Tuesday, May 18, 2010

More on the Bus Terminal

Responding to our recent essay, 131st Assembly District Candidate Harry Davis has weighed in with some interesting comments on City Council's vote to approve a bus terminal on Mortimer Street.   Well worth your time to read (toward the end of the comment list).

Thank you, Mr. Davis.


Vote 4 Harry said...

Thank you, PhilBrick for these words. Since we have "leaders" here in ROC & Monroe County who do not lead, it has become necessary for others like me to lead Rochester. We are running for the New York Assembly on a transportation and development platform. Albany did not do all it could to bring high-speed rail to Rochester. We should have had money right now to re-build the pitiful dump of an Amtrak station on Central Ave if we had representatives in Albany who did their job!


But we don’t.

In the past year, we helped bring bike lanes to Broad Street, helped shut down the pork barrel ren square


and this year, it is our goal, to bring inter-modal transit to the Amtrak Station & old post office on Central Ave, to make way for high-speed rail.

I don’t want to get out too far but we do think we will be able to stop Duffy’s Mortimer bus barn. As John Robert Smith recently told me, if “a city can agree to spend $52 million on a transit project and not be excited over it, nor, be able to explain why we need it…” then, well you know the rest. We are working to stop the Mortimer bus barn and we think we can do this. Why? Because President Obama and his Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood have made “Livability” a central policy goal and it makes sense! We think this $52 million can be much better spent and so does DOT.

What does “livable communities” mean?

“Always ready to shed light on vague transportation language, Secretary Ray LaHood came forward to clarify the term as follows: “Livability,” he said, “means being able to take your kids to school, go to work, see a doctor, drop by the grocery or post office, go out to dinner and a movie, and play with your kids in a park, all without having to get in your car.”

So what we’re talking about here is car-less (or “extreme car-light”) living in dense urban neighborhoods. Which, given the gradual movement towards urban environments, isn’t a pipe dream. But it does present a pretty drastic change to millions of Americans who have come to associate “freedom” and a high quality of life with suburban communities, cul-de-sacs, and above all, cars. As for how the administration plans to achieve this urban-based vision of “livability,” the Plan states the DOT will:

• Establish an office within the Office of the Secretary to promote coordination of livability and sustainability in Federal infrastructure policy;
• Give communities the tools and technical assistance they need so that they can develop the capacity to assess their transportation systems, plan for needed improvements, and integrate transportation and other community needs;
• Work through the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to develop broad, universal performance measures that can be used to track livability across the Nation as well as performance measures that capture local circumstances; and
• Advocate for more robust State and local planning efforts, create incentives for investments that demonstrate the greatest enhancement of community livability based on performance measures, and focus transportation spending in a way that supports and capitalizes on other infrastructure investment, both public and private.”


Please consider coming to our party this Saturday night at the California Brew Haus. I hope I will have some news on this work-in-progress to share with you.


I am waiting on some telephone calls from DC right now and I hope I can shed more light on our progress this weekend.

Thank you,
Harry Davis


Vote 4 Harry said...

John Robert Smith on Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) in Rochester

As someone who had the pleasure of visiting Rochester and speaking to the Reshaping Rochester Lecture Series, I wanted to share my experience with transportation and development issues, in the hope that what I have learned may prove of value to Rochester as it works to better connect its’ citizens and provide a more livable community.

Redevelopment and transportation go hand-in-hand. You cannot revitalize a downtown without providing access to it. Reconnecting America focuses on transit-oriented development or TOD. We work to integrate transportation systems and the communities they serve to provide more connectivity and livability for all Americans.

On my trip, I learned that Rochester is currently undergoing a transportation metamorphosis. The bus lines are scheduled to relocate from Main Street into a new bus station on Mortimer Street. While most agree that moving the buses off of Main Street will help the local businesses and lead to renewed commercial development, is Mortimer Street really the right place to go? With historic buildings that have been or will be converted to high-end and market-rate housing, will a bus facility affect their value? In addition, the station will not be co-located with any other modes of transportation, not intercity bus service, nor the Amtrak Station, nor the proposed high-speed rail station. Failing to think and build inter-modally may prove detrimental for Rochester’s future development when high-speed rail arrives.

I realize that some feel there are good reasons to pursue the current course of action. But with such a major infrastructure investment, it never hurts to re-check assumptions. I understand a portion of the $52M from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) expires this month, but FTA has been willing to extend deadlines in other communities. Obtaining an extension allows for time to carefully plan transit locations where residents and visitors can seamlessly connect in a multimodal facility. Spending $52M is a big decision for Rochester-- one that needn't be driven by artificial deadlines.

It is widely recognized that prioritizing investments that revitalize downtowns and local businesses increases the land value of surrounding transportation projects and offers the potential to reverse sprawl that has damaged the historic character of many city centers.

Rochester has a rich architectural history with its turn-of-the-century buildings. As much of it should be preserved as possible. The link between transportation and revitalization is one that has been proven. Any future planning should take this into careful consideration.

John Robert Smith