Playground Cities (top-left); Affordable housing in Irvington (top-right); Congestion Pricing (bottom-left); Sydney’s new Hunter Street Station (bottom-right)
Article of the Week
Controversial Congestion Pricing Plan Advances Following Fed’s Greenlight
Matthew Fazelpoor, NJBIZ, May 8 2023
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has permitted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) and New York to proceed with the proposed congestion pricing plan, potentially charging drivers up to $23 per day to enter Manhattan south of 60th Street. Following a 30-day public review period, the initiative, which aims to reduce traffic and improve public transit through new funding, could take effect as soon as spring 2024. The plan has sparked controversy. Critics, such as New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Congressman Josh Gottheimer, assert that it disproportionately impacts New Jersey commuters and increases environmental burdens.
IRVINGTON—New Affordable Housing Community Opens in Irvington, NJ
Emily Fu, New York & Tri-State, May 11 2023
Adenah Bayoh and The NRP Group held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a 56-unit affordable housing complex at 722 Chancellor Avenue, near a NJ TRANSIT bus stop and a short distance from the Irvington Bus Terminal. The five-story mid-rise building consists of one- to three-bedroom units, with five specifically designed for residents with special needs. Funding was secured through a collaboration with the New Jersey Housing Mortgage Finance Agency, JPMorgan Chase Bank, Hudson Housing, the Township of Irvington, Greater Newark LISC, and the Irvington Housing Authority.
METUCHEN—Klein Enterprises Announces New Multifamily Development in Metuchen, New Jersey
Staff Writer, REW, May 7 2023
Klein Enterprises has introduced plans for a multifamily apartment complex at 212 Durham Avenue, near Metuchen Station. The development, set for completion by Fall 2025, will feature 272 Class A units, including 15 percent allocated to affordable housing and six live/work homes, on a redeveloped industrial site. The project, which has secured a 30-year PILOT agreement, will also contribute to local infrastructure investments and environmental preservation, and introduce various green initiatives in line with National Green Building Standards.
MASSACHUSETTS—Looped In: How 135 Affordable Units Rose Up on River Street
Gintautas Dumcius, Dorchester Reporter, May 10 2023
A previously vacant 2.57-acre lot in Boston’s Mattapan Square, once considered for a charter school, has been transformed into a transit oriented development (TOD) named “The Loop”. The new development features 135 residential units and a nonprofit grocery store. Located next to the Mattapan trolley line, The Loop was championed by state lawmakers Linda Dorcena Forry, Russell Holmes, and Dan Cullinane. There have been 3,000 rental applications submitted, demonstrating public support for more accessible apartments.
Democratic Rep. Robert Garcia Wants to Get Rid of Rules Requiring Parking Spots That Are Making the Housing Affordability Crisis Worse
Eliza Relman and Bryan Metzger, Insider, May 10 2023
Congressman Robert Garcia (CA-42) plans to introduce a bill banning minimum parking requirements near transit hubs to promote housing density and walkability. This proposal follows the argument that such requirements contribute to car dependence, inflate housing costs, and limit the efficient use of space. The bill, which mirrors similar laws in California, aims to lower housing costs and foster denser communities, making it an issue Garcia believes can gather bipartisan support.
WASHINGTON—UW, Partners Celebrate the Groundbreaking of New U District Station Building
Staff Writer, University of Washington News, May 11 2023
The University of Washington (UW), Lincoln Property Company, Intercontinental Real Estate Corporation, and Sound Transit have begun construction on a transit-oriented, 266,000-sq. ft. office building atop the University District Sound Transit Station. The building, set to be completed in 2024, will house retail and office space, promoting the use of public transit with connections to key locations in Seattle. UW will occupy five floors (including 8,000 sq. ft. of public open space), reducing single-occupancy vehicle trips and lowering their carbon footprint.
26 Empire State Buildings Could Fit Into New York’s Empty Office Space. That’s a Sign.
Edward L. Glaeser and Carlo Ratti, The New York Times, May 10 2023
As COVID-19 shifts work habits, Glaeser and Ratti argue that urban spaces need to adapt to a post-office reality by incorporating TOD and transforming into “Playground Cities” for work-life balance. The scholars find that repurposing empty office spaces will enhance pedestrianization and promote outdoor activities, thereby reinvigorating street life and boosting local economies. They also discuss the need to balance online and local business activity through fair taxation, and engaging citizens to create more inclusive, sustainable communities.
Commuters Ditched Public Transit for Work From Home. Now There’s a Crisis
Skylar Woodhouse, Bloomberg, May 9 2023
Due to dwindling pandemic aid and lower ridership, U.S. transit agencies are expected to face a combined estimated shortfall of $6.6 billion through 2026. In particular, the Chicago Transit Authority is grappling with a projected annual deficit of about $400 million, with ridership at only 54 percent of pre-pandemic levels, a level attributed to remote work and crime. As a result, agencies are exploring various solutions, such as fare increases, service cuts, and diversifying funding sources.
UTAH—Mayors of Utah Valley: Planes, Bikes, Trains and Automobiles
Julie Fullmer, Daily Herald, May 6 2023
Vineyard City is enhancing connectivity via the Vineyard Connector project and the recently completed FrontRunner station. Aiming for a walkable community, the city’s updated Transportation Master Plan is under public review. Active transportation is also prioritized, through initiatives for safer school routes and improved cycling paths.
AUSTRALIA—Hunter Street Station, Australia
Staff Writer, Railway Technology, May 10 2023
Sydney Metro West’s Hunter Street Station, a part of Australia’s large-scale public transportation project, is under construction, promising enhanced connectivity with other transit lines. The station will feature two integrated commercial, retail, and residential towers, promoting pedestrian mobility and urban growth. The development is seen as crucial to meeting Sydney’s increasing passenger traffic and reducing overcrowding on the Western Line.
INDIA—Urban Affairs, Railway Ministries Ink MoU With JICA For Bullet Train Area Development
Staff Writer, Business World India, May 9 2023
The Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs and the Ministry of Railways have partnered with the Japan International Cooperation Agency to develop areas around stations on the Mumbai-Ahmedabad High-Speed Rail. The Project-SMART initiative aims to improve commuter accessibility and boost local economic activity. Four stations, including Sabarmati, Surat, Virar, and Thane, are the initial focus of this development project.
NIGERIA—Charting New Direction for Infrastructure Development in SouthWest
Adewale Momoh, Akure, The Guardian, May 7 2023
Leveraging new constitutional powers, Nigerian state governments plan to boost regional growth by improving electricity and railway infrastructure. The strategy, discussed by the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria Commission (DAWN) and Investment Promotion Agencies (IPAs), intends to connect 44 southwest cities via rail. The move is expected to foster economic development and improve living standards in the region.