April Media Tips - Metropolitan Planning Council

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April Media Tips

Ripped from the Headlines

A first for HUD and DOT: coordinating transportation, housing, and land use investments 
To encourage more sustainable communities nationwide, U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood and U. S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan recently announced a “high-level interagency task force” to better coordinate federal transportation, housing and land use investments. Through this partnership, HUD and DOT will make smarter use of taxpayer dollars and give people more transportation options, especially near jobs and homes; shorten commutes; lower transportation costs; and improve the environment.  MPC endorses the task force’s top goals, including the following: 

- The HUD-DOT task force will reshape the definition of “affordability,” which is used to qualify for multiple government grant programs, to reflect the interdependent household costs of housing and transportation.

- For the first time, HUD will coordinate its mandated five-year Consolidated Plans that estimate housing needs (prepared by cities and counties receiving Community Development Block Grants) with DOT’s required four-year Transportation Improvement Programs and longer-range state and regional transportation plans.

- Every major metropolitan area in the country will pursue integrated housing, transportation, and land use planning and investment over the next four years.  HUD and DOT, through HUD’s proposed Sustainable Communities Initiative, will offer planning grants to metropolitan areas and provide financial incentives to encourage municipalities to invest consistently with metropolitan growth priorities.

New research crunches numbers on communities most affected by Olympics bid
In coordination with the 2016 Fund for Chicago Communities, MPC has collected, analyzed and mapped current data for community areas that stand to be the most affected if Chicago wins its Olympics bid. Information for East Garfield Park, Englewood, Grand Boulevard, Kenwood, Little Village (South Lawndale), Near South Side, Near West Side, North Lawndale, Pilsen (Lower West Side), Washington Park, and Woodlawn is now available on MPC’s Web site; information for Douglas and Oakland will be available soon. For each community area, data is organized into the following categories: demographics, education, transit/accessibility, housing, building permits, economy, TIF and traffic, retail leakage, crime, parks, and land use. Check out our Web site for neighborhood-specific data sets. Questions? Contact MPC Associate Josh Ellis, 312-863-6045 or jellis@metroplanning.org

MPC’s 2009 Policy Agenda is online
MPC’s 2009 Policy Agenda: Planning for Prosperity, our response to pressing issues facing families, business and communities, is available on our Web site. The agenda outlines federal, state and regional policy recommendations that would make the most of limited financial resources. Contact MPC Assistant Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth for more information: 312-863-6018 or mburrell@metroplanning.org.   

Behind the Numbers

The Illinois General Assembly passed a “mini capital” program in March, which only accounts for a fraction of Gov. Pat Quinn’s $26 billion proposal, and did not include reforms for selecting transportation investments. MPC continues to push for a broader capital bill and much-needed project-selection reforms, embodied in HB 2359, sponsored by Rep. Kathy Ryg (D-Vernon Hills). Here’s why:

- Illinois does not have an objective process for selecting transportation projects, which will put us at a competitive disadvantage for federal funding. Congress has indicated that in the next round of federal surface transportation funding, due to be re-upped in 2009 or 2010, states with an objective prioritization process will be rewarded. Right now, 17 states have rating systems, many of them in the Midwest, including Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin. (See page three of linked PDF.)

- Congestion costs northeastern Illinois alone $7.3 billion a year, a hefty price tag that could be reduced by smarter transportation investments.

- The governor’s proposed capital plan contains no funding for high-speed rail, a top priority of the Obama administration. By comparison, Illinois FIRST(the last capital plan, approved in 1999 and expired in 2004) included $250 million for passenger rail improvements. For more information, contact the Midwest High Speed Rail Association.

Dates to Watch 

MPC has moved to 140 S. Dearborn St., Suite 1400, Chicago 60603. Please update your address book. Our phone numbers have not changed. 

16: House Regional Capital Hearing: Chicago-West
16: House Regional Capital Hearing: Chicago-North. MPC Vice President Peter Skosey will testify about the need for a new state capital plan and the Transportation Investment Accountability Act (HB 2359).
19: Liquid Assets: The Story of our Water Infrastructure, WTTW-Channel 11, 1 to 3 p.m.
24: Metra Board meeting
27: Fifth Annual Richard J. Daley Urban Forum: “Global Economic Recovery: Cities Lead the Way.” Vice President Joe Biden will keynote this event. Brookings Institution’s Bruce Katz and Kennedy School professor Ed Glaeser will speak.
30: Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board meeting 

13: Chicago Transit Authority Board meeting
15: Metra Board meeting
21: Regional Transportation Authority Board meeting
28: Illinois Toll Highway Authority Board meeting  

For complete information about these and other events, visit MPC’s Web Calendar. For more story ideas, and contact information for MPC experts, visit our Newsroom.

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