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In the Loop: July 2, 2015

Sound Transit on Flickr (cc)

Seattle's light rail system, which opened in 2009, could be up for a major expansion if voters approve a funding referendum.

In the Loop is your round-up of what’s going on in the transportation world, posted in conjunction with Talking Transit. @metroplanners news Numerous studies have demonstrated that the easy availability of free parking reduces transit use and increases the use of single-passenger automobiles. Free parking also increases neighborhood congestion, pollution and can actually reduce local business sales. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been working to address this issue on multiple fronts. Recommendations from our study with the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning on parking in the Wicker Park-Bucktown neighborhood are now being put into place by a local alderman, who is allowing additional parking meters on a busy commercial street. We’re also working with the…

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A new "rusty" perspective from author Jonathan Waldman at MPC Think & Drink

Watching the paint dry. Watching the grass grow. Watching rust form. Until I heard Jonathan Waldman speak, I would have lumped these three idioms together. On Tuesday, June 23, a packed MPC conference center listened to stories from Rust: The Longest War. Author Jonathan Waldman enumerated various battles on corrosion in the public and private sectors that amount to one of America’s costliest ongoing wars. Rust costs America $400 billion per year—more than all other natural disasters combined. And we are losing the fight against it. At MPC we focus a lot on the effects of rust and corrosion on our region’s infrastructure. Through our Accelerate Illinois initiative, we highlight the need to maintain our current infrastructure assets—and that requires cold hard…

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Illinois at a standstill while other states move on more transportation funding

Today, legislation in six states to raise the motor fuel tax will take effect. Legislators in these states voted to raise the gas tax because they know paying a little extra at the pump will make their constituents’ lives easier—with better roads that will improve traffic congestion, safer bridges and more reliable transit—and make their states more attractive to business. States where gas taxes will increase on July 1, 2015 State Cent per gallon increase on July 1, 2015 Idaho 7 Passed in 2015 Georgia 6.7 Passed in 2015 Maryland 1.8 Inflationary increase based on legislation passed in 2013 Rhode Island 1 Inflationary increase based on legislation passed in…

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What does the proposed Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule mean for Chicago?

Last year we noted the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty and an era that ushered in important civil rights legislation, including the Fair Housing Act in 1968. In an exciting development on June 25, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Fair Housing Act does not just apply to overt housing discrimination but also includes implicit discrimination under the law. Now what? The pursuit of ending poverty and racial segregation is far from realized in 2015 despite the obligation of local, regional, state and federal programs and governments to create integrated communities. According to a study by Kendra Bischoff and Sean Reardon of Cornell University, the number of Americans living in middle-income neighborhoods has fallen from 65 percent in 1970 to 42 percent today. The impacts of…

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Minneapolis strikes again: How Chicago could revamp its parking requirements

Flickr user Ken Douglas (cc)

How much parking do we really need for new residential development?

Like those of many cities, Chicago’s zoning ordinance requires off-street parking for most new development projects. These parking requirements were created decades ago with the goal of ensuring that peoples’ automobiles do not crowd the street. Development on more than 98 percent of Chicago land where housing is allowed must include at least one parking space per unit, and about two-thirds of that land requires at least 1.5 spaces per unit. We’ve learned, however, that these requirements have some negative effects. Parking that is provided for free at offices increases the number of people choosing to drive to work, reducing the use of the transit system and exacerbating pollution and congestion. Parking that residential developers are required to provide with new…

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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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