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October Media Tips

 

Regional Groups Building Consensus for Pro-Metro U.S. Policies

As the nation prepares for an historic presidential election, a broad range of Chicago-area civic groups is coming together to develop recommendations for reforming federal policies to support metropolitan regions. Over the next few months, this effort – convened by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning – will develop a series of pragmatic, cost-effective, unified proposals that will be presented to the new president’s transition team. The intent is to revamp federal policies on transportation, housing, economic development, and environment, to strengthen Chicagoland and other urban areas, and in turn, the nation.

“The health of our metropolitan regions is not only important to four out of five Americans living in or near cities, but also critical to keeping the U.S. a global powerhouse,” said MPC President MarySue Barrett. “If our next president supports proven approaches to unleash the potential of metros, the economy will start humming again.”

Transportation networks, water systems, green spaces, media coverage, and yes, even sports teams, unite metropolitan regions. However, federal policy rarely recognizes those connections and often inhibits decision making and investment on a regional scale. For more information about this effort, please contact MPC President MarySue Barrett, 312-863-6001 or msbarrett@metroplanning.org.

Transit Fare Hikes Pale in Comparison with Cost of Area Traffic Congestion

It may cost Chicagoans 25 to 50 cents more to ride the L or bus next year, according to the Chicago Transit Authority’s proposed 2009 budget. Still, at $2 or $2.25 per ride, the cost beats what Chicagoland drivers pay every year due to traffic jams: MPC’s recent Moving at the Speed of Congestion report shows excess traffic on our roads costs the average rush-hour driver $1,579 a year – or a mind-boggling $7.3 billion annually for the region.

The figure is nearly double the largest previous estimate from the 2007 Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) Urban Mobility report. That’s because MPC’s report examines gridlock over longer periods of the day and across a larger portion of the region’s road network. Also, Moving at the Speed of Congestion drew from detailed local data provided by the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, while TTI’s study (which is updated annually, with 2008 figures expected this fall) relies upon Federal Highway Administration data.

“Our region has a serious traffic problem that is costing people and businesses billions of dollars a year,” said Peter Skosey , MPC vice president of external relations. “As a region, we must start to identify and invest in smart solutions – including expanded public transportation, an increasingly attractive choice for commuters weary of high gas prices.”

For more information about Moving at the Speed of Congestion, contact Skosey at 312-863-6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org ; or visit MPC’s Web site.

How to Bring a Neighborhood to Life? Ask the People Who Live There

Parks, plazas, fountains – pretty places alone don’t make a neighborhood. When a great place attracts people, that’s when a community comes to life. In partnership with New York City-based Project for Public Spaces , MPC is releasing a new guidebook and training community development and public sector leaders to put the emphasis on the people first when planning or revitalizing public spaces across the metropolitan region.

The concept of designing places around the way people will use them is known as “Placemaking.” Since 1975, Project for Public Spaces has spread the gospel of Placemaking in more than 2,000 communities in 26 countries around the world, helping people turn their public spaces into vital community places. In October, MPC and PPS are jointly releasing “A Guide to Neighborhood Placemaking in Chicago,” filled with local case studies and step-by-step advice for creating and sustaining vibrant public places in Chicagoland neighborhoods. The two groups also will co-host workshops on Oct. 23 and 24, to help community groups and public agencies get familiar with Placemaking concepts and practices, so they can apply those ideas to projects that will bring new life to communities across the region.

To learn more about Placemaking, contact Peter Skosey, MPC vice president of external relations, 312-863-6004 or pskosey@metroplanning.org. In coming weeks, look for the new Web site, www.placemakingchicago.com .

Great Lakes Infrastructure Conference to Shape Agenda for Next President

Crumbling bridges, insufficient mass transit, brownouts, soaring energy costs, freight gridlock, flooding, and polluted waters – all have made headlines in recent years, and all stem from poor planning and the continued strain on our nation's infrastructure. Meanwhile, the need for economic stimulus is greater than ever. To build consensus for a new infrastructure agenda for the Great Lakes megaregion, the Metropolitan Planning Council and Regional Plan Association of New York will co-host “Rebuilding and Renewing America: Infrastructure Choices in the Great Lakes Megaregion,” an America 2050 forum, on Monday, Nov. 17, 2008 , from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Hyatt Regency Chicago, 151 E. Wacker Dr., Chicago.

Invited speakers include Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Leaders from the Great Lakes business, civic, government, and academic communities are being invited to help identify and prioritize strategic investments in transportation, water, and energy to be included in a national infrastructure plan, authorization of a new surface transportation bill, pending climate change legislation, and implementation of the Great Lakes Compact. This forum is part of America 2050, a national initiative to develop an infrastructure strategy for America 's future growth, competitiveness and sustainability. The conference is invitation-only. Members of the media who would like to attend should contact MPC Asst. Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth, at 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org .

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