Monthly Archives: June 2009

Transportation, Land Use, and the Climate Connection

Emissions

In one of their latest action pieces, Transportation 4 America has posted a particularly insightful and well-researched policy brief examining the link between transportation and greenhouse gas emissions. The brief focuses on an important, yet often overlooked, piece of the overall solution to reduce carbon dioxide emissions: policies that provide transit options. Since the population is projected to keep growing, vehicle ownership is likewise expected to grow. Useful policies that promote smarter transportation choices will help curb the amount of vehicles on the already-congested roadways. Check out the policy brief here, and feel free to post your reactions to the findings and recommendations below.

Coalition-building Theme at New Jersey Rail Meeting

At the latest meeting of the Raritan Valley Rail Coalition (RVRC) held in Somerville, NJ, the message was loud and clear: more than ever, now is the time to build partnerships and gain allies in advocating for better transportation services and more sustainable transit options.

The nonpartisan, nonprofit coalition – dedicated to facilitating improvements for New Jersey Transit’s Raritan Valley rail line – has been holding regular meetings over the past six months as a means of reporting the findings from the I-78 Corridor Transit Study. Thus far, the study has focused on possible transportation alternatives for the busy I-78 corridor, but not much has been reported in terms of rail expansion options. Nonetheless, support was strong for coalition-building around the rail initiative.

As many of you already know, RenewLV supports the study of regional rail for the Lehigh Valley, particularly focusing on the possible extension of the Raritan Valley line from High Bridge to Phillipsburg, N.J., and the impact of such a project for this region. Since a regional rail service in the Valley will presumably involve partnerships with adjacent states – namely, New Jersey, and even New York – identifying allies across state boundaries is incredibly important for the regional rail effort.

Today’s meeting was proof of a thriving sentiment for multi-organizational, multi-state collaboration. HART Commuter Information Services, a transportation management association that promotes ridesharing, and the Institute for Rational Urban Mobility were just some of the organizations that called for a need to work together on determining better transportation solutions for the NY-NJ-PA region. Moreover, representatives from Somerset and Hunterdon Counties within New Jersey specifically mentioned the Lehigh Valley as a region that must be included in the discussions for rail expansion. Reaching out to such allies will be an important step in advancing a coordinated rail plan in the Valley.

Visit our “Join Us” page and provide your name and e-mail, along with clicking the box next to “Transportation,” in order to stay informed and updated on any new developments related to the Lehigh Valley regional rail initiative. Additionally, I encourage you to e-mail us your thoughts and ideas related to smart growth and regional collaboration at smartgrowth@renewlv.org. Your input helps ensure a thriving Valley.

CACLV Community Forum on Budget Crisis today

For all of you who know about this event, consider this post a reminder to come. For all of you who do not know yet, I urge you to attend and show your support, despite the late notice.

Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley (CACLV) is convening a community forum to discuss the state budget crisis and severe cuts that have been proposed for vital programs in such areas as community and economic development, social services, health care, education and the arts. These cuts will cause irreperable damage to the communities in the Lehigh Valley, and, as CACLV’s Executive Director Alan Jennings insightfully puts it, “It is hard to imagine how we maintain anything resembling a quality of life if the Pennsylvania Senate’s budget proposal prevails.”

It is urgent that as many supporters as possible come out to this community forum.

The event is TODAY, Friday, June 26, at 2:00 pm at the Forte Building (1337 E. Fifth Street, Bethlehem).

CACLV has some great speakers lined up for the event, including:

  • James Geiger, Senior Vice President, Operations, Lehigh Valley Hospital and Health Network
  • Roberta Marcus, Parkland School Board Member and President-Elect, Pennsylvania School Board Association
  • Carol Obando-Derstine, Executive Director, Children’s Coalition of the Lehigh Valley
  • Mayor Sal Panto, City of Easton
  • John Stoffa, Northampton County Executive

For questions or comments abotu the event, contact Elisa Zaehringer, CACLV, at 610-434-0875 or ezaehringer@caclv.org.

Progress on Allentown trail project

Allentown’s year-long comprehensive trail network study has seen remarkable progress. Representatives from Greenways, the consultant hired by the city, presented a draft plan at a public meeting at the Allentown Library Wednesday, June 24. The draft plan identified preliminary recommendations for key intersections, shared lane markings and interconnections with other trails. You can learn more by downloading the latest project newsletter.

The project has the potential to be truly transformational for Allentown by providing much needed alternative transporation options, improved access to city assets and neighborhoods, and expanding recreational options for residents and guests.

News story from WFMZ-TV

Impressions from LANTA meeting

After attending last night’s “Moving LANTA Forward” meeting at the Bethlehem Town Rotunda, I came away with a better understanding of the upcoming plans for the planned expansion of the current transportation system in the Lehigh Valley. As mentioned in previous post advertising the meetings, LANTA initated a system-wide analysis as a means of assessing the transportation needs of the Valley. The results of this analysis have now been made public and presented at daily meetings during this week.

