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Home » Archives » February 2011 » Making Freeways Obsolete

Friday, February 25th
Making Freeways Obsolete
GRID project overview
Click image for larger view
I have been following an extremely interesting development lately, the slow emergence into public view of GRID (formerly the [San] Gabriel River Infrastructure Development project, now expanding to Green Rail, Intelligent Development), which is a brilliant out-of-the-box concept that could make at least two of the Los Angeles area's most oppressive freeways--the 605 and the 710--obsolete, and viable candidates for teardown and replacement with something economically, socially, and environmentally healthy.

Using current technology, much of which is headquartered in Southern California, GRID is a comprehensive mobility system that would increase efficiency in freight handling, passenger movement, and utility delivery through a visionary comprehension of multi-level channeling technology that would reach, unobtrusively, from the great ports in San Pedro Bay to the railyards in the Inland Empire.

GRID would begin with an entirely new and far more compact system of integrated cargo cranes that would move containers directly between ships and railcars right on the docks, taking up far less space than the current ship-truck-train sequence; it would then place the following into bunker-strength concrete tunnels placed within the concrete banks of the San Gabriel River:
  • A tunnel for electric freight shuttle trains moving containers to the inland distribution centers
  • A second tunnel for light or heavy passenger rail, tying into existing Metro Rail, Metrolink, and Amtrak systems, as well as neighborhood stations
  • A greenway with bikepath along the full length of the river
  • Pleasing transit-oriented mixed-use developments providing healthy communities along a formerly bleak industrial corridor
The result?
  • Fewer trucks and cars on the road, polluting the air, arrogating valuable space, destroying community, and sucking down foreign oil
  • Faster and more efficient cargo movement both in and out of the ports, leading to greater economic activity
  • Healthy neighborhoods providing much-needed housing that is not dependent on expensive and soul-crushing automobile-oriented infrastructure
  • A more complete transit network, benefiting the entire region
  • The benefits of both increased parkland and increased tax receipts from greenway development along the river
  • The opportunity to tear down one and possibly two eyesore freeways and open the land they previously occupied to healthy development
  • The cancellation of billions of dollars in proposed "improvements" such as the ridiculous 710 tunnel that would only worsen congestion through induced demand
And it would use local labor and mostly local materials in its construction.

To read more, view or download the PDF at the link below:

GRID Project Overview

Richard Risemberg on 02.25.11 @ 05:08 AM PST [link]  

Friday, February 18th
HUD and NEA Call on South Florida Businesses to Join Campaign for More Livable Communities
If South Florida is going to remain a magnet for job growth, economic development and business opportunities, the region must include decent housing, quality schools, good transportation and a continued commitment to the arts sector. That was the message delivered to a group of business leaders today by U.S. Housing and Urban Development Deputy Secretary Ron Sims and Rocco Landesman, Chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts.

In a roundtable discussion on the campus of the New World Symphony in Miami, Sims and Landesman argued for a more holistic approach to community and economic development, one that includes a robust emphasis on linking arts and economic development. Sponsored by Southeast Florida Regional Partnership and the South Florida Cultural Consortium, the event was designed to demonstrate that working together, local government, the business sector and the arts industry, in partnership with the federal government, can be a powerful engine for job growth.

"President Obama is challenging us to 'win the future' by finding new approaches to old problems," said Sims. "South Florida is painting a new picture for itself, one that recognizes that the arts can not only enrich the soul, but can be good for business and economic growth as well."

Landesman added, "South Florida is a perfect case study in creative placemaking. They are taking stock of their creative assets and will use them to help enhance the region's social, physical, and economic character. South Florida will continue to be a vibrant community where people want to live, work, and play."

Last fall, HUD awarded $4.25 million to the South Florida Regional Planning Council of Hollywood. The funding will support new regional plans to create more sustainable communities throughout the South Florida Region. HUD's funding is part of nearly $100 million awarded nationwide through the department's new Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant Program to support more livable and sustainable communities across the country. These grants are intended to build economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools, a thriving creative sector, and transportation. This is one of two new HUD grant programs that directly encourage arts organizations to join these coalition-based regional planning efforts. The other is a joint HUD and DOT Sustainable Communities Challenge Grant Program.

HUD's funding will support the South Florida Regional Planning Council as it develops plans designed to yield a more prosperous, inclusive, and sustainable region. The Southeast Florida Regional Partnership already has 194 member and supporting organizations and can leverage $136 million in Federal, state, and local funds to create a region that is economically competitive and prosperous, socially inclusive, and environmentally sustainable.

Core partners include more than 125 agencies and entities, including 1000 Friends of Florida, Collins Center, Enterprise development Corporation of South Florida, Florida Public Health Institute, Hispanic Unity of Florida, Inc., Trust for Public Lands, University of Miami, Urban Land Institute, Miami Dade College and the Cities of Delray Beach, Fellesmere, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood, Key West, Lake Worth, Lauderdale Lakes, Margate, Miami, Miami Beach, Oakland Park, Pompano Beach, Port St. Lucie, Sebastian, Sunrise, West Palm Beach, and Weston. Another partner is the South Florida Cultural Consortium.

