CNT in the News

Brutal Cold Rough on Local Water Mains

Dayton Daily News | January 9, 2018

Below-zero temperatures expected Saturday will rise into the 30s on Sunday – a relief for many local residents, but a potential problem for those responsible for local water lines.

Public works officials say more water mains could break, increasing the toll taken on aging water systems.

“Dramatic swings in temperature from below to above freezing can cause problems with our buried infrastructure,” said Brianna Wooten, Montgomery County, OH Environmental Services communications coordinator.

Nationally, water mains rupture 240,000 times a year. The breaks along with faulty valves waste about 2.1 trillion gallons of treated drinking water a year, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. The loss equates to wasting roughly 14 percent of the already-treated water Americans use every day.




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All-Electric Bus Rapid Transit Launches on Old Stretch of Route 66

Curbed | December 20, 2017

Albuquerque, New Mexico, isn’t widely known as a transportation innovator. It’s biggest claim to fame in that regard may be the historic stretch of Route 66 that runs through downtown. But if the newly launched all-electric bus rapid transit (BRT) line, Albuquerque Rapid Transit, succeeds, the city may become a pioneer for a more sustainable, efficient, and most importantly, affordable means of urban mass transit.

The real revolution here, in addition to the all-electric fleet, is the speed of service. Many of the U.S. cities that have promoted BRT lines—which utilize bus-only lanes and quick-boarding stations in an effort to reproduce the benefits of light rail without expansive infrastructure investments—often don’t achieve the promised efficiencies due to poor design and lax signal priority.

The city’s outgoing Mayor Richard Barry pushed the mass transit investment as an economic catalyst. Albuquerque, which has a commuter rail connection to Santa Fe and an existing bus system, couldn’t afford light rail. But the more economical BRT, which would connect people, jobs, and businesses along the city’s main artery, was achievable, and projected to provide a $2 to $3 billion economic boost over the next few decades, according to a study by the Center for Neighborhood Technology.

Under construction since last October, the $126 million ART project, which benefitted from a number of federal grants, just had its soft launch, and will be fully operational in February, once final touches on stations are complete.

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Finding Solutions to Attainable Housing in Lee County, Florida

News-Press, Part of the USA Today Network | December 20, 2017

Southwest Florida is a paradise vacation spot, but for many residents, living and working in paradise is growing more unaffordable by the second. Lee County is struggling to fill the gap of attainable housing options for many people working in the area.

Attainable housing — costing 30 percent or less of an individual’s monthly income — is not widely available in Lee County. In fact, 49 percent of all households in the county spend 30 percent or more of their monthly income on rent.  The average Lee County household spends a total of 58 percent of its income on housing and transportation, according to the Center for Neighborhood Technology. 

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The Latest Plans for the O'Hare Express: Boon or Boondoggle?

Chicago Reader | December 14, 2017

On November 29, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the latest step in his grand scheme to create luxury high-speed express service between downtown and O'Hare. His office had issued what's known as a request for qualifications (RFQ) for concessionaires to plan, finance, construct, and run the route. Emanuel addressed reporters from within the empty shell of the partially completed, roughly $250 million "superstation" his predecessor Richard M. Daley built underneath Block 37, a symbol of that mayor's failure to achieve the same dream.

Emanuel said the multibillion-dollar initiative is crucial for Chicago's future, and argued that fortune favors the bold. "More than a century ago, Daniel Burnham encouraged Chicago to 'make no little plans,' " the mayor said in a statement, adding that the express "will build on Chicago's legacy of innovation and pay dividends for generations to come."

The Center for Neighborhood Technology's Scott Bernstein is doubtful that enough travelers would be willing to shell out big bucks for the premium airport service, which could include nicely upholstered chairs, work tables, and beverage service: "How much luxury do you need in 20 minutes?" But even if the express were to get sufficient use, Bernstein wonders if it would cannibalize Blue Line revenue. "Would they be raiding ridership from one part of the system to support another part?"


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After Harvey, Houston Has the Chance to Get Housing Right

Houston Chronicle | December 12, 2017

The urban ambitions of our government leaders — so easy to dismiss in the past as nice words with no budget — may get a serious infusion of funds because of Harvey.

The Texas delegation that Governor Abbott took to Washington D.C. lobbied for $61 billion beyond what the state already expects to receive from FEMA and the federal housing department. Almost two-thirds of the funds would go to floodgates, seawalls, dams and reservoirs.

Of the third for housing, $9 billion would be for housing assistance in the City of Houston, which would help rebuild 85,000 single and multifamily housing units damaged by Harvey. Even though that request has stalled for now and even if the final budget numbers are smaller, Houston could see an unprecedented investment in housing.

'A turning point'

"The post-Harvey disaster recovery could be a huge turning point that sets a positive course for the city," says Tom McCasland, Director of the City of Houston's Housing and Community Development Department. "The city can encourage multifamily housing where there is good transit, with service that is every 15 minutes during peak hours, and that is 100-percent affordable or has a mix [of affordable, workforce and market-rate housing]."

McCasland's emphasis on equitable transit-oriented development, or eTOD for policy geeks, would bring Houston in line with a national push for community development that considers housing and transportation costs together when measuring affordability.

Houstonians on average spend 45 percent of our income on housing and transportation together, according to a Center for Neighborhood Technology report. Houston could achieve a more affordable future by lining up housing investments and METRO's current services, and its capital planning.

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No Car Needed: Homeowners Get Creative with Alternative Uses for Parking Spots

Chicago Tribune | December 12, 2017

In the United States, there are overwhelmingly more parking spots than cars, and some clever homeowners and renters with vacant spaces are finding alternative ways to take advantage of this scenario. Estimates range from 3.4 to 8 spaces per vehicle, based on 2011 research from the University of California Transportation Center.

A 2016 study from the Center for Neighborhood Technology, a nonprofit organization focused on advocacy and research, looked at the garages and parking lots of 40 Chicago apartment buildings and found that one-third of the parking spots sat empty.

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