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National links: There are downsides to letting the Rust Belt shrink

An economist puts forward a strong argument on why it doesn't make sense to say that we should just let middle-of-the-country places that are struggling economically die off, Donald Trump has named a Secretary of Transportation, and Volvo just finished building the world's longest bus. Read about this, and more, from world of transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by Bob Jagendorf on Flickr.

Leaving places behind doesn't pay: When it comes to places that are struggling economically, like Rust Belt cities, most economists would tell you that the solution is to let them shrink and for the people there to go somewhere else where they're more likely to thrive. Some would argue, however, that this is problematic both because it ignores the people who stay in struggling places and because there are wide-ranging benefits of keeping these places alive. (Vox)

The DOT goes back to the future: Donald Trump will nominate Elaine Chao to be the next Secretary of Transportation. She was the DOT's deputy secretary in 1990, and while working in the George W. Bush administration (as the Secretary of Labor), she praised public transit and said we don't necessarily need more highways, though she also fought raising the transit subsidy for Labor Department employees. There's reason to think she'll be pro-ridesharing services (for better or for worse) and pro-coal. (Slate, GovEx, Americans for Tax Reform, Lexington Herald Leader)

A really, really big bus: Volvo has built the world's largest bus. According to the company, the bi-articulated vehicle can carry 300 people and has a length of 98 feet. It was built in Brazil for bus rapid transit projects in the country. (Economic Times Auto)

Amazon is the new Walmart: One of every two dollars spent online goes through, meaning the company has an even bigger effect on the economy than we might have thought. At the local level, Amazon's expansion has meant the extraction of $613 million in subsidies for building new facilities around the country, but those haven't exactly added up to jobs for local economies, as 149,000 retail jobs have been lost in the last 11 years. (Institute for Local Self Reliance)

"Mega regions" in the US: Using data about how we commute, researchers have created new maps of US "mega regions." Mega regions have become a major topic of discussion as separate cities in close proximity to each other become more economically and physically connected. With census tracks and commute data, an algorithm was created to show how the United States has 50 of these regions. (National Geographic)

Quote of the Week

"Here's the hard message for Portland and Seattle and every other city growing like this. If the next 200,000 people come here, and we're planning for us to be a city of 850,000 people ... they're not going to be able to bring their cars and live like we did 20 years ago. In fact, most of us are going to have to drive a lot less. The streets aren't going to get any bigger. They are going to be walking, they are going to be riding their bikes, they are going to be riding the transit system."

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on the need to put together a new zoning code that allows more people to live in the city. (My Northwest)


Breakfast links: Metro is repeating itself

Photo by Elvert Barnes on Flickr.
Copy, fail, copy again: The investigation of July's derailment outside of East Falls Church has revealed that Metro workers reused information from old inspection reports, misreported track status, and skipped inspections. Workers say they were under pressure to bury bad news. (WTOP)

Bus route blues: WMATA Board members are looking for alternatives to proposed cuts to bus service, such as offsetting costs by reducing midday service on other routes, and raising the fare on airport routes rather than cutting them altogether. (WTOP)

Contract pressure?: A former employee of DC's Department of General Services says he was fired for refusing to award development contracts to one of Mayor Bowser's biggest donors, Fort Myer, a street paving company. (WAMU)

Station designs move forward: The fate of the Purple Line is in still limbo, but work goes on. Here are new design renderings for 10 of the light rail line's stations. (Bethesda Magazine)

Empty homes create trouble: Dupont Circle residents say a row of vacant homes is attracting squatters who leave empty liquor bottles and other trash. A developer plans to turn the houses into a condo, but the ANC rejected their initial five-story proposal as too tall. (City Paper)

Ban the box: A DC bill that would keep DC landlords from asking about criminal records as a condition for housing is one step closer to becoming a law. DC could join San Francisco and other cities that have already "banned the box" for housing. (DCist)

Have you seen this slick?: There's a $1,000 reward for anyone with information about a strange oily sheen that appeared on the Potomac on Sunday. Water authorities say it should not affect the city water quality. (DCist)

What's in a (street) name?: Alexandria has initiated steps to change the name of Jefferson Davis Highway and will solicit residents' input on the road's new name as part of a compromise that keeps a Confederate statue in its current location. (WTOP)

