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March 2012 Blog posts

Congress punts again on transportation bill: Passes ninth extension

Photo courtesy of Flickr user davidwilson1949

Though it seemed likely this week that Congress would finally approve a long-term transportation authorization, instead today, March 29, the House and Senate approved a ninth extension of SAFETEA-LU, the federal transportation law that expired in 2009. The extension will last 90 days. Because the House takes a two-week break beginning tonight, the Senate had little choice but to go along with passage of the extension to avert a total shutdown of transportation construction programs. The current law – and the authorization to collect the federal motor fuel tax to fund it – was set to expire this Saturday, March 31. Unable to muster enough votes to pass their version of a long-term transportation bill, H.R. 7, House leaders refused to allow a vote on H.R.14, identical to the…

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Gas tax expiration looms, as Reps. Dold, Biggert, Quigley offer strategy to advance transportation bill

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Steven Vance

The federal law that authorizes transportation investments and the federal motor fuel taxes that pays for them expires in three days, on Saturday, March 31. If Congress allows the bill to expire, the Chicago region will lose $1.2 million a day in federal public transit funding. Congress has two options: Pass the two-year, $109 billion MAP-21 bill approved by the Senate. Approve the ninth extension of the existing authorizing legislation, SAFETEA-LU, which expired in Sept. 2009 and has been extended eight times to date. Option two does not seem to have legs: Last night (March 26), House Republicans pulled a three-month, stop-gap extension of SAFETEA-LU from the floor after realizing they did not have the 218 votes needed to approve it. Democratic leaders in the House oppose yet…

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Rehabbed homes available in the south and near west suburbs – read on!

Photo courtesy of Lisa Thompson at Century 21

This home - 169 East 16th Place, Chicago Heights - is currently available through the Cook County Neighborhood Stabilization Program

Authored with Christina Harris, MPC Research Assistant As two clusters of neighboring communities in south and west Cook County work to address foreclosures, new and rehabbed homes are coming on the market thanks to several existing and new programs. These new homes not only present opportunities for homebuyers to strengthen local communities and bolster their redevelopment efforts, but also provide local employers with options to stabilize their workforce by offering employer-assisted housing (EAH) benefits that simultaneously support their workers’ homeownership goals. Through the Cook County Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP), 15 houses have been redeveloped in Chicago Heights and Richton Park and are available for purchase immediately. Additional homes will soon be…

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Mexico City offers preview of bus rapid transit and bike sharing for Chicago

Ryan Griffin-Stegink

EcoBici shared bikes are a popular way to get around in the central part of Mexico City.

Mexico City is staggeringly large: Its metropolitan area is the most populous in the western hemisphere and is home to over 21 million people. Moving this crowd of people around every day is no small task. Despite having an extensive and popular underground metro system (the second busiest on the continent, after New York City’s subway), crippling traffic congestion is an everyday fact of life for Mexiqueños. In its ongoing fight against traffic jams and air pollution, the city is not only expanding its rail system but also finding success with two alternative, cost-effective forms of transportation: bus rapid transit (BRT) and bike sharing, both of which are coming to Chicago soon. Thanks to ITDP and the Rockefeller Foundation, I had the opportunity to visit Mexico City and…

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Hyde Park residents drive new anchor development

MPC Research Assistant Wilmar Molina contributed to this post. Community vision driving development is the core principle behind the Metropolitan Planning Council’s (MPC) Corridor Development Initiative (CDI), and even in the midst of a recession, we are excited to point to the fruits of this process. Located in the heart of Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood at the northwest corner of 53rd Street and Lake Park Avenue, construction is now underway on the Harper Court redevelopment. One of the largest redevelopment efforts in Hyde Park in decades, this two-phase development will consist of up to 425 residential units, 150,000 square feet of office space, approximately 100,000 square feet of retail space, a 131-room Hyatt Place hotel and public spaces. At approximately $137…

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