Sunday, July 21, 2024
TOD News Briefs

The Week in TOD News June 22-28, 2024

NJ TRANSIT seeks to hold Amtrak accountable (right); South Orange commuters seek solutions to disruptions; Why climate advocates should be urbanists; RAISE grants; Could high-speed rail link Europe and Africa? (left top-to-bottom)

Article of the Week

NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak trains at Elizabeth (2014).
Mike Kam | Wikimedia

NJ Transit Pledges to Hold Amtrak’s ‘Feet to the Fire’ After Commuting Meltdowns
Mike Hayes, Gothamist, June 22 2024
NJ TRANSIT CEO Kevin Corbett vows to hold Amtrak’s accountable following a week of commuting chaos that left riders stranded and frustrated. Recent issues, including train delays and service interruptions from Newark Penn to New York Penn on tracks owned by Amtrak, underscore the need for urgent infrastructure investment. Tom Wright of the Regional Planning Association notes, “The real problem is the old infrastructure; the service is only as good as its weakest link.” Improved collaboration between Amtrak and NJ TRANSIT is crucial to prevent future breakdowns.


argonauts31 | Flickr

Andy Kim, Mikie Sherrill Promise Action in Resolving NJ Transit Commuting Woes
Mary Barr Mann, The Village Green, June 27 2024
South Orange and Maplewood commuters seek immediate, tangible solutions for NJ TRANSIT’s frequent disruptions. In a recent Zoom meeting organized by South Orange Mayor Sheena Collum and Maplewood Mayor Nancy Adams, Representatives Andy Kim and Mikie Sherrill pledged to address these issues, emphasizing the urgent need for a contingency plan and improved infrastructure. The meeting highlighted 19 major disruptions to the Mid-Town Direct Train service in the past six weeks alone. Commuters expressed frustration over longstanding issues and the lack of short-term solutions, advocating for actions such as additional bus lines and cross-honoring of passes. Kim and Sherrill stressed
the importance of the Gateway Tunnel project and promised
to push for federal intervention and resources to expedite repairs.

Courtesy of the City of Hackensack

HACKENSACK—Hackensack Planning Board Approves 254 Residential Units for Former YMCA Site
Staff Writer, TAP into Hackensack, June 26 2024
Hackensack Planning Board approved plans for a new mixed-use development on the former YMCA site, located a 10-minute walk from Anderson Street Station. The project will feature 254 units and a 6,000-sq. ft. public plaza. It’s expected to generate over $1 million in annual tax revenue, create 1,000 construction jobs, and marks a significant step in the City’s redevelopment goals. Despite the sentimental value of the former YMCA, city officials and the mayor emphasize the economic benefits and community revitalization this project will bring.

Courtesy of Starling

JERSEY CITY—Four New Retailers Announced in Jersey City’s Bergen-Lafayette Neighborhood
Staff Writer, TAP into Hoboken, June 25 2024
Bergen-Lafayette’s transformation into a prime residential destination in Jersey City is boosted by four new dining options at Liberty Science Center Station. The Bergen Lafayette Collection will welcome Eggs Up and Mochi Dough/Bober Tea in August, followed by Cheeky’s “New Orleans-style” sandwiches in the fall. Developed by Alpine Residential and Fields Grade, the project aims to create nearly 1,000 apartments with world-class amenities and street-level retail, enriching the community and promoting urban lifestyles.

Transit and Equity News

Courtesy of Rebecca and Daniel Yarnie

MASSACHUSETTS—Developing Equity: $50M Fund Seeks to Address Housing Crisis and Lack of Diversity in Development Industry                   
Eric Casey, Worcester Business Journal, June 24 2024
MassHousing and the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation have launched a $50-million Equitable Development Fund designed to diversify the real estate development sector and address the housing crisis in central Massachusetts. By providing underrepresented developers with access to crucial capital and technical assistance, the fund aims to empower these developers to create more inclusive representative housing projects in the state’s Gateway Cities. Note: Access to this article requires registration on the site.

2022 Progress Report. California Air Resources Board (CARB)

Why Climate Advocates Should Be Urbanists
Alex Brennan, The Urbanist, June 22 2024
Alex Brennan, executive director of Futurewise, makes the case for incorporating land use policy into climate action strategies. He debunks the myth that electrification alone can solve the climate crisis, highlighting the crucial role of reducing vehicle miles traveled (VMT) through smarter land use. Brennan advocates for creating walkable, urban neighborhoods to cut emissions and support broader climate goals. He emphasizes that these changes are not only effective but also popular, offering a path to a greener, more connected future.

