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Transportation as Revitalization Strategy

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  • 1. Review of Transportation and Infrastructure Improvements as a Revitalization Strategy John-Mark Palacios URP 6545 Urban Revitalization Strategy Yanmei Li 19 February 2013
  • 2. Palacios ii Table of Contents List of Figures.............................................................................................................iii List of Tables..............................................................................................................iv Executive Summary.....................................................................................................1 Introduction ...............................................................................................................2 Background and Geographical Context...........................................................................................................2 History...........................................................................................................................................................................5 Implementation..........................................................................................................5 Success factors............................................................................................................9 Case Studies..............................................................................................................11 Atlanta........................................................................................................................................................................11 Fort Lauderdale......................................................................................................................................................12 Conclusion................................................................................................................13 References................................................................................................................14
  • 3. Palacios iii List of Figures Figure 1. Sidewalk improvements in Duluth, GA.....................................................................11 Figure 2. Rendering of a Sistrunk Blvd. intersection with buildings...............................12
  • 4. Palacios iv List of Tables Table 1. USDOT Performance Measures for TIGER Grants.....................................................9 Table 2. Performance measures from Maine DOT's Gateway Route 1 project............10
  • 5. Palacios 1 Executive Summary Transportation and infrastructure development is an effective strategy for urban revitalization. Whether done prior to a redevelopment project or with the intent of spurring redevelopment, the strategy can be a good choice for the planner trying to improve a city, a neighborhood, or a corridor. In some cases regulations might require capacity improvements in conjunction or prior to a new development, so that is always a consideration. If certain transportation or utility capacity goals must be met, the reconstruction also provides opportunity to ensure other goals, such as livability, walkability, and sustainability, are met. The strategy has been tested in many areas, including Atlanta, Georgia, and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Sound overall planning in this area should also make it easier to secure funding for pieces of a large project.
  • 6. Palacios 2 Introduction Improving transportation and other infrastructure is often used to encourage redevelopment in an area. Sometimes the strategy has been to beautify the public spaces and let the private building owners be inspired to improve their properties. Other times the transportation improvement comes first with a specific redevelopment strategy for the surrounding land use to follow. If the improvement also adds capacity or permanent transit features to an area, it is also likely to spur redevelopment that takes advantage of the large influx of people into the corridor. Transportation capacity improvements or additions to the transportation network can spur new development in rural areas and otherwise shift general development patterns, whether these consequences are planned or not. This report will analyze the where, why, when, what, who, and how of the implementation of transportation and infrastructure improvements as a redevelopment strategy. We will look at some of the tools used to measure the success of the outcome and look at two cases where local communities have implemented the strategy. Background and Geographical Context Transportation facilities are everywhere, as without them we could not move around and conduct our daily business. Different types of facilities are located in different areas and tend to affect development in different ways. There are urban facilities, which on the block scale might include local streets, on-street parking, sidewalks, bike lanes, streetcars, buses and related infrastructure. These urban
  • 7. Palacios 3 facilities also typically include other infrastructure such as water pipes, sewer pipes, power lines, communications lines (phone, cable TV, fiber optic, etc.), gas lines. These other infrastructure types are so common that improvements to an urban roadway always include coordination between the designers and the utility agencies to determine where conflicts are. SimCity, the popular city-building simulation game, has nodded to the seeming inseparableness of transportation infrastructure with utilities by simplifying the road network in their latest version to incorporate water, sewer, and electric lines by default.1 Modern urbanized areas generally have multiple urban clusters, requiring transportation and infrastructure connections between the clusters as well as feeding the clusters from outlying areas. This type of transportation infrastructure can include some of the same elements as urban streets, but the roadway facilities are usually wider, including arterial and collector streets as well as freeways. The transit facilities could include not only streetcars but also light rail, commuter rail, and even bus rapid transit facilities. Some of the clusters are developed around train stations in transit oriented development. Transportation and infrastructure also connects cities and regions. The transportation facilities include rural roadways, the interstate highway system, intercity passenger and freight rail, and even canals and the intracoastal waterway. Development patterns often consist of cities or suburbs springing up along the transportation lines, such as near a highway interchange or a rail station. Airports and seaports serve a similar purpose of connecting cities and regions, but their
  • 8. Palacios 4 location in or adjacent to urban areas will affect development and redevelopment patterns in urban areas. Other infrastructure connecting cities or regions could include long distance electric transmission lines and communications lines. These serve a support function and may be necessary to attract a certain type of industry such as heavy industrial or high tech within the city. Florida also includes space as a transportation mode,2 which serves primarily to develop and attract a growing high tech industry. In the future it could connect cities in space with cities here. Currently the focus of these efforts has been centered around the “Space Coast” region which includes Cape Canaveral, but with the right transportation and infrastructure connections to this region, industries could begin to spread to Orlando or even south towards Miami. Additional infrastructure could include flood control structures, landfills and recycling stations, or antenna towers.3 These tend to be spot locations that are less tied into the road network. They all serve a crucial support function to conducting business and living within a city or region, so planning efforts do need to account for them. Typically the scale is larger, with water management controlled on a regional basis by entities such as the South Florida Water Management District,4 waste disposal facilities often run by counties or regional private enterprises, and antenna towers often run by national or multi-state cellphone and communications companies. In order to limit the scope of this report, we will focus on those transportation and infrastructure facilities that affect urban development.
