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Yes, there is an upside to tolling our highways

Flickr user vcu cns (CC)

Congestion causes stress and costs time and money. Tolling is one way to lessen those negative impacts.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, the first toll road was born around 1792 and became known as the Philadelphia Turnpike. Back then, it cost around $12,500 per mile to construct crushed stone surfaces traversed by horse and buggy. It wasn’t until 1880, with the proliferation of bicycles, that a “smooth road” movement was born. Construction cost per mile is now closer to $1.4 million. In 2011, the Illinois Tollway did something it hadn’t done in nearly 30 years: It raised tolls by 35 cents per mile to finance its $12 billion capital plan, Move Illinois. Today, because of that plan, the Illinois Tollway is the “major player in the region” when it comes to road construction and smooth roads. Meanwhile, revenues for traditional state and…

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Americans live farther away from their jobs, burdening lower-income workers

When jobs locate near where people live we spend less time and money commuting.

New analysis from Elizabeth Kneebone and Natalie Holmes of Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program finds that between 2000 and 2012, in the nation’s most populous metros, private sector jobs moved farther away from where people live, especially in the suburbs and in low-income communities. Using a typical commute distance factor, overall, between 2000 and 2012, in the 96 major metro areas in the U.S. the number of jobs where people live fell by 7 percent. Overall trends Of the 96 metros studied, only 29 increased the number of jobs close to a typical resident. In 37 metros, overall employment increased but the number of jobs close to where people live declined, suggesting that employment location decisions did not take into account where people actually reside. Most types of jobs…

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Forty times around the world in 1 million miles of pipe

Putting a human experience to water infrastructure makes it real.

Our nation’s infrastructure is crumbling and in need of reinvestment—this is the general message I hear over and over these days. Yet figures such as $1 trillion to repair and upgrade our nation’s drinking water infrastructure are difficult to conceptualize—let alone fathom where the money will come from. In fact my eyes just glazed over. When I hear the word "infrastructure" today, the conversation is usually centered on either the need for funding its repair and replacement, or improving policies for regulating it. The tangible, human relationship to what ‘it’ is can often seem vague, removed from everyday life. Particularly in the world of water delivery, the fact that in North America we have more than 1 million miles of pipes beneath our streets…

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These teens are planning the future of their neighborhoods

Photo: Helen Slade,

Territory participants set up shop on Argyle Street in Uptown.

There’s been an uptick in interest in teaching students how to proactively engage with their own neighborhoods and develop strategies to improve them. As a parent, urban planner and former teacher, I’ve often wondered how today’s students will plan for their neighborhoods and communities 10 years from now. Programs like Regenerate Chicago’s Neighborhoods and Territory are working to answer that question and help students address the issue of “Why should I get involved when no one will take me seriously?” These groups are equipping students with the tools to make their voices heard by promoting ideas that lead to healthier, safer and stronger communities. Through our work on Placemaking, Corridor Development Initiative and Great Rivers Chicago, staff at…

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Ready, set, rain! How one community is managing stormwater

Kelsey Pudlock

Community residents discuss where stormwater creates issues when it rains.

With spring around the corner, the Village of Midlothian is getting ready…RainReadySM! RainReady is an initiative started by the nonprofit Center for Neighborhood Technology to help residents and communities work together to plan, coordinate and find solutions to water-related problems that are influenced by climate change. Residents—including members of Midlothian’s well-known advocacy group, Floodlothian Midlothian—packed into the Village Hall on Thursday evening, March 11, 2015, to kick off the start of Midlothian’s transformation into a RainReady community. As dedicated members of the Calumet Stormwater Collaborative, Center for Neighborhood Technology seeks to bring the RainReady initiative into communities in the Calumet region that could benefit from…

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Metropolitan Planning Council 140 S. Dearborn St.
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Helping create competitive, equitable, and sustainable communities

For more than 80 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has made the Chicago region a better place to live and work by partnering with businesses, communities and governments to address the area's toughest planning and development challenges. MPC works to solve today's urgent problems while consistently thinking ahead to prepare the region for the needs of tomorrow. Read more about our work »

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