Courtesy of the Regional Transportation District (RTD)

COLORADO—City Council Approves $5M in Loans to Convert RTD Lot Into Affordable Housing
Chris Perez, Westword, June 21 2024
The Denver City Council has approved a $5 million loan to transform an RTD parking lot at 28th and Welton Streets into permanently affordable condominiums. Located next to the shuttered L Line light rail station, the project, managed by Elevation Community Land Trust, aims to provide sustainable housing for households earning up to 80 percent of the area median income. It offers a promising solution to Denver’s housing crisis, ensuring
long-term affordability and support for displaced tenants.

Courtesy of First Community Housing

CALIFORNIA—Philbrick: Insight into Transit-Oriented Affordable Housing
Karen E. Philbrick, San Jose Spotlight, June 6 2024
The recent opening of a mobility hub at Betty Ann Gardens, an affordable housing complex near the Berryessa BART Station, provides insights into solving the affordable housing crisis while enhancing transit access and sustainability. With San Jose rents averaging $2,526 per month and home prices nearing $1.5 million, affordable housing is critical. This hub offers residents discounted access to shared electric vehicles, chargers, e-bikes, and a real-time transit information screen, showcasing how integrating mobility hubs with affordable housing can promote equitable, green living.

Regional and National TOD News

Courtesy of the Maryland Association of Counties

Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE)
Press Release, U.S. Department of Transportation, June 26 2024
The Biden-Harris Administration has announced $1.8 billion in RAISE grants for 148 infrastructure projects across the U.S., bringing the total awarded under the administration to over $7.2 billion. These projects include road safety improvements, community revitalizations, and economic opportunities, with a focus on historically disadvantaged and impoverished areas. The RAISE program supports multi-modal, multi-jurisdictional projects,
aiming to build infrastructure and create good-paying jobs.

Courtesy of Noah Harper

The Case for Incremental Development
Noah Harper, Public Square, June 26 2024
Planner and urbanist Noah Harper examines housing development strategies, contrasting Patrick Condon’s promotion of Vancouver’s rapid expansion, which failed to enhance affordability, with Peter Calthorpe’s advocacy for large developers over locally driven, adaptable development. Harper calls for reassessing these practices to foster inclusive communities, highlighting South Bend, Indiana’s “Build South Bend” program. This initiative promotes small-scale development through pre-approved home patterns, simplified zoning codes, and support for developer education, aiming to encourage community investment and sustainable growth.

jpellgen | Flickr

MINNESOTA—Minnesota Highway Projects Will Need to Consider Climate Impacts in Planning
Frank Jossi, Energy News Network, June 21 2024
Minnesota has expanded its 2023 law requiring all major highway projects to consider and mitigate climate impacts before receiving state funding. This updated legislation affects projects with budgets over $15 million in the Twin Cities and $5 million elsewhere, ensuring they align with state climate goals. It mandates that project planners offset increases in greenhouse gas emissions and vehicle miles traveled, potentially incorporating funding for transit, bicycle, and pedestrian programs, as well as environmental restoration projects. This shift aims to create more sustainable, transit-friendly infrastructure and inspire similar actions in other states.

International TOD News

NASA‘s Marshall Space Flight Center | Flickr

MOROCCO—An Underwater Rail Tunnel May Link Europe with Africa by 2030
Everett Potter, Forbes, June 24 2024
Spain and Morocco are considering an infrastructure project that could revolutionize travel between Europe and Africa: a high-speed rail tunnel under the Strait of Gibraltar. The project, first discussed in 1979, could allow passengers to travel from Madrid to Casablanca in five and a half hours by 2030. Support for the project is gaining momentum ahead of the 2030 FIFA World Cup, promising to connect continents and significantly enhance travel efficiency.

Courtesy of the City of Vancouver, BC

CANADA—“Pace of Change” Policy in Grandview-Woodland Plan to Be Abolished
Keneth Chan, Daily Hive, June 22 2024
The “Pace of Change” policy in Vancouver’s Grandview-Woodland Plan, which limits the number of development proposals to address local concerns about rampant development and displacement, is set to be abolished to comply with British Columbia’s transit-oriented development legislation. This policy change will enable greater density, including the potential for 20-story towers near SkyTrain stations, and aligns with the province’s goal of increasing housing supply near transit hubs.
City staff also recommend new tenant protection measures to
support those displaced by development.