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.

Former DOT Secretary Ray LaHood Assumes New Roles

ray-lahood-opt

Obama’s former Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood has accepted two new jobs since resigning his post last July. First, he has joined a bipartisan group focused on improving national transportation policy. LaHood will be co-chair of Building America’s Future along with Former New York Mayor Bloomberg (I) and former Pennsylvania Gov. Rendell (D). “I am delighted to join Building America’s Future as a co-chair and am excited to work together with some of the nation’s most innovative public leaders,” LaHood said in a statement. Also this month, LaHood announced he will be joining law firm DLA Piper as a senior consultant, according to StreetsBlog. A spokesperson said he will hold a strictly advisory role at the mega-firm and will not become a lobbyist.

Video> Ray LaHood Says Congress is Scared to Make Infrastructure Investments

City Terrain, National
Monday, December 9, 2013
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After the fatal MetroNorth crash in New York City last week, former Obama administration Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood claimed that Washington is “afraid” to invest in transportation infrastructure improvement. On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program, LaHood said the recent train tragedy was only another example of the problems lurking in America’s infrastructure and that the $48 billion set for transportation use by the economic recovery plan was “not enough money,” something Congressional members later acknowledged. Only in states where the people have voted for infrastructure referendums is progress occurring. He called for nationwide leadership to follow suit.

Chicago Riverwalk gets $99 million loan from feds

Midwest
Thursday, June 20, 2013
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Chicago riverwalk (Courtesy Sasaki Associates)

Chicago riverwalk. (Courtesy Sasaki Associates)

Chicago’s plan to extend and revamp its downtown riverwalk got a major shot in the arm from the feds last week.

U.S. Dept of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the federal government will loan the city $99 million under the Transportation Finance Innovation Act, a program geared at transportation projects of “national and regional significance.” Mayor Rahm Emanuel had previously set his sights on just such funding, as well as financial sponsors for ongoing maintenance.

The project, which is scheduled to be finished by 2016, hopes to draw more attention to the riverfront. Designs by Sasaki Associates, Alfred Benesch & Co., Ross Barney Architects, and Jacobs/Ryan Associates call for six unique identities across six downtown blocks of the Chicago River, such as The Jetty, The Cove, and The River Theater. Read more about the design in AN‘s previous report.

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.

Report: NTSB Chair Front Runner For Next Secretary of Transportation.  Report: NTSB Chair Front Runner For Next Secretary of Transportation With Ray LaHood out as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, observers have been speculating on who might take the nation’s top transportation post. According to The Hill blog, the latest front-runner is standing National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) chair Deborah Hersman, replacing LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who has said he wants to focus on his remaining time in office. Hersman has said she is not interested in the job, and according to the Hill, the NTSB responded in a statement, “Chairman Hersman’s full attention is focused on the important work of running the NTSB.”  [Via Planetizen.]

 

Detroit Light Rail Back On Track With $25 Million Grant

Midwest
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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What light rail could look like in Detroit. (Courtesy M1 Rail)

What light rail could look like in Detroit. (Courtesy M1 Rail)

Outgoing U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced recently that Detroit’s M-1 Rail project, aka the Woodward Light Rail Line, will receive $25 million in federal TIGER funding. The plans for this 3-mile long light rail system along Woodward Avenue will include 11 stops running from the city’s downtown to New Center. According to the Detroit Free Press, $100 million has already been raised of the light rail line’s $140 million price tag. Officials said the first trains could be running by the end of 2015.

View the light rail route map after the jump.

Farewell Ray: LaHood Leaving Post as Transportation Secretary

National
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
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Ray LaHood. (Courtesy USDOT Fast Lane Blog)

Ray LaHood. (Courtesy USDOT Fast Lane Blog)

Last month, Ray LaHood made an off-the-cuff remark at a post-inaugural party that he would be “sticking around for a while” as President Obama’s Secretary of Transportation, but last week LaHood made his final decision to step down from the position after four years on the job.  The Republican made a name for himself in urbanist circles for his support of High Speed Rail, efficient urban transportation policies, and safety pushes, most notably his efforts to curb distracted driving. Reflecting on his tenure at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), LaHood remarked in a letter to DOT employees across the country,

“Our achievements are significant. We have put safety front and center with the Distracted Driving Initiative and a rule to combat pilot fatigue that was decades in the making. We have made great progress in improving the safety of our transit systems, pipelines, and highways, and in reducing roadway fatalities to historic lows. We have strengthened consumer protections with new regulations on buses, trucks, and airlines.”