Walk down to Electric Avenue: The next time you're in Dupont Circle, step onto kinetic tiles that use pressure to generate electricity and power benches in a nearby park. DC expects 10,000 people per day to step on the tiles. (Post)

And...: People who move away from the DC region are most likely to head to Baltimore. (WBJ) ... Prince George's Council member Mel Franklin was charged with a DUI after crashing a county vehicle. (Post) ... Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park is getting bike repair stations. (SNPT, Kate Schwarz)

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Breakfast links: Decision day for late-night service

Photo by m01229 on Flickr.
The fate of late night: The WMATA Board is voting today on the schedule and duration of late-night service cuts. Board chairman Jack Evans wants late-night service to be restored in one year. (WTOP)

Political theater and the WMATA Board: Virginia Governor McAuliffe called out the WMATA Board for wasting time on political theater after Board member Corbett Price suggested that Metro should halt Silver Line construction. (Post)

Crowdsourcing accessibility: A new app, Project Sidewalk, uses crowdsourcing to map the accessibility of DC's streets. Users have mapped about 40 percent of the District so far. (Technical.lyDC)

A breath of fresh air: Smoking will be prohibited in public housing nationwide. The new federal rule goes into effect next year. (NYTimes, Corbin S.)

Westbard power struggle: The latest renderings of the Westbard redevelopment plan revealed that it will have above-ground utility lines. Only Montgomery's central business districts require underground utility lines, and the planning department says they "heard loud and clear" that residents consider the area suburban. (Bethesda Beat)

Phone theft is up: While the overall number of crimes reported on Metrorail and bus is down, pickpocketing (mostly of cellphones) increased 33%, and crimes in parking garages jumped up 47%. (WTOP)

From Fannie Mae to condos: Fannie Mae's 60-year-old building on Wisconsin Ave NW will be restored and transformed into a shopping center and luxury condos. The company is moving to new headquarters in downtown DC. (UrbanTurf)

Mass transit on mass media: Entertainment's depiction of mass transit in the past has been less than flattering, but new TV shows are making it a part of characters' lives. Could this help transit systems get the attention of policy makers? (NPR)

Fossil fuel failings: Pipelines are the supposed to be the safest method of transporting fossil fuels across the US, but there have been over 9,000 serious incidents in 30 years, with 548 deaths and 2,576 injuries. Is this really the best we can do? (CityLab)

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Breakfast links: Should DC block the Silver Line?

Photo by Ryan Stavely on Flickr.
No money, no Silver Line?: Corbett Price, a DC member of the WMATA Board, suggested DC block the Silver Line's Phase 2 unless Virginia agrees to dedicated Metro funding. ... There are four main plans to save Metro, including dedicated funding, reforming the board, and more, but will any of them gain consensus? (Post)

Trim late night just temporarily?: The WMATA Board is ready to strike a deal on the unpopular plans for late-night service cuts. Board Chair Jack Evans says he could accept shorter hours as a one year plan instead of a permanent one. (DCist)

Metro needs billions: Metro estimates that it will need $25 billion over ten years for power and lighting fixes and replacing old equipment. This is all on top of the current year's (already difficult) budget. (WTOP)

Shelter limits: Mayor Bowser has proposed a bill to restrict the city's homeless services to District residents and to stop offering emergency shelter space to those with other housing available, citing the huge cost to the city. (WAMU)

Fight for 15: Workers at National Airport held a rally and authorized a strike vote in support of raising the minimum wage. This comes on the same day as a planned strike by Uber drivers in other cities. (DCist, Post)

New transportation top brass: Donald Trump named Elaine Chao, former Secretary of Labor, as his administration's Secretary of Transportation. We previously considered what the Trump presidency might look like for transportation. (Post, GGWash)

Final ruling delayed for United: DC's Zoning Commission will hold off on a decision on the new DC United stadium until December after hearing residents' health concerns and worries about a lack of parking and transit options. (NBC4, UrbanTurf)

Dupont building rejected: Plans for a Dupont Circle apartment building are on hold after the DC Historic Preservation Review Board said the building would leave a one-story landmark gas station in the shadows. (WCP)

