at Zonolite and the South Fork of Peachtree Creek.
Neighbors and groups interested in trail building and public garden planning are invited.
Hear what we can hope for the restoration of this important floodplain in the South Fork Watershed.
Dr. Francis Kung’U, head of DeKalb County Watershed Department
Terry Stilman, EPA on-site coordinator
Jeff Rader, DeKalb County Commissioner
7-8 PM Thursday, Dec. 9, 2010
Westminster Presbyterian Church
1438 Sheridan Road, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324
For more details, Debbie Schneider in Jeff Rader’s office at email@example.com.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Yuki Takahara
TASTE & TOUR OF CHESHIRE BRIDGE 2010
A Weekend of Sensory Exploration on Atlanta’s Quirkiest Little Road
The upscale, family-friendly businesses of Cheshire Bridge Road are working together to bring you the 2nd annual Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge. Some of Atlanta’s top restaurants will offer tastings while other retail stores will offer raffles and discounts. Ticket sales from this year’s event will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition or LLCC and the Blueprints plan to beautify the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor area.
Atlanta, GA, September 11-12 – The Taste & Tour of Cheshire Bridge will operate Saturday September 11 and Sunday September 12. Tastings, tours, will be offered from 12 noon to 5 PM with a gathering after 5 PM at Cheshire Pointe with local musicians, artist and information booths on civic associations, nature conservancies, park services and public service groups. Recommended lots for parking are on Liddell Drive, Faulkner Road, and 1893 Piedmont Road (back parking lot of Nakato Japanese Restaurant). Trolley service will be available with a history tour of the colorful street. Tickets will be sold online at www.lindberghlavista.org and participating store locations. Ticket prices are $20 each for the entire weekend. Many of the Cheshire Bridge businesses will be offering different samples, tastings, and giveaways for each day of the event.
Proceeds from ticket sales will benefit the Lindbergh LaVista Corridor Coalition, a non-profit organization for promoting the safety and progress of the business nodes along the corridor as well as creating a blueprint for sustainable and progressive neighborhood planning.
Many of the participating businesses have called Cheshire Bridge Road their home for decades while others have recently joined the eclectic Cheshire Bridge mix. Participating businesses include but are not limited to Alfredo’s, Antiques and Beyond, Bamboo Luau, Java Blues, The Colonnade, Costumes Etc., Flora Dora, Las Margaritas, Nakato Japanese Restaurant, Nino’s, Taco Cabana, Habersham Gardens, Johnny’s Pizza, Return to Eden, Roxx Tavern, Rusto’s Pizza, Ursula’s Cooking School, Sheik’s Burritos n’ Kabobs, Woodfire Grill and Rhodes Bakery.
If you would like more information on this event, the participants, or if you would like to schedule an interview with any of the participants, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit www.lindberghlavista.org for more information on the community blueprint.
David R. Kaufman’s journey down Atlanta’s forgotten waterway
This report was prepared by Ken Edelstein, with assistance from Joeff Davis, Samantha Simon and Tammy Vinson. Online production by Alejandro Leal.
John Wesley Powell had the Colorado. Lewis and Clark explored the Missouri. For Henry Morton Stanley, it was the Nile.
David R. Kaufman set his sights a bit more modestly. Since he moved to Atlanta as a kid in 1971, Kaufman wanted to uncover the mysteries of Peachtree Creek, a neglected stream that drains the northern half of Atlanta.
Now he’s completed his voyage of discovery. Throughout the 1990s – sometimes with a friend, most often alone – Kaufman descended the North and South forks of Peachtree Creek, as well as some of its tributaries.
What he found by canoe and on foot, and what he recorded with a 4-by-5 camera, was a stream whose rich history and natural beauty has largely been pushed aside by roads, buildings, garbage, pollution – by a city that turned its back on what could be a magnificent resource. Yet remnants of that history and beauty remain.
Kaufman shares his journey in a book, Peachtree Creek: A Natural and Unnatural History of Atlanta’s Watershed (University of Georgia Press, 2007).
Here are some photos and excerpts.