In an exit interview with the Huffington Post, LaHood said, “We are behind on high-speed rail,” but remained optimistic that the topic will still maintain a top spot his successor’s agenda: “As long as President Obama is in the White House, whoever sits in this chair will have high-speed rail as one of their top priorities.” LaHood will continue in his role as Secretary until his successor is found.

Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty.  Ray LaHood to Continue as Transportation Secretarty Ray LaHood will stay on as U.S. Secretary of Transportation for President Obama’s second term, a reversal from statements he made last year. Bloomberg is reporting that LaHood said he would be “sticking around for a while” during an inauguration ball last night, but he and a DOT spokesperson declined to elaborate or say how long he might remain with the administration. LaHood has been a strong proponent of high speed rail, among other forward-thinking transportation concepts gaining traction in cities across the country. He said recently at Chicago’s Urban Forum, “High-speed rail is coming to America. There’s no stopping it. We are not going back.”

 

Quick Clicks> Lahood Rides, High Line Booms, Detroit Blooms, Weiner Wilts

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
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Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood biked to work yesterday morning (courtesy Department of Transportation).

Lahood Bikes to Work: The Transportation Secretary biked to work with other DOT commuters yesterday morning, as seen in this video. He wrote, “The route was safe and well-marked; we enjoyed some exercise; and we didn’t burn a drop of gas–which saved us some money.” Since taking office in 2009, the former Republican congressman has prioritized light rail development and overseen $600 million in TIGER II grants to projects that promote livability. John Norquist, president of the Congress for New Urbanism, tells us Lahood is the best Transportation Secretary this country has seen since Secretary Coleman under President Ford.

The High Line: “Economic Dynamo.” The New York Times reports “preserving the High Line as a public park revitalized a swath of the city and generated $2 billion in private investment surrounding the park.” The development of the High Line (the second section of which opens tomorrow) has spurred the construction of hundreds of deluxe apartments, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques nearby and the addition of 12,000 jobs, which more than make up for the $115 million the city spent on the park.

Can Detroit Come Back? With a dwindling population, low literacy rates and vacant housing, Detroit is one of America’s biggest underdogs. But the city’s woes also make it the perfect laboratory for experiments like Hantz Farms plan to create the world’s largest urban farm. OnEarth takes a look at the different ideas percolating in Detroit.

Anthony Weiner on Bike Lanes: Anthony Weiner’s getting some serious flack, but let’s not forget: he also hates bike lanes, says Transportation Nation. At a Gracie Mansion dinner for New York’s Congressional Delegation last June, Weiner told Mayor Bloomberg: “When I become mayor, you know what I’m going to spend my first year doing? I’m going to have a bunch of ribbon-cuttings tearing out your [expletive] bike lanes.”

Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

Daily Clicks
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
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High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: “It looks like Scott’s tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!”

Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak‘s coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it’s time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign.

Buffalo’s Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That’s what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley’s hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with “young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work.”

Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country’s oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.

QUICK CLICKS> Restored, Represented, Drafted (event tonight!)

Daily Clicks
Thursday, March 10, 2011
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The Secretariat building in Chandigarh, designed by Le Corbusier and completed 1954. Ben Leply/flickr.

Dilapidated modernism. Chandigarh, the northern Indian city planned and designed by Le Corbusier over 60 years ago, has become the focus of preservation efforts following years of neglect and piecemeal plundering, reports the UK’s Guardian.

Cycle support. Ray LaHood, Secretary of Transportation, spoke to attendees of the National Bike Summit in DC this week, encouraging them to lobby their congressional reps to take steps to make communities cycle-friendly. Streetsblog notes LaHood’s appearance coincides with the release of the Urban Bikeway Design Guide by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.

Pier on the half shell. The Battery Park City Authority has leased the languishing Pier A at the western edge of Battery Park to father-and-son restaurateurs Harry and Peter Poulakakos, who are promising to turn the pier and its landmark 1886 building into an oyster bar-beer garden with one heck of a view. More details in Crain’s NY.

Tonight: Drafted! In New York? Don’t miss AN executive editor Julie Iovine in conversation with Michael Graves, Granger Moorehead, Gisue Hariri and Jeffrey Bernett at 7pm tonight, Thursday, March 10 at the Museum of Arts and Design for Drafted: The Evolving Role of Architects in Furniture Design, part of MAD’s “The Home Front: American Furniture Now” series. Click here for tix.

 

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