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Breakfast links: Paid leave cometh

Photo by Photographer on Flickr.
DC paid leave details: The DC Council will vote on the most liberal leave law in the country. If passed, it would allow up to 90% of pay for 11 weeks but wouldn't go into effect until 2020. (Post)

Transit oriented affordability: Communities along the Silver Line and future Purple Line are trying to figure out ways to keep housing affordable in hot transit accessible locations. (Post)

DC's not into Metro's late night plan: The WMATA board is considering a plan to close Metro earlier on weekend nights beginning July 2017. Although it surveyed the best of the post-SafeTrack maintenance plans put forward, Mayor Bowser says Metro isn't doing enough to accommodate riders who depend on it. (WAMU)

Metro considers downsizing: Could Metro save money by selling its Chinatown HQ and buying smaller, less expensive office space elsewhere? They're working to figure that out. The building probably needs more work than its worth. (WBJ)

Changes for Barrel House Liquor: Logan Circle's Barrel House Liquor store may become a 7-story mixed use building, if all goes as planned. The developer, who hopes to break ground next fall, says they will retain the iconic entrance. (UrbanTurf)

What is middle class, anyway: Mayor Bowser is catching flak for celebrating Small Business Saturday at Shaw Bijou, where dinner for two can cost almost $1000. She discussed the importance of creating pathways to the middle class. (City Paper)

10,000 AirBnB inauguration guests: The house sharing site is projecting seven times more visitors to the DC area for the 2017 inauguration vs 2013. The record of 8,100 was set during this year's playoff series between the Nats and the Dodgers. (UrbanTurf)

GSA's Old Post Office lease drama: On January 20th, Donald Trump will breach the lease agreement for the Old Post Office building when he becomes an elected official. The lease explicitly prohibits the lessee from holding elected office. (GovExec)

Berlin's rent control experiment: Berlin has enacted a complicated, formulaic kind of rent control for its growing population. So far, though, the benefits have mostly gone to larger, more expensive rentals. (City Observatory)

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Breakfast links: 24 long days

Photo by Drew McDermott on Flickr.
Bring on the single-tracking: Metro's latest SafeTrack surge begins today 24 days of single-tracking between West Falls Church and East Falls Church. Once this surge is complete, SafeTrack will take a break until February due to winter weather. (Post)

Sparks fly over digital billboards: A proposal to allow digital billboard around Nationals Park like the ones at the Verizon Center could be a great source of tax revenue, but many local residents are worried about light pollution and obstructed views. (Post)

Student loans to homeownership: A new program in Maryland could help prospective home buyers saddled with student debt make their goals possible by providing 15% of a state-owned home's purchasing price towards paying off loans. (Post)

Ben Carson for HUD Secretary?: Donald Trump has suggested Ben Carson for HUD secretary. Carson previously had said he's not qualified to run a cabinet agency, and he doesn't support efforts to further fair housing. (CityLab)

Uncertainty for Women's March on Washington: Women from around the country are planning to come to Washington on January 21 for a march. One problem: the organizers don't yet have a permit or a location. (Slate)

Kenilworth's big moment: Kenilworth in Northeast DC is on the verge of being gentrified. Long-time residents are glad to see some changes like the redevelopment of nearby housing projects but want to remain a part of Kenilworth's future. (Post)

MoCo's legal battle: Montgomery County has so far spent $4 million in legal fees in its lawsuit against the inspection company and general contractor behind the Silver Spring Transit Center, and those fees are only likely to increase. (Post)

Muni, hacked: Hackers broke into San Francisco's MUNI computer systems, disabling the fare payment and collection systems and encrypting data. Email systems and possibly payroll were also affected, and for a time all fares were free. (Mashable)

And...: Vice President-elect Mike Pence is renting a home in Chevy Chase, DC, until the Inauguration. (DCist) ... Churches in Petworth and other neighborhoods are signifiers of the changes happening throughout the District. (Petworth News) ... NVTA's TransAction plan has the ambitious goal of addressing the growing problem of congestion in Northern Virginia. (Post)

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Breakfast links: Purple Line setback, confirmed

