Monday, April 27, 2009

AMATS discusses Climate Change!

During the March 18 Policy Committee meeting the staff presented the public comments received during the February public meetings on Transportation Outlook, the draft Regional Transportation Plan. A major theme of those public comments was that the initial draft of Transportation Outlook did not include any discussion of climate change. The Policy Committee directed the staff to include a brief description of climate change in the Plan.

The following is the draft write up about climate change to be included in the Plan. It highlights the growing concern about climate change, as well as discussing how recommendations contained in the Plan help alleviate CO2 emissions. The write up will be included in the “Transportation Issues” section of the Plan that precedes the Plan’s recommendations.

Climate Change

AMATS recognizes the growing public concern regarding the issues of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) and climate change. Currently, AMATS is not required to model CO2 emissions from transportation sources, and no prevalent methodology exists for accurate modeling. Over the next several years it is likely that the federal government will enact stricter standards and regulations regarding CO2. AMATS is working closely with the Ohio Department of Transportation, Akron Regional Air Quality Management District (ARAQMD), the Ohio EPA and the USEPA to prepare for possible changes in air quality standards and their resulting impacts on the regional transportation planning process.

While Transportation Outlook does not directly quantify greenhouse gas emissions, many recommendations included in the Plan do help reduce CO2. Transit recommendations including better service, new cleaner buses, and park and ride lots will aid in reducing CO2 emissions. AMATS also continues to operate the OhioRideshare Program, which promotes carpooling to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

AMATS also supports smart growth management principles as an effective way of reducing carbon emissions. Land use planning for the last 60 years has focused on separating land uses and decreasing development densities. More recently on the national level, some focus has returned to developments which incorporate different land uses in the same vicinity. The advantage of this is that people are not required to use an automobile for every trip because the development’s layout encourages walking, biking and transit. Smart growth principles can reduce vehicle miles traveled, conserve energy and in turn reduce carbon emissions. AMATS supports local communities using smart growth management in future developments

The staff is requesting approval of the draft climate change text. This text will be included in the final version of Transportation Outlook.

Read the AMATS Packet documents here.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old news but even more relevant

Grant application a step toward possible commuter rail line
Brad Dicken | The Chronicle-Telegram

ELYRIA — Talks of commuter rail between Lorain and Cleveland are once again coming down the tracks.
And county officials are hoping an Ohio Department of Development grant will provide the steam to move it along.
The $80,000 grant — for which the commissioners approved filing an application on Thursday — would pay the county’s portion of a feasibility study to examine the need and cost of the project.
The Federal Transportation Administration would pay the remaining $343,000.
If deemed feasible, the county would then have to convince the federal government to shell out the money for train cars, staffing and to set up stations between Lorain and Cleveland.
Lorain County Commissioner Betty Blair, a longtime proponent of commuter rail, said she’s excited at the prospect of getting ir. And there’s support from the other communities along the path of the train, she said.
“There’s a lot of interest and a lot of buy-in,” she said.
The county should know whether it gets the grant by September, Assistant County Administrator Ron Twining said.
If not, Blair said the county could pay its share or ask the other communities that would use the line to help.
County Special Project Director Karen Davis said the concept of commuter rail has grown in popularity as gas prices have gone up.
If the feasibility study, which is updating a 2001 study on commuter rail completed by the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, suggests commuter rail is a good idea for the area, the county would then push for the trains to come.
But even that, Twining said, would likely be a two-year study itself to see if the concept will work in the area.

Swiss countryside succumbs to urban sprawl


Swiss countryside succumbs to urban sprawl

Switzerland has gone from a largely rural country to an urban one in just 70 years with developmental sprawl taking over pristine alpine regions, a study has found.
The Swiss National Science Foundation study released on Wednesday revealed that since 1935 urban development has claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the previous 2,000 years.

Livable Streets Education

Livable Streets Education is working closely with classroom teachers and field experts to craft units for schools to use. We will publish some of our Elementary School units for use in the classroom soon.

The Streets Around Us (Kindergarten Community Study)
Use your Street Smarts (First Grade Community Study)
Getting Around (Second Grade Transit Unit)
Bridges and Tunnels (Second Grade City Study)
A Teacher’s Guide
A Workbook for Students
Lesson Plans

Livable Streets Education
349 West 12th Street, #3
New York, NY 10014
phone: 212-796-4211

Seattle's commitment to new transit and light rail

We need mobility options, not more cars.