New Routes for High Speed Rail Funds

Midwest
Thursday, December 9, 2010
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It’s hard to imagine turning down $1.2 billion. That is, unless you’re the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio. The New York Times reported today that those two states officially withdrew claim to their shares of federal stimulus money awarded for construction of new rail corridors, citing concerns over subsidies needed to run the trains. Instead the money will be redirected to 13 other states. Ironically, both Wisconsin and Ohio had lobbied aggressively for big hunks of the $8 billion set aside for high-speed rail development in Obama’s stimulus package. Things changed when Republicans won both governorships, partly on the platform of denying the stimulus awards. Read More

Lean and Green

East, East Coast
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
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New York continues to "go green." (Courtesy Rickshaw Diaries)

Vice President Joe Biden announced nearly half-a-billion dollars in stimulus funding today to promote green retrofits nationwide, and the biggest winner, according to a Bloomberg administration release, is New York State, which took home $40 million of the $452 million pot. The money will go to two programs, the PACE loan program and Green Jobs-Green New York. The former provides low- or no-interest loans to property owners who buy energy efficient building materials, including insulation, solar panels, and geo-thermal systems, which are then paid back through taxes and utility payments, though the retrofits average out to 20 to 30 percent on energy usage over the life of the product. And Green Jobs-Green New York provides funding to launch training programs so there are capable workers who can build, install, and maintain this new wave of high-tech devices.

Stimulus Potholes

East Coast, National
Monday, January 11, 2010
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Men at work. Or not... (Courtesy Fremont.gov)

In a blistering report published today, the AP contends that the roughly $20 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, né the Stimulus, dedicated to road and infrastructure spending did nothing to help create jobs over the past 10 months. The news is particularly damning because the House has proposed another $28 billion in road work in its latest jobs package, and in light of this news, those critical infrastructure projects—which are easily pegged as pork to begin will—could become the next health care debate. To wit: Read More

Harlem In Bloom

East, East Coast
Monday, November 23, 2009
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This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

This row of apartment buildings along 135th Street, which are part of Section 8 housing, will get a green makeover starting next month.

A crumbling row of ten Renaissance Revival apartment buildings, which were once the first black-owned property in North Harlem, are about to be remade again as one of a growing number of affordable, sustainable housing complexes sprouting up across the city. The project, which according to the Daily News, is set to begin by year’s end, is being tackled by affordable housing guru Jonathan Rose and his Smart Growth Investment fund, who bought the buildings in January as the fund’s first acquisition in its cheap-and-green portfolio. Dattner Architects, experts on both affordable and sustainable housing, is responsible for the retrofits [PDF], which include a photovoltaic array on the roof, efficient energy systems, lighting controls, new windows and insulation, and sustainably sourced materials. In addition to making it a more conscientious project, it also makes it a more feasible one, as these features open it up to stimulus and HUD moneys targeted at sustainable buildings—to the tune of $3 million.

Shovels in the Ground

Other
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
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Aint She a Beaut: The $68 million reconstruction of an Interstate Overpass outside Portage, Michigan, was named the 2,000th stimulus project yesterday by President Obama.

Ain't She a Beaut: The $68 million reconstruction of an Interstate Overpass outside Portage, Michigan, was named the 2,000th stimulus project yesterday by President Obama.

Yesterday, President Obama made a visit to the Department of Transportation to applaud them and the rest of the nation for their work spending those stimulus dollars, marking the occasion of the 2,000th infrastructure project to be approved for Federal stimulus money. In his speech, the president joked that something unusual had happened at DOT and throughout the land: “We can utter a sentence rarely heard in recent years: This government effort is coming in ahead of schedule and under budget.” Read More

Stimulus, Coming to a Street Near You

East Coast, Other
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
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New York City's stimulus projects. (WNYC)

New York City's two-dozen stimulus projects. (WNYC)

First Recovery.gov, now the NYC Stimulus Tracker. Yesterday, when Mayor Michael Bloomberg unveiled the $1.1 billion in new infrastructure spending resulting from the city’s cut of the federal stimulus bill, he also announced the creation of a special website to lend transparency to the process, not unlike the model set out by our dear mayor. (Judging by WNYC and ProPublica’s Shovelwatch map, though, everyone’s getting in on the act, with all but five states and numerous municipalities launching such sites.) Read More

The Stimulus, Uploaded for Your Pleasure

Other
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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There has been a great deal of criticism that the Obama administration has failed to uphold a number of its campaign promises, such as shirking lobbyists and business-as-usual, and reaching across the aisle to craft bipartisan public policy. One thing that has not changed, however, is the commitment to open and transparent governance, particularly through the use of the World Wide Web. And so, today, Recovery.gov was launched, the better to help America keep tabs on the stimulus bill. Read More

On the Right Track?

Other
Wednesday, February 18, 2009
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(newtonxl/Flickr)

Yesterday afternoon in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. The process of doling out the spoils begins, as we wait, and hope, for the desired economic recovery. One piece of good news for urbanites and green transportation advocates, the bill includes $8 billion for high-speed rail, according to Politico. Read More

Stimulus and Sandwiches

East
Monday, February 16, 2009
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The second of the “Not Business as Usual” lunchtime conversation series last Wednesday at the Center for Architecture in New York had quite a turnout, including laid off designers, freelancers, and managers of struggling firms. Everyone was looking for ideas in these turbulent economic times. Read More

Keep Your Eye on the Oculus (UPDATE)

East Coast, Other
Thursday, January 29, 2009
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Should I stay or should I go now? That remains to be seen.

Should I stay or should I go now? That remains to be seen.

Even before the recession hobbled the MTA, the fate of the Fulton Street Transit Center was much in doubt. There had been talk of simply capping the site with a park, or building Grimshaw’s pavillion but without Jamie Carpenter’s signature oculus.

But according to a report this morning on WNYC, the MTA has decided to go forward with an above-ground building, though it could be sans oculus. And, for better or worse, there will be more retail opportunities (read: a mall), which, given Richard Ravitch’s contention that the MTA lacks a consistent, reliable funding stream, might not be such a bad idea. Read More

Big Turbine Keep On Turnin’

Other
Thursday, January 15, 2009
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Touchstone Architecture/Columbia River Crossing

Everyone seems to be talking about infrastructure and green jobs, which are expected to be a big part of any Federal stimulus package. One tension, however, is that a lot of infrastructure projects, especially highways, are anything but green. Here’s one plan that attempts to reconcile this discrepancy, a wind turbine-equipped bridge planned for Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Read More

Obama Goes Home

Other
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
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President-elect Barack Obama spoke to CNBC about the housing challenges facing the nation.

President-elect Barack Obama spoke to CNBC about the housing challenges facing the nation.

President-elect Barack Obama gave a half-hour interview to CNBC tonight (full interview here, transcript here) that was impressively policy heavy–a real treat for the wonks out there, though who isn’t these days–in advance of the unveiling of his nearly $800 billion stimulus package tomorrow. One of the issues he necessarily touched upon was the housing crisis (video), given its place at the center of the current meltdown. Read More

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