These grants are part of the Obama Administration's Partnership for Sustainable Communities, which brings HUD, the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency together to ensure that the agencies' policies, programs, and funding consider affordable housing, transportation, and environmental protection together. This interagency collaboration gets better results for communities and uses taxpayer money more efficiently. Coordinating federal investments in infrastructure, facilities, and services meets multiple economic, environmental, and community objectives with each dollar spent.

The Partnership is helping communities across the country to create more housing choices, make transportation more efficient and reliable, reinforce existing investments, and support vibrant and healthy neighborhoods that attract businesses. At a time when every dollar the federal government invests in jumpstarting the economy is critical, the President's plan ensures that all these agencies are coordinating efforts and targeting resources with precision. Reflecting this new collaboration, these grants were judged by a multidisciplinary review team, drawn from eight federal agencies and from partners in philanthropy.

Eric Miller on 02.18.11 @ 12:40 PM PST [link]  

Thursday, February 17th
Village at Colleyville
An article in the Grapevine Courier says a new urban community called the Village at Colleyville is experiencing robust home sales, but businesses are slow to move in. Ten years in the making, the community, the article states all of the 53 home are occupied. It seems obvious to us anyway that to support any notable number of businesses, the residential density will need to improve dramatically. Read the article.

Eric Miller on 02.17.11 @ 09:07 AM PST [link]  

Wednesday, February 9th
Don't Say I Didn't Tell Ya....
Alas, poor Saudis.

I knew them, Horatio. A country of infinite oil. Well, then again, maybe not. The Saudis have been in the global oil catbird seat for decades, and for decades, they have been able to manage the position. Seen by the world as the kingpin in global oil production as well as the primary member of (and spokesman for) OPEC, the media has long turned to the Saudis for the word on global oil production...and for years, their word was good.

No matter what else might happen to oil production anywhere else on earth, as long as the Saudis smiled and said everything was alright, everything was alright and everyone smiled. But now, after all of these years, we have to ask: Is it really alright, or do the Saudis know more than they dare to say? Their oil fields--their surplus oil production capacity-- have long been used to direct and control the price of oil on the global market. They have been the swing player, and it's a role they've enjoyed for a very long time. But now we have to ask: What if they are done in that role? And what does that mean for the rest of us?

By that, I don't mean they are running out of oil. They don't have to. All they have to do to throw the global market into a tailspin (and the price of oil to the moon, Alice) is admit that they can't make up the difference for anyone else's shortfall. We have, for years, managed to overlook the chaos in Nigeria, Chavez in Venezuela and declining oil production in so many countries that we had, in the past, depended upon, all because we knew the Saudis would be there for us, no matter what. The day the Saudis say they are at maximum oil production (or past it) is the day "peak oil" makes headlines around the world. The Saudis know that, and the Saudis rightfully fear that--as should we all.

After all of these years at the top of the oil heap, the Saudis are now in the unenviable position of being the guys that have to signal the downfall of the oil age. No, it's not their fault. They did the best they could for as long as they could, but everyone in the know knew the truth: We humans on planet earth are using oil infinitely faster than the earth can make it. We must, therefore, reach a point where we want more than we have. And that would a sign of peak oil.

My sympathy to the Saudis for allowing themselves the luxury of being the ones everyone is looking to right now. No one wants to be the bearer of bad news, and the public announcement of the arrival of peak oil would rank among the worst headlines possible. And that appears to be exactly what we (and the Saudis) are facing right now.

For the rest of us, good luck to one and all. Read all you can on the subject, and do what you can to be as ready as any of us might be, knowing whatever we do, it might not be enough. Be ready for change.

And keep your bike tires pumped.

See my New Colonist articles on Peak Oil for more: Ghawar is Dying, Peaking Ahead, Sixty Days Next Year, and my interviews on The New Colonist's podcast page. There's also my new book, Peak of the Devil, covering the subject in detail. Many thanks to The Guardian UK for breaking this story on WikiLeaks revelations of Peak Oil in Saudi.

Chip Haynes on 02.09.11 @ 01:33 PM PST [link]  

WikiLeaks Reveals Peak Oil in 2012
From the Guardian in London comes news that a document released by none other than WikiLeaks reveal there may not be enough oil reserves to keep a lid on prices. The released cables urge Washington to take seriously a warning from a senior Saudi government oil executive that the kingdom's crude oil reserves may have been overstated by as much as 300bn barrels," nearly 40 percent. The cables, which date between 2007-09, also indicate global oil production would have hit its highest point, or "peak oil" around 2012. Read the Guardian article Eric Miller on 02.09.11 @ 05:49 AM PST [link]