  • 9. Palacios 5 History Transportation has been spurring development and redevelopment for years. In the 1800s the transcontinental railroad brought about a giant boom in westward development for the United States. The development of the next national transportation system, the interstate highway system, paved the way for the development of suburbs and urban sprawl, allowing bedroom communities to spring up far from urban business districts. Within cities, the streetcar began the development transformation from one centered around walkability to a larger scale. While many streetcar lines were shut down in the mid-1900s, today cities such as Fort Lauderdale clamor to have streetcars in order to spur redevelopment of their downtowns.5 Implementation Transportation and infrastructure is typically implemented in public spaces, whether in downtowns, urban clusters, or connecting these areas. Public roadways require right-of-way owned by a government agency, whether municipal, county, or state. Utilities are either located within these rights-of-way or in easements purchased from private property owners, so they are still public spaces. Rail lines also require their own rights-of-way if they do not share space with the street. , is These are often owned by private companies who were granted eminent domain powers, although in some cases a government agency purchases the right-of-way. As a local example, Tri-rail tracks were purchased from the CSX Corporation by the Florida Department of Transportation in order to run their commuter rail service.
  • 10. Palacios 6 Train stations, airports, or seaports, while generally including an element of public space, generally consist of buildings and other facilities that may be located on private right-of-way owned by the port or rail agency. To continue the Tri-Rail example, South Florida Regional Transportation Authority, the entity that manages Tri-Rail, owns some station locations, while FDOT owns others. Often the transportation and infrastructure development is directed at downtown areas in need of redevelopment, through the plan of a Community Redevelopment Agency or other local plan. The purpose is to encourage more economic investment in the area, improve the quality of life of residents and workers, and of course provide mobility and connectivity options for the area.6 Typically government agencies develop the transportation infrastructure. These could include state departments of transportation, county government, city government, Community Redevelopment Agencies, downtown development authorities, transit agencies, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and others. In some cases the transportation infrastructure is developed by private enterprise, as was historically the case with the railroads and streetcars. Florida East Coast Industries owns rail tracks that helped build the entire South Florida area and now continues to provide freight service. This company is developing passenger rail service to connect Miami, Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, and Orlando, which should encourage economic development in these areas. Since the company also owns real estate near the stations, they are intending to stimulate development on their own properties.7
  • 11. Palacios 7 Like any good redevelopment plan, residents, workers, and the business community should also be involved in the development. This could be achieved through meetings with homeowners or residents associations, or by collaboration with a local Chamber of Commerce. Transportation improvements often come before any other redevelopment is implemented. The city of Oakland Park’s CRA, for example, set about redeveloping their main street before the private development came in. Their plan called for redevelopment of this transportation corridor that would also complement several public-private partnerships along this street.8 The plan was approved in 2005, and the improvements to the main street were completed by 2009.9 Over 3 years later, the private development has not yet materialized—but the point is that the transportation improvement was built first. Utility and other infrastructure improvements could be built with the transportation improvements, or they could be built independently. Hollywood CRA has proposed moving the power lines that are currently overhead to underground as part of their redevelopment plan in order to improve the aesthetics of their beach area. Typical improvements in an urban area include sidewalk improvements to make the area more walkable. This could include widening the sidewalk to allow sidewalk cafes, more space to walk, and a buffer between the pedestrian space and the traffic space. This buffer space, the “furniture zone,” might include street trees to provide shade, beauty, and clean air; benches to provide relaxation, bus shelters to improve