The LANTA plan calls for a twelve-year, four-phase expansion of the current system. The first two phases focus on expansion of service in the core urban areas, including late-night and weekend service in the busy trunk corridors of the cities, as well as increased services into the outer suburban ring. The final phases call for an implementation of Bus Rapid Transit and the option of examining rail service potentials.

One salient feature of the presentation was the focus on the intricate connection between transportation planning and land use ordinances. Growth and development in the Lehigh Valley will continue to influence municipal decisions, and it will be important for municipalities to examine aspects of land use as a means of facilitating transit expansion. On the “Moving LANTA Forward” blog, a useful Land Use Design Toolkit, along with the consultants’ presentation, is posted. At a base level, LANTA hopes to reach cooperation with local communities in order to increase transit services and improve the current system.

Finally, kudos to all of you who came out to one of the meetings. The public input during the Q&A sessions will help LANTA in the expansion and will help them better asses the transportation needs of the Lehigh Valley.

To keep up on all the latest details about LANTA, make sure to continue checking their blog, the LANTA website, and, as always, this blog.

Watch it here: Steven Bliss on Tempo PublicSquare

If you missed the Regional Rail episode of Tempo PublicSquare this past weekend, don’t fret. Watch it here, or go visit Tempo Signature Series and click on Train Service in the Lehigh Valley.

The Crumbling of America: a History Channel special

The History Channel will be showing The Crumbling of America, a program that closely examines America’s outdated and collapsing infrastructure, and the damaging effects of continual negligence to the country’s basics. Expert interviews and animated simulations of infrastructure disasters are just some of the program highlights. For all you night owls, The Crumbling of America will be showing Tuesday morning, June 23rd, at 1:00AM and again repeating during a daytime hour on Sunday, June 28th, at 5:00PM. Tune in and learn.

The Future of the LANTA Transportation System

The Lehigh And Northampton County Transportation Authority, LANTA, will hold six meetings in the region over the next three days where they hope to have the residents of the Lehigh Valley come hear a review of the transportation development plan and provide input for the future of the Valley’s transportation system. The development plan, along with the Land Use Planning Tool element, will be the center of the discussion. Each day, a meeting will be held at 3:00PM and 7:00PM at the day’s assigned location:

• Monday, June 22, Lehigh County Government Center, 7th Street, Allentown

• Tuesday, June 23, Bethlehem City Hall Rotunda

• Wednesday, June 24, United Church of Christ, 27 N. 3rd St., Easton

Over the past year, LANTA has launched a campaign entitled “Move LANTA forward.” The campaign’s blog chronicles and describes some of the recent actions undertaken by LANTA, as part of the effort to assess the transportation needs of the Lehigh Valley and, additionally, to put forward major recommendations for restructuring and improving the current system.

In a January Crossroads post, the four phase plan of LANTA was briefly described. This week’s meetings will provide an update of that plan and a chance for the public to ask follow-up questions.

Please attend one of the six meetings of the next three days to learn more about the LANTA plans for transportation improvements in the Lehigh Valley.

Rail Service: The Lehigh Valley and beyond

The Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure released The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 at a press conference on Thursday, June 18th, 2009. Presented by Chairman Oberstar, along with fellow Committee members, the proposal outlines some key infrastructure initiatives. Notable among the Act’s recommendations: focus on rail service. The Act will aim to  “provide specific funding to restore rail transit systems,” and, moreover, “establishes a new program to finance planning, design, and construction of high-speed rail.”

Given this release, discussion about the feasibility of rail service in the Lehigh Valley region is especially pertinent. Tune in to Tempo PublicSquare tonight on Channel 39 to see RenewLV’s Steven Bliss talk about what it will take to bring Regional Rail service into the Valley.

Tempo PublicSquare airs tonight, Friday, June 19th, at 7:30PM and 11PM, with a repeat showing on Sunday, June 21st at 11:30 AM, on PBS39, Channel 39, in the Lehigh Valley region. Tune in to hear the regional side of this story.

RenewLV’s Steven Bliss discussing Rail Service in the Lehigh Valley

tempoPS250

Tune in to PBS Channel 39 this weekend to see Steven Bliss, Executive Director of RenewLV, featured on Tempo Public Square, discussing what is needed to establish a running regional rail service in the Lehigh Valley area. Some of the various issues examined during the program will include the estimated project costs, ridership projections, and benefits of rail service, as well as a discussion of implementation challenges.

With a growing population in the Lehigh Valley, the area is ripe for a regional rail network. Currently, RenewLV supports the study of rail service in the Lehigh Valley, examining the expansion of NJ Transit through to the Northampton and Lehigh Counties. This study serves as an important step towards creating rail service in the Lehigh Valley, which will provide travel options and increased economic opportunities.

Tempo PublicSquare: Regional Rail airs this Friday, June 19th, at 7:30 PM and 11PM, with a repeat showing on Sunday, June 21st, at 11:30AM, on PBS39, Channel 39.

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