Five new apps put urban planning at your fingertips

oppspace

(Courtesy OpportunitySpace)

In the age of apps, we have seen basic human activities like eating, dating, shopping, and exercising be condensed into simple swipes and clicks. It’s a brave new world and one that has folded-in the complex process of financing, developing, and designing new projects. And in recent years, there has been a batch of new apps designed to help planners, architects, cities, and the general public create more livable cities. Here are a few of those apps that caught AN’s attention. Read More

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

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.

Twin Cities celebrate first inter-city rail connection in decades

Minneapolis Metro Transit Trains at Target Field Station. (Mark Danielson / Flickr)

Minneapolis Metro Transit Trains at Target Field Station. (Mark Danielson / Flickr)

For a metro area as widely praised for its alternative transportation options as Minnesota’s Twin Cities, it’s surprising Minneapolis and St. Paul are only now celebrating a new light rail connection between their downtowns. Read More

Austin Considers Building A Light Rail-Streetcar Hybrid

(Courtesy Project Connect)

(Courtesy Project Connect)

As part of continuing efforts in the Southwest to develop and improve transit systems, the City of Austin has announced its intention to build an urban rail system known as UltraRail that will run through the city’s eastern downtown.

Continue reading after the jump.

Michael Kimmelman Proposes A Queens-Brooklyn Waterfront Streetcar

The proposed streetcar route. (Courtesy New York Times)

The proposed streetcar route. (Courtesy New York Times)

As development along the Brooklyn and Queens’ waterfront has increased dramatically over the years, transportation options—for residents old and new—has not. The number of glass towers, startups, and parks along the East River has only been matched by style pieces on new “it” neighborhoods from Astoria to Red Hook. But, now, the New York Times’ Michael Kimmelman has used his platform to launch a plan to change that equation, and give these neighborhoods the transportation system they deserve.

Continue reading after the jump.

Designed in Chicago, Made in China: Blair Kamin, Chicago designers mull Chinese urbanization

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Chinese new year flags and lanterns in Shenzhen, the poster-city for rapid urbanization in China. (Flickr / dcmaster)

Blair Kamin convened a panel of designers at the Chicago Architecture Foundation last Wednesday for a discussion around themes explored in his recent series “Designed in Chicago, Made in China,” in which the Chicago Tribune architecture critic assessed the effects of that country’s rapid development on urbanism and design. Read More

Frustrated transit advocates blast ballot delay by Detroit’s Regional Transit Agency

detroit_light_rail_01

Detroiters have heard before that the Motor City could see better mass transit as soon as 2015. Local and state leaders came together in 2012 to form the area’s first regional transit agency (RTA), but Streetsblog reported locals are losing patience with Michigan’s newest RTA.

More after the jump.

Our Crisis: Engineer Considers Options for Houston’s Transportation Future

Eavesdroplet, Southwest, Transportation
Thursday, February 20, 2014
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Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

Houston. (Paul Sableman / Flickr)

It’s no secret that Houston is going through a growth spurt. The city currently has four central business districts that, if separated, would each be among the country’s top 15 employment centers. In the next 30 years, 3.5 million people are projected to move to the 8-county region, with two million of those concentrated in Harris County.

Continue reading after the jump.

Cincinnati City Council Puts Brakes on Streetcar Construction

Midwest
Monday, December 9, 2013
.

cincy_streetcar_01

In what the Cincinnati Enquirer called “a meeting filled with fire and suspense,” City Council voted 5-4 to halt construction on its $133 million streetcar project.

Read More

Obama Selects Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx As Next DOT Secretary

National
Monday, April 29, 2013
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Mayor Anthony Foxx (Courtesy City of Charlotte)

Mayor Anthony Foxx. (Courtesy City of Charlotte)

White House officials revealed on Sunday that Charlotte, North Carolina Mayor Anthony Foxx will be named President Barack Obama’s next Secretary of the Department of Transportation, replacing outgoing Secretary Ray LaHood.

The Charlotte Observer reported that Foxx rose to prominence last year when his city hosted the Democratic National Convention, and has garnered continued attention for his efforts to tackle Charlotte’s transportation challenges, from expanding the Charlotte Douglas International Airport, to extending the city’s light-rail system, and brining street cars to the city-center.

The 42-year old Mayor was first elected in 2009, then re-elected in 2011 with 70 percent of the vote. Earlier this month Foxx announced that he would be leaving office at the end of the year to spend more time with his family, though now it appears those plans have changed. If his nomination is confirmed, Foxx will assume his position July 4th.

Video> Los Angeles’ Regional Connector Subway Line Coming Into Focus

West
Wednesday, February 13, 2013
.

A new video released by LA METRO gives us all a much clearer conception of the construction sequencing of the Regional Connector, the 1.9 mile downtown underground light rail line that will connect Los Angeles’ now-dispersed Gold, Blue, and Expo lines. The $1.3 billion connector, funded largely by 2008’s Measure R sales tax increase, is set to begin construction later this year. It will travel primarily under Flower Street and 2nd Street, and is set to open by 2019. Movement of utilities around the line began in December. Yes, more transit in Los Angeles. This is really happening!

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