  • 12. Palacios 8 transit access, lighting to improve nighttime safety, bike racks or even bike sharing stations to allow better access by bicycle, public art, and utility or signal cabinets. Improvements might also include bicycle facilities such as on-road bike lanes, shared use paths, or separated cycle tracks. For the automobile portion of the roadway, investment could include on-street parking, reduction in the number of lanes, switching to or from a one-way street, an increase in the number of lanes, or a conversion to a pedestrian-only street. Transit improvements besides shelters could include dedicated bus lanes, bus rapid transit infrastructure, streetcar or light rail tracks and stations, or subway or elevated rail stations. Pretty much any fixed guideway transit would offer a sense of permanence, add economic development, and provide an incentive for redevelopment. Infrastructure improvements could include the already mentioned undergrounding of utilities for beautification purposes or to reduce storm vulnerability, but it could also include adding capacity in order to support new uses or additional density. High rises might need a larger water main and sewer system on the adjacent street, high tech companies would need a fiber optic communications cable to provide sufficient internet bandwith, and industry would need high voltage power lines to run machinery. These would be planned accordingly depending on the specific goals for an area or a street.
  • 13. Palacios 9 Success factors With recent government grants such as TIGER for transportation improvements, performance has been a clear expectation. Table 1 shows some performance measures used by the US Department of Transportation in the TIGER grants that have been issued. For any projects that add capacity, whether to transportation or for utilities, the measures are quite simple. Planned development will generate so many trips, require so many gallons per minute of water, or require so many volts of electricity. If you have met the projected development capacity you have achieved success. Capacity is not the only performance measure, however. The performance measures in Table 1 are all transportation related more than economic related, but the USDOT also claims that “Livability and Sustainability are at the heart of TIGER’s selection criteria.”11 The criteria do not appear to be widely available, however. While criteria such as Automobile Level of Service or traffic counts have been around for years, determining livability criteria for transportation improvements is a fairly new area for transportation professionals. USDOT published the “Livability in Transportation Guidebook” that has some discussion of the concepts, but does not spell out hard Table 1. USDOT Performance Measures for TIGER Grants.10
  • 14. Palacios 10 and fast guidelines. The guidebook analyzed some case studies, however, which had some performance measures determined by the agency. Table 2 shows the performance measures developed by Maine DOT for a corridor visioning project. Performance area Mobility Accessibility Jobs-housing balance Rural Lands and Habitat Community Character Specific measures Vehicle-miles traveled (VMT) Transit ridership Accessibility to jobs Acres conserved Viewshed Impact Traffic volumes Walkability Accessibility to retail Habitat Impacts Commercial Strip Impacts Level of Service (LOS) Bikeability Emergency medical response Housing in core growth areas Jobs in core growth areas Table 2. Performance measures from Maine DOT's Gateway Route 1 project.12 These are some measures that could be used, but there is a lot of flexibility in this area. If a project is pursuing a grant, planners will undoubtedly endeavor to tailor it to any performance measures that are included in that grant. With the shifting trend at the national level away from pure capacity measures towards a measure of economic benefits and livability improvements, we should see better projects in the future.
