Posts about Ed Glaeser
Five unnamed but heroic Democratic Senators refused to support Boxer and Inhofe's amendment to add $50 billion in highway spending to the stimulus. According to Streetsblog, they insisted on these criteria:
Remember, Level of Service (LOS) is an outdated metric that assumes the only objective of roads is to move the maximum numbers of cars as fast as possible. When transportation departments focus on LOS, they end up with wider intersections and more lanes that reduce walkability and pedestrian safety and promote sprawl.
Allocating a minimum of 30 percent of the total to clean water and public transportation/passenger rail. Of the total funds allocated to highways and bridges, 10 percent would have to be set aside for Transportation Enhancements, i.e. bicycle and pedestrian improvements. Giving the Secretary of Transportation discretion to redirect funds from states that were not adhering to certain criteria to states that were adhering to them. The criteria Dems and enviros wanted to see, for example, would not have allowed states to receive funds by showing that a project improves vehicular Level of Service.
According to Streetsblog, the Boxer/Inhofe amendment is "nearly dead", though nothing is certain yet. Update: Infrastructurist reports that Inhofe hasn't given up. The Bond amendments to cut rail programs also appear to be going nowhere.
I'd love to know who these five unnamed Senators are so that we can thank them for their enlightened approach to transportation.
In other stimulus news, The New York Times this morning reports that Japan's stimulus in the 1990s failed to revive its economy. Economists both inside and outside Japan disagree on whether "didn't go far enough... [or] was a colossal waste." According to the article, they built "increasingly wasteful roads and bridges" instead social services. The article doesn't mention transit at all, whether in the wasteful or the more useful category. Tip: Greater Greater Dad.
In a Boston Globe op-ed, Ed Glaeser argues for a separate infrastructure bill to create the transportation network we need, and for limiting the stimulus to items like repairing decaying infrastructure that we can actually begin right away.
A Harvard economist, Edward Glaeser, got some press recently for a report he has written about the connection between land-use rules in Massachusetts towns and housing prices. It's really not much of a surprise that many towns, like Lincoln and Weston (among the richest towns in the Commonwealth) use land restrictions to keep their towns small and expensive.
But Glaeser's focus on what for Boston are somewhat distant suburbs seems odd. There's a housing crisis in Boston - why is the solution to build in Lincoln, which is not only somewhat distant but also has terrible highway access to Boston? The end of the article compares Glaeser's suggestions to a Massachusetts law, 40R, which gives incentives for communities to build housing around transit stops and on brownfields.
But Glaeser notes that no town has opted for 40R yet, though state officials say about a dozen are currently considering it. He says the state should be wary of building its housing strategy around the appeal of public transportation, and that it shouldn't ignore Americans' appetite for single-family houses and yards.Glaeser's response sounds a lot like he really would love Boston's western suburbs to look more like Nassau County, America's original sprawl. I can't figure out whether Glaeser is a total hack or just misguided. The Globe says his organization collaborated with a conservative think tank and was funded by home builders.
"It is foolish to overestimate the latent demand for public transportation. Americans are enormously fond of their cars, for good or ill," he said. "In terms of reducing housing prices, you have to think about car-based living. You just have to do it in an intelligent, livable way."
It's not clear what Glaeser really is proposing:
"I'm certainly not advocating the Houston solution -- I'm not advocating unfettered growth with no attention to the environment or to Boston's historic character," Glaeser said. But "we're hurting the region, we're hurting the country, by not letting the region develop to its economic potential." . . .Actually, it looks to me like the the region is doing just that, with a government agency for development that was created by a Republican governor but looks to be pretty darn supportive of smart growth, and operates under what looks to me like a surprisingly nice set of principles. Hey Bloomberg Administration, why can't you guys talk like this?
"The region needs to find out how it's going to accommodate new housing, and it also has to realize that citizens of Lincoln or Weston, or homeowners in any community, don't have an incentive to create affordable housing."
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