Upgrading Rail Infrastructure as an Economic Development Tool

Author: Roger Bardsley, AICP I very recently returned from a trip to Germany where I attended the wedding of one of my exchange students from 2007-08.  The wedding took place in a 200-year-old Schloss, which is a fancy name for what we would call a plantation house.  It sits in the middle of what was a very large farm in the north German plain. But, I digress.  Imagine that you lived in country that was taken over by an evil dictator who led everyone into a disastrous war that left the country devastated.  Imagine further that the first evil dictator was replaced by another evil dictator who ruled through fear and intimidation and who did very little to modernize the country or rebuild infrastructure. That country was East Germany, or the Deutche Democratic Republic (DDR) as it was known when it was reunified with West Germany in October, 1990.  What to do?  There were so many issues, both economic and social, involved in bringing the two countries together.  Berlin was in relatively good shape because much of the city had been part of West Germany.  In the north German plain, however, the farms and farm villages had seen no investment in decades.  This is a large, sparsely-populated area that stretches to the Baltic Sea and relies on farm and forest products for much of its economy. Fortunately, the area had railroad lines that dated to the 19th Century.  They pass through small towns and villages that were the market centers for their respective agricultural areas.  Each had a station that, at one time, was the heart of the community, handling...

Seeking Volunteers for APA-NC Resiliency Committee

Author: Tim Jones, AICP, Planner II, Town of Waxhaw Resiliency is a component of APA-NC’s Strategic Plan 2018-2022 Priorities.  The chapter is in the process of forming the Resiliency Committee and looking for interested volunteers.  The committee is to become a conduit of information in the state for resiliency related issues of interest to our communities.   Tim Jones has volunteered to establish and lead this committee. Interested parties should contact Tim at tjones@waxhaw.com for further information on the committee’s scope, timeline, and roles. Resilience is the capacity of individuals, communities, institutions, businesses, and systems in a community to prepare, survive, adapt, recover, and grow no matter what kinds of stresses and shocks they experience.  The stresses and shocks to a community may involve disease outbreaks, earthquakes, flooding, high unemployment, and terrorist attacks, and water...

Leaping the Digital Divide: Encouraging Policies and Partnerships to Improve Broadband Access Across North Carolina

Authors: Erin Wynia, NCLM Legislative Counsel and Joanne Hovis, President of CTC Technology & Energy The article that follows is pulled from excerpts of a policy paper initiated, published and co-authored by the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM) as part of an effort to encourage statewide policy that better enables public-private partnerships for broadband access. NCLM views this effort as crucial to ensuring that all North Carolinians have the 21st century infrastructure they need to thrive economically and to make their communities attractive places to live and work. You can find the full report, with a range of pullout information and a foreword from Brookings Institution Fellow Blair Levin, at www.nclm.org/broadband.   The Case for Government Involvement in Broadband One of the primary functions of government is to build the infrastructure networks people need to sustain their lives and livelihoods. Today, high-speed broadband joins transportation, electric, water, and natural gas networks as a component of basic infrastructure services that Americans expect to be provided. High-speed internet service is the number-one amenity sought by multi-family residents, and the number-two amenity for single-family residents, according to a recent study. Local governments, in particular, can and should play a role in creating the infrastructure networks to provide this service, which are often too costly for private sector entities to build solely on their own. Traditionally, when considering infrastructure networks that widely benefit the public, governments step up to build assets with a long lifespan. Whether it’s a street network, electric grid, natural gas system, or drinking water treatment, all of these long-term investments are made with a goal of giving communities an edge:...

Legislative Committee Seeking Intern – Stipend Available

Author: Chad Meadows, Chair, APA-NC Legislative Committee The NC-APA Legislative Committee is looking for an intern or chapter member with some time to assist in the preparation of a white paper on legislative committee best practices. The work includes interviews of past NC-APA Legislative Committee Chairs about their experiences and perspectives on the Committee’s past efforts as well as participation in telephone interviews with Legislative Chairs from other APA chapters across the country (approximately 10). Results of these interviews will be summarized in a white paper (to be prepared by the intern with oversight from the Legislative Committee) that will be provided to APA National and used to help guide the NC-APA Legislative Committee in its preparation of a new strategic plan over the coming months. The work includes a stipend of up to $1,000 and is expected to require around 50 hours to complete. It is an excellent opportunity for a planning student or young professional considering a career in planning policy or legislation. The work has a short deadline, with the completion of the white paper by the end of November 2018. Interested persons should send a resume and cover letter to Chad Meadows, Legislative Chair, at chad@codewright.info. Candidate selection will take place the last week in August. Candidates should be a member of...

Portland Transit

Author: Roger Bardsley Last year I reported on the Denver Metro Area and its more or less successful completion of a light rail system that provides mobility throughout the region. I also mentioned that Denver and its environs are held together politically by a single council of governments (DRCOG) and a single Regional Transportation District (RTD). DRCOG also functions as the MPO for the area. The results have been impressive. This year I journeyed to the Portland, OR metro area to see how things were working there. For planners, of course, Oregon is famous for urban growth boundaries and a bike-friendly culture. I found that the Portland metro area is well-served by TriMet, a transit district similar to RTD. They operate an extensive light rail system, a single commuter rail line, and a bus system. Of course, I was excited about light rail and decided to find out how and why Portland has pretty much blown away the competition. It started back in the early 1970s when highway officials proposed several new freeways that would have damaged Portland and taken out thousands of homes. There was a citizen revolt and most of the projects got cancelled. Portland does have urban freeways but they are not as intrusive as in some other metro areas. Cancellation of, in particular, the Mount Hood freeway, provided funding for the light rail planning. Fast forward to 1986 when the first line opened, and then to today when TriMet has completed the following major projects: MAX (Metropolitan Area Express) Blue Line – 33 miles from Hillsborough west of Portland, to Beaverton, to city center, and...
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