Photo by BeyondDC on Flickr.
More Purple Line delays: On Tuesday, a federal judge re-affirmed his August ruling that the Purple Line couldn't move forward until the FTA studied how falling Metro ridership might affect it. The FTA now needs to look into the matter and, from there, decide whether the entire project's environmental review process needs to be re-hashed as well. (Post)

New DC school chancellor: Oakland school superintendent Antwan Wilson will be DC's next school chancellor. Though he isn't from DC, Mayor Bowser says she's confident Wilson will build on recent progress to close the achievement gap. (Post)

Stop at the red: 72 Metro trains have run red signals since 2012. In an effort to stop this, Metro will be testing and spot checking train operators after Thanksgiving to make sure they obey warning lights and signals. (WAMU)

Airbnb in Arlington: Arlington doesn't currently have regulations for Airbnb rentals, but it's looking into implementing them as early as December 10th—well before the inauguration, when demand will be very high. (WBJ)

What will the bridge park bring?: Those behind the project to turn the 11th Street Bridge into a park that runs between Capitol Hill and Anacostia say they don't want "development for development's sake." That could be tough given that in 2015, home values in Anacostia went up by 27%. (Next City)

Budget shortfalls hit VA: Fairfax is up against a budget gap of $83 million for 2017. Voters there rejected a tax on meals in the recent election, but the general idea to raise taxes isn't going away given current situation. (Post)

Coming soon to a back road near you: Another round of AlleyPalooza, DC's effort to refurbish alleys, is about to start. Mayor Bowser says alleys are "a key part of infrastructure." (Borderstan)

It's not easy being green: DC, Arlington, and Alexandria are among the easiest places in the US to find LEED-certified "green apartments," or places built to certain sustainability standards. But living in these kinds of units isn't cheap: On average a green place costs $560 more per month in rent than others. (Rent Cafe)

A lane of their own: Separate infrastructure for people on bikes like protected bikeways protects cyclists from injury and death. In DC, fatalities and serious injuries dropped by 50% once the city built out more bike-safe paths. (CityLab)

And...: BWI is expanding to try and cut down on lines and bring in more international travelers (WTOP)... Speaking of which, got questions about airports? Here are some answers (Washingtonian)... Heads up if you're staying in town for the holiday: there won't be much Metro service on Thanksgiving (WUSA)... If you're looking for DC policy initiatives to be thankful for, here's a list (DCFPI).

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Breakfast links: Homeless in the city

Photo by Daniel Lobo on Flickr.
Bucking the trend... for the worst: Though overall homelessness decreased nationally between 2015 and 2016, DC saw the opposite. In fact, since 2007, the District has seen an increase of 191%, the highest in the nation. However, less than 4% of DC's homeless are unsheltered. (DCist)

Replacing the Nice Bridge: The Nice Bridge will be replaced seven years sooner than originally planned thanks to $765 million in funding from MDTA. The aging bridge connects Charles County in Maryland and King George County in Virginia. (WTOP)

SunTrust Plaza squatters: Opponents of the SunTrust Plaza redevelopment plan are now arguing that the area has a public easement on it that can't be developed due to its history as a public gathering space. (WAMU)

There's a lot of construction in DC: The data backs up what most folks have noticed: DC is experiencing its highest rate of construction in decades. Ninety percent of residential construction is rental, and the average square footage of new apartments is trending downward. (DCist)

Show me the receipts: A group of restaurants in Adams Morgan will have to shell out $30,000 and stop serving booze for 30 days after owners were unable to prove to ABRA that food sales accounted for 40% of their revenue. (Borderstan)

Potential HUD pick is cozy with Ryan: One name being floated for HUD Secretary is Paul Ryan's poverty advisor, Robert L. Woodson. The conservative has expressed skepticism of state-funded housing solutions in the past, instead supporting neighborhood- and faith-based organizational programs. (NextCity)

Struggle for housing in Vancouver: Vancouver mayor Greg Robertson is struggling to address the housing crisis that has exploded since the beginning of his six-year reign. With incredibly high cost of housing and record homelessness, Vancouver recently became one of the first cities in Canada to institute a vacant housing tax. (The Guardian)

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Breakfast links: Back to the drawing board?