  • 15. Palacios 11 Case Studies Atlanta The metropolitan area of Atlanta, Georgia, has issues with congestion on its roadways to the point where a typical resident has one of the longest commutes to work in the nation. Low density development has also contributed to a rapid loss of green spaces in the area. The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) established a grant program called the Livable Centers Initiative in 1999 in order to improve the quality of life by addressing these areas. This program sought to connect businesses and residences, improve walkability, and add transit and housing options throughout the region. From 2000 to 2011, 93 planning studies were funded. The ARC measured success by sending a survey to local government staff. The vast majority of respondents had not only adopted the Livable Centers Initiative, but also incorporated them into their comprehensive plan.13 Figure 1. Sidewalk improvements in Duluth, GA.13
  • 16. Palacios 12 Fort Lauderdale Fort Lauderdale, Florida, has a neighborhood that has often been viewed as run- down, crime-ridden, with drug lords cruising the streets. This neighborhood, located on the wrong side of the CSX tracks (west) and just to the north of the downtown, has a high population of people with low incomes with 41% below the poverty level, and 83% of housing occupied by renters. The city decided to redevelop one of the main east-west roads running through this neighborhood, Sistrunk Blvd. This reconstruction involved reducing the number of lanes on Sistrunk and providing significant pedestrian improvements, including artistic lighting.14 No bike facilities were included on the project. Some rumors I have heard from FDOT staff are that they were not included because the police didn’t want to encourage drug dealers, who often rode their bicycles. According to Renee Cross at the city of Fort Lauderdale, no bike lanes were installed due to lack of coordination between the Public Works department doing the project and the other city planning offices.15 Despite one issue with the plan, most of the project intent was good. Since Sistrunk was a county owned road, there was some disagreement between the city and county, Figure 2. Rendering of a Sistrunk Blvd. intersection with buildings.14
  • 17. Palacios 13 who wanted to continue using the road to move traffic.16 The differences were resolved and the reconstruction project is now complete. The eventual development plans are shown in Figure 2. Conclusion This is an effective redevelopment strategy that has been tried and tested in many places. The federal government is embracing it as a strategy and beginning to incorporate some of the performance measures into its grant programs, so the opportunity is ripe for improving transportation and other infrastructure in order to spur redevelopment or to complement planned redevelopment.
  • 18. Palacios 14 References 1 Price, D. (2013). We built this city… the SimCity legacy: Past, present and future – preview. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.shanethegamer.com/?p=2809 2 FDOT aviation - space programs. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.dot.state.fl.us/aviation/space.shtm 3 Forman, M. B., & Mooney, J. (1999). Learning to lead: A primer on economic development strategies (pp. 26). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub. 4 SFWMD about us. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb about us/sfwmd about us 5 Palacios, J. (2008). Wave rolls on. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.transitmiami.com/transit/wave-rolls-on 6 Forman, M. B., & Mooney, J. (1999). Learning to lead: A primer on economic development strategies (pp. 27). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt Pub. 7 Viglucci, A. (2012). Passenger trains to run from miami to orlando. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/08/09/2943014/trains-to-run- from-miami-to-orlando.html#storylink=misearch 8 COMMUNITY REDEVELOPMENT AREA (CRA) PLAN. (2005). Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.oaklandparkfl.org/news/cra/cra_plan.cfm 9 Himelberger, P. (2009). CITY UPDATE. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.oaklandparkmainstreet.com/enews/12-09/ 10 U.S. Department of Transportation. (2011). TIGER discretionary grant program: Driven by performance. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/TIGER_DISCRETIONARY_GRANT_PR OGRAM.pdf 11 U.S. Department of Transportation. (2011). TIGER discretionary grant program: Livability and sustainability. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.dot.gov/sites/dot.dev/files/docs/TIGER_LIVABILITY_SUSTAINABILITY .pdf 12 Rue, H., McNally, L., Rooney, K., Santalucia, P., Raulerson, M., Lim-Yap, J., . . . Burden, D. (2010). Livability in transportation guidebook: Planning approaches that promote livability. ( No. FHWA-HEP-10-028). 13 Biton, A. (2012). Atlanta regional commission’s livable centers Initiative— Supporting plans for a better quality of life. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/livability/case_studies/atlanta/index.cfm 14 Urban Design Associates. (2008). Northwest/progresso/flagler heights implementation plan. Retrieved 2/19, 2013, from http://www.yumpu.com/en/document/fullscreen/4426631/urbandesignassociate s-city-of-fort-lauderdale/18 15 Cross, R. (2013). 16 Wyman, S. (2010, 10/12/10). Work on sistrunk boulevard facelift to begin next month. The Sun Sentinel