CNT unveils updated Housing + Transportation Affordability Index

Last week, the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT) unveiled its updated Housing and Transportation Affordability (HTA) Index. HTA provides a comprehensive measure of affordability by quantifying the combined costs of housing and transportation in communities across the U.S. The updated HTA Index provides a wealth of economic, demographic, geographic and environmental data to support improvements in equity and economic well-being through better transportation options and reductions in transportation-inefficient development.

Off-street parking access linked to higher VMT

When it comes to parking in new residential developments, planners often face stakeholders with two opposing positions. Some want land-use authorities to require lots of off-street parking in order to avoid over-demand for street spots. Others complain that all that off-street parking will just induce more traffic; if authorities require anything, they should set parking maximums, not minimums. A new study by Rachel Weinberger of the University of Pennsylvania provides evidence for the latter view.

Impacts of light rail on property values vary by distance and income level

A new study on the economic impacts of New Jersey’s River Line light rail system has shed some light on the complex relationship between transportation infrastructure and the housing market. The study highlights the more localized economic effects of the light rail system. The results provide an interesting opportunity for transit managers and planners to consider the varied effects new transportation infrastructure may have on different types of surrounding property.

Rhode Island DOT uses ITS to make commuting easier for drivers

The Rhode Island DOT has begun using Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to make driving go more smoothly on major state-owned roads around Providence. Cameras on highways and digital signs allow both DOT officials and commuters to monitor traffic flow and plan their routes accordingly. According to Joseph Bucci, head of the Transportation Management Center, the state “can’t build [itself] out of congestion. We need to try to do things better to manage [congestion] using technology.”

Oregon leads the way on use of solar installations for transportation facilities

Although begun in 2008, the largest component yet of the Oregon Solar Highway recently opened on I-5 in Clackamas County. The Baldock project, a public-private partnership between ODOT and Portland General Electric (PGE), is an array in a safety rest area near Wilsonville. Solar installations in transportation corridors are common in Europe, but are almost unknown in the U.S. However, Oregon plans more, and has also produced a manual, which can be downloaded.

Michigan-Chicago route gains 110 mph passenger rail, and other Midwest states seem eager to follow

Last week, Amtrak service in western Michigan and northern Indiana reached speeds of 110 miles per hour, marking the first expansion of regional high-speed rail in the U.S. outside of the northeast corridor. Other states seem eager to follow, and more upgrades within Illinois are already planned.

Congress is still wrestling with Positive Train Control requirements

The increased Amtrak speeds in Michigan and Indiana followed the Federal Railroad Administration’s approval after successful implementation of a Positive Train Control (PTC) system. PTC, first mandated by Congress in 2008, is a technology used in trains that is meant to avoid human error and prevent crashes. But now it is under attack from House Republicans.