Photo by thisisbossi on Flickr.
No more private parking: WMATA just scuttled a plan to privatize its parking lots. The plan had many skeptics due to concerns over the conflicting interests of maximizing parking revenue and encouraging greater ridership on Metro. (WTOP, GGWash)

Transportation funding, redux: Maryland legislators are still interested in creating a scoring system to decide which transportation projects get funding, but with a new element that divides the state into regions that score projects differently. (Post)

DC development lowdown: More young professionals and smaller one-bedroom apartments are among the trends outlined in the Washington, DC Economic Partnership's annual report. (UrbanTurf)

Zoning Commission's newest member: The DC Council has confirmed Peter Shapiro to the Zoning Commission. He'll play a big role in helping to decide rules on large development projects, and he's a long-time transit advocate. (WBJ, GGWash)

Help in a changing Shaw: Long-time residents of DC's Shaw neighborhood aren't immune to the pressures of gentrification, but they are happy to provide advice to many of the younger and often more affluent new residents to the area. (Post)

Charter school milestone: Charter schools have been a fixture in DC public education for 20 years. There have been some bumps in the road with transparency and accountability, plus concerns over expulsions and suspensions, but as the city grows, charters will continue to play an important role. (Post)

Dupont's high-tech park: A new pocket park overlooking Connecticut Avenue next to Dupont Circle will power accent lights with a new technology that converts kinetic energy generated by pedestrians walking over special panels. (PoPville)

And...: Check out plans for a mixed-use development in Anacostia. (Curbed) ... Muriel Bowser may be more hesitant than other mayors to confront Donald Trump's immigration rhetoric because DC depends more on federal funding. (Post) ... Copenhagen now has more bicycling than driving (and maybe this is why). (Co.Exist)

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Weekend links: Montreal's attempt to slow growth

Montreal's city council is limiting the number of new restaurants in one neighborhood in hopes that the move will slow rising prices. The buildings we live and work in shape how we think, and designers are hoping that's just the tip of the iceberg. Some argue that our urban policies of the last two decades drove down city voter turnout earlier this month. Read about this, and more, from world of transportation, land use, and other related areas!

Photo by La Belle Province on Flickr.

Of Montreal: In an effort to fight gentrification, the city of Montreal has determined that a street in a booming neighborhood will not open any new high-end restaurants. The law passed by city council states that a new restaurant cannot open within 25 meters of an existing one, while other stores are more than welcome. This has drawn complaints from merchants but has pleased residents that think the move will keep rents in the city lower than in contemporaries like Vancouver and Toronto. (Guardian)

Messing with your mind: Stop for a second and look around. The place where you are reading this could be controlling your mind. Interiors and exteriors of buildings have a strong influence on how humans feel. Designers are working to learn more so they can do things like build hospitals that heal people more quickly or prisons that do a better job of rehabilitating. (Curbed)

Blame urban policy: Is our country's urban policy of the last 25 years the reason fewer urban voters turned out this year than in 2008? Commentator James DeFilippis thinks so, saying that policies that are too market focused, help people that already have capital, and outsource community action have failed to make a noticeable positive difference in the lives of many city dwellers. (Metropolitics)

Car, car revolution?: Ford's CEO Mark Fields believes that cars aren't the future of his company. At the recent Automobility LA conference, Fields said he wants to focus on moving people rather than moving vehicles. A focus on urban transportation modes and partnerships with cities would be a welcome shift for anyone hoping we'll cut back on our car dependence. (Los Angeles Times).

Three paths for self-driving cars: Some people see three different scenarios coming to pass once electric autonomous vehicles are really a feasible option: dense, high-income places where people share self-driving cars the way we do with ride hailing services now, sprawling places where most people buy their own, and places where the technology just doesn't work because the infrastructure isn't good enough or there are too many unpredictable pedestrians. (Fast Company Co-Exist)

The psychology behind why we're OK with sitting in traffic

Most people hate traffic, yet we are willing to sit in it for long periods of time to get to where we are going. Have you ever wondered why you put up with it? In this episode of Transit Trends, Dr. Bob Duke and Dr. Art Markman, the hosts of the podcast Two Guys on Your Head and recent authors of a book called Brain Briefs, sit down with host Erica Brennes to discuss the psychology behind sitting in traffic.

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