Friday, March 13th, 2009

Midwest Miscellany

President Obama was quoted on high speed rail:

“I think there’s enormous opportunities here. Railroads were always the pride of America and stitched us together. Now, Japan, China, all of Europe, have high-speed rail systems that put ours to shame. And the potential economic benefits of a high-speed rail link between Chicago and Milwaukee, so that people are avoiding I-94, or the link between Chicago and St. Louis, Detroit, all those Midwestern cities, I think is enormous and is a very real option. Although gas prices are low right now, it becomes a very meaningful option for people who don’t want to take off their shoes (for screening), drive to an airport, pay for parking, suffer delays.”

Also in high speed rail news:

Illinois revs up for high speed trains (Indiana Economic Digest / Times of Northwest Indiana)
Let’s not miss the high speed train (Star Tribune)
Could stimulus money finally put high speed rail to Madison on track? (Capital Times)

The World Bank ,which is chartered with helping underdeveloped regions, issued a report noting that development requires concentration of economic activity and mobility of people and goods (hat tip Burgh Diaspora). This goes to show the folly of trying to forcibly peanut butter spread economic activity around. Not a pleasant truth, perhaps, but a truth nevertheless.

Here is an interesting article questioning the need for so much parking (hat tip Richard Layman). Some of you may recall that I took a similar view in “No Parking, No Problem

A USA Today article on the migration of development back to cities.

Ed Glaeser, following on to his research into greenhouse gases, suggests that the metaphor of intense urban development as destructive, as exemplified by the story of the Lorax, is wrong. Skyscrapers are the most environmentally friendly way we can build.

A pretty cool collection of 25 visualizations explaining the financial crisis.

Time Magazine has yet another photo essay on the decline of Detroit. All I can say is, Wow!

Streetsblog covers a great NYT article suggesting bicyclists show a little basic etiquette on the road. I like bicycling. I own and ride a bike. But the complete contempt all too many bicyclists show for anyone else on the streets – autos or pedestrians – plus the “we’re a morally superior form of life” rhetoric that often emanates from bicycle advocacy groups is just wrong. How about we follow these basic suggestions from the article: stop at major intersections, don’t ride the wrong way down a one way street, stay off the sidewalk, and signal? Seems pretty basic to me.

Over in western Michigan, Richard Longworth suggests the area should brand itself as part of Chicagoland.

It’s back. A group is trying to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot to legalize casinos in Ohio. Unlike previous proposals, these casinos would be in the downtowns of Ohio’s biggest cities. This would be a civic development catastrophe. Turning to casinos for some short term funding juice in exchange for long term sucking discretionary spending dollars out of a community (and a downtown) is a loser. Casinos might be ok in struggling smaller areas that need help, but the downtown of a major city is the last place local leaders should want to see one.

The Sears Tower is going to be renamed the Willis Tower. I’m not making this up. All anybody can say in response to this is, “Watchu talkin’ ’bout, Willis?”

The Boston Globe takes a look back at the ill-fated State St. pedestrian mall. I’m all in favor of pedestrian friendly streets, but eliminating auto traffic is generally a failure.

The Indianapolis Star ran a great article this week on the decline of the Center Township rental. It is a great follow-on to my post on the potential implosion of Marion County and shows the headwinds the city faces in trying to attract residents.

The New York Times Magazine does a lengthy story of foreclosure in Cleveland. I realize Cleveland has problems, but there are other cities one could write about from time to time.

San Francisco wants their high speed rail platform to handle trains every 5 minutes. That seems a bit excessive to me. I do find it interesting how much money California is apparently willing to spend on this stuff when they are issuing IOU’s as tax refunds.

Apparently one in five US homeowners are under water.

More Midwest – lot’s of NYT Midwest coverage of late.

Cook County home sellers will have to get fingerprinted (CBS2Chicago)
Chicago school leaders say tax hike is likely (Tribune)
CTA warns service cuts, fare hikes on the table (Tribune)
Further details on CTA stimulus funds (CTA Tatler)
Art Institute admission to increase 50% (Tribune)

CSO, Pops will need partner (Enquirer)
Renaming the Banks?

Pension change urged for city (Dispatch)
New hotel should help attract conventions (Dispatch)

Michigan: Blueprint to Crisis (Daniel Howes @ Detroit News)
Rust Sleeps: Can we Glimpse and American Future in the Travails of Detroit? (FT)
The Ann Arbor bubble
(Michigan Daily)
A 22,000 mile view of Detroit’s despair (Nolan Finley @ Detroit News)
For Sale: The $100 house
In an old auto industry hometown, a familiar financial road (NYT)

Anderson, Indiana recovers from GM hangover (NYT)

Kansas City
Kansas City area coalition aims at innovation (KC Star)

Report maps path to a greener Louisville (CJ)

Twin Cities
Hard Times reach arts world: MIA cuts staff (Star Tribune)
Lost jobs add up to speedier commute (Star Tribune)
Troubled homeowners wait for Obama’s plan -and worry (MinnPost)

Topics: Public Policy, Transportation


2 Responses to “Midwest Miscellany”

  1. Ahow says:

    Not only is Sear Tower being renamed Willis Tower, but they want to paint it silver. On one of the blogs I read (Consumerist maybe?), they called it the Silver Willy…

  2. Steph Mineart says:

    I remember a similar article on bicycling in a Toronto magazine when I was honeymooning there last year in June. Toronto is a very bicycle and pedestrian-friendly city, which has lead to increasing clashes between motorists and cyclists on the road; everything from wars of words to folks hopping out of cars and engaging in fisticuffs with cyclists over being cut off, etc. I believe there was consideration of laws governing cycling behavior.

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