Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line launches today in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids, home to Michigan's first bus rapid transit line. (Ian Freimuth via Flickr)

Grand Rapids, home to Michigan’s first bus rapid transit line. (Ian Freimuth via Flickr)

Michigan‘s first bus rapid transit line launches this week, whisking passengers from downtown Grand Rapids through the city’s “Medical Mile” and south suburbs—a 9.6-mile journey that used to take 45 minutes will now be only a 27-minute commute, reported mlive.com.

Continue reading after the jump.

Construction finally underway on Detroit’s 3.3-mile-long M-1 rail line

The 80-foot, 3,000-pound rails that will become the M1 Rail track have begun to arrive in Detroit. (Courtesy image - M1 Rail)

The 80-foot, 3,000-pound rails that will become the M1 Rail track have begun to arrive in Detroit. (Courtesy M1 Rail)

After years of planning, Detroit‘s M-1 Rail Line took an important step into physical reality this week, as piles of 80-foot-long, 3,000-pound rails arrived on construction sites that will build the 3.3 mile streetcar line by the end of 2016. Read More

New Queens Public Plaza Shows Public Space Doesn’t Take All That Much

Bliss Plaza. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

Bliss Plaza. (Courtesy NYC DOT)

A new public plaza in Sunnyside, Queens proves that creating inviting public space doesn’t require lots of money and a lengthy design process – especially in a crowded city like New York. That’s certainly the case with Bliss Plaza, a recently-opened plaza tucked underneath the tracks of the 7 train. Frankly, there’s not all that much to it – save for a new sidewalk, some planters, and a handful of bright bistro tables and chairs. But here’s what Bliss Plaza does have: People. And that’s the key.

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Remembering Doug Wright, the man who helped tear down highways in San Francisco and Portland

Destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway (SF Chronicle)

Destruction of the Embarcadero Freeway (SF Chronicle)

San Francisco’s deputy mayor for transportation—who played an integral role in getting the city to tear down the Embarcadero Freeway after the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake—passed away on July 30th. He was 68. After the earthquake struck the city, Wright convinced former San Francisco mayor, Art Agnos, to help lead the effort to remove the highway and replace it—not with another highway, but instead with a boulevard at street level.

Continue reading after the jump.

Governor Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing NYC to Lower Speed Limit to 25MPH

Cuomo signing the legislation. (Courtesy New York Governor's Office)

Cuomo signing the legislation. (Courtesy New York Governor’s Office)

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill that allows New York City to lower its default speed limit from 30 miles per hour to 25. The legislation, which is expected to go into effect within 90 days, is part of the city’s ongoing effort to reduce traffic fatalities. Specifically, reducing the city’s speed limit has been one of the central pieces of Mayor de Blasio‘s Vision Zero agenda. “This is another vital step toward making New York City streets safer for every family,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement. “Our Vision Zero initiative’s mission is to save lives, and that is precisely what this legislation accomplishes.” 

 

 

 

 

Regional Plan Association’s Bob Yaro steps down as leader of New York planning group

Robert Yaro, left, and Tom Wright, right. (Courtesy Regional Plan Association)

Robert Yaro, left, and Tom Wright, right. (Courtesy Regional Plan Association)

The Regional Plan Association has announced that its president Bob Yaro is retiring and will be succeeded by its executive director Tom Wright. Yaro has been with the association for 25 years and served as its president since 2001. “I have been privileged over the last quarter century to guide RPA and help address some of the New York metropolitan region’s most pressing challenges,” Yaro said in a statement. “While I will miss working with the extraordinarily talented researchers and policy experts at RPA on a daily basis, I am thrilled to be leaving the organization in the hands of someone as accomplished and visionary as Tom Wright.” 

Slideshow> The Manhattan Tunnels of East Side Access

East Side Access underneath Manhattan.  (Courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

East Side Access underneath Manhattan. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transportation Authority / Patrick Cashin)

The MTA has released a new batch of images of the under-construction tunnels for its “East Side Access” project. For the uninitiated, East Side Access is the agency’s $10.8 billion plan to connect the Long Island Railroad with Grand Central Terminal. The project was initially scheduled to be completed by 2009, but, like so many large infrastructure projects, the East Side Access has been delayed. The project is now scheduled to open in 2023. All told, the project is expected to be $6.5 billion over budget.

Many more construction photos after the jump.

Improv Everywhere Turns Humid Subway Station into a Relaxing Spa

The 34th Street sauna. (Courtesy Improv Everywhere)

The 34th Street sauna. (Courtesy Improv Everywhere)

Between June and August, a New York City subway platform is a pretty awful place to find yourself. Over those summer months, the subway has all the smells, crowds, and delays you’re used  to with the unwelcome addition of a shockingly stubborn heat that couldn’t care less that you’re on your way to a job interview.

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Bomb Trains: Vice investigates the dangers of transporting crude oil by rail

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

After an oil train exploded in Lac Megantic, Quebec last year. (Flickr / EliasSchewel)

In a new video report, Bomb Trains: The Crude Gamble of Oil by Rail, Vice News investigated the risk of crude oil–carrying trains exploding as they crisscross North America. That isn’t some hypothetical risk that could be realized down the road—it’s already happening. Last summer, forty-seven people were killed when an oil-carrying train exploded in a small town in Quebec, and in the year since, four more trains have gone up in flames in the U.S. and Canada. With so many train lines carrying oil through the hearts of American cities, Vice highlights safety concerns for urban areas and rural alike.

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With promise and pitfalls, Washington D.C.’s new Silver Line hopes to transform the suburbs

Tysons Corner station. (Flickr / tracktwentynine)

Tysons Corner station. (Flickr / tracktwentynine)

It finally happened. After decades of planning, five years of construction, and months of delays, Washington D.C.‘s brand-new Silver Metro line welcomed over 50,000 commuters for its opening weekend. The new 11.4-mile line, which includes five new stations, will ultimately connect the city to Dulles Airport in Virginia. That part of the line is scheduled to open in 2018. The Silver line, though, is more than an attempt to connect a city with its airport—it’s the latest, multi-billion dollar effort to expand a rail system, spur economic development, and create more walkable, pedestrian-friendly destinations. So, yes, it’s ambitious. And, yes, it was expensive. Continue reading after the jump.

Julian Castro Sworn In As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development

Castro at today's swearing-in. (Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Castro at today’s swearing-in. (Courtesy Department of Housing and Urban Development)

Julian Castro, the former mayor of San Antonio, was sworn in Tuesday as the country’s next Secretary of Housing and Urban Development. Castro succeeds Shaun Donovan who was tapped to head the Office of Management and Budget. During Donovan’s tenure at HUD, he oversaw the Rebuild by Design competition, which selected its winners earlier this summer. Among his many responsibilities in his new role, Castro will likely be heavily involved in the execution of those projects, which include work from BIG, SCAPE, Penn Design/OLIN, OMA, Interboro, and MIT.

New York’s Port Authority Bus Terminal to get $90 million band-aid

Port Authority terminal. (Flickr / rosebennet)

Port Authority terminal. (Flickr / rosebennet)

Nobody likes the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. Nobody. And an infusion of $90 million probably won’t change that. According to the New York Times, the money, which was approved by the authority last week, will be used for fairly minor improvements including better cell phone service, improved restrooms, and more legible signs.

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