Friday, March 14, 2008

Transportation and Equity event

Joe Grengs, Assistant Professor of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Michigan, will discuss "Evaluating Transportation Equity with Accessibility: A Case Study of Detroit." This lecture will take place on Friday, March 14th from 1:30-3:30 pm in Room 345 at UWM's School of Architecture and Urban Planning, 2131 E. Hartford Ave.

If transportation is contributing to social inequalities anywhere, it is most likely happening in Detroit, where racial segregation and job sprawl combine to put the greatest distance between African Americans and jobs of any metropolitan region in the country. The field of transportation has not yet put into practice sound methods for measuring and evaluating social equity, but the concept of accessibility provides the needed measurement tool as the critical link between social equity and the built environment.

This presentation reports on the use of accessibility measures to inform community activists, transportation professionals, and scholars about whether racial minorities and low-income households in the Detroit metropolitan region are experiencing disadvantage in meeting their travel needs.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

WisDOT math off again

Remembering that the Wisconsin Department of Transportation estimates the inflation rate for the proposed, unfunded $1.9 billion North-South I-94 reconstruction and expansion project at 3%, we draw your attention to this from the American Road and Transportation Builders Association.

The cost of highway and street construction materials was up 11.8 percent in November 2007 compared to the same month last year. During the same time period inflation, as measured by the consumer price index, was 4.3 percent. Between 2003 and 2006, the cost of highway and street construction materials grew 35 percent.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

$91 million lost?! Noooooooooooooo!

The JS' Larry Sandler tells us today that the feds won't give us $91.5 million for transit improvements because the money we counting on for studying how to spend the $91.5 million is gone.

The feds say the study account is broke, which makes it a lot like the local transit system, which is broken.

Ald. Robert Bauman is planning for a discussion of the matter Wednesday during the Common Council's Public Works Committee. Let's have a discussion more about how to get the money back than who is to blame for losing it in the first place. Getting it back is, at this point, a lot more urgent.

Unfortunately, getting it back may also be nigh impossible. The Bush Administration, after all, has discovered fiscal conservatism and finding a way to withhold $91.5 million from a community that can't find a way to spend it would make a dandy example for fiscal conservatism show-and-tell.

There is another reason it may be impossible to restore the funds. The feds vastly underfund transit already, and President Bush is proposing to move $3 billion from transit spending next year to support highway spending instead.

And now our reps are going to go to Washington and say, "We couldn't decide how to spend more than $90 million for 17 years, but can we have money to study how to spend it so we can fight over it some more?"

The feds may be laughing too hard to sign the check.

Monday, March 3, 2008

More studies show more damage from freeways

Yet another study shows a direct link between asthma and exposure to heavy traffic. Meanwhile, a new analysis by 1000 Friends of Wisconsin shows that expanding North-South I-94 will add seven million tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere over 50 years.

More on the asthma findings from Boston.com:

Children who live close to traffic-clogged roads are more likely to have asthma than children who live farther from heavily traveled streets, according to a new state report that focuses on six Merrimack Valley communities.

Local officials said the study results could spur the Merrimack Valley communities and the state to do more to curtail asthma - a scourge affecting about 17.3 million Americans, including 5 million children nationwide, the report states. "I'll be more cognizant as we consider new development," Thomas Schiavone, Lawrence's economic development director, said last week. "We really need to do anything we can to alleviate childhood asthma."

The research, conducted from 1998 to 2001, had two parts. One compared the number of asthma cases among 34,000 children ages 5 to 14 against the distance of their homes from a road, at five intervals from 25 meters to 200 meters away, and the road's traffic volume, or average number of automobiles, trucks, and buses traveling on it daily.

At each distance, children with asthma were consistently found to live nearer to a greater volume of traffic than those without the disease. The study also found that the risk for asthma decreased the farther away a child lived from the road. Dracut did not figure in this part of the research.

"This finding stresses the importance of programs to reduce gaseous pollutants and particulates from vehicles," the report by the state Bureau of Environmental Health says.