Vol. 7 No. 29
July 3, 2006

Copyright © 2006
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved

Destination:Freedom
The E-Zine of the National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
President and CEO - Jim RePass
Publisher - Jim RePass      Editor - Molly McKay
Webmaster - Dennis Kirkpatrick

A weekly North American rail and transit update

For railroad professionals
Political leaders at all levels of government
Journalists from all media

* Now in our Seventh Year *

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IN THIS EDITION...  In this edition...

  News Items... 
House approves record transit funding
House passes technical corrections bill to SAFETEA-LU
Homeland Security Bill advances in the Senate
House - Senate conferees reduce funding in supplemental
   appropriations bill
Tax bill impact on transit SILOs/LILOs
Huge transit turnaround in a sprawling city
  Technical lines… 
To journalists…
  Photo Op 
Deval Patrick and friends
  Commuter lines… 
MBTA may no longer be the only game in town
  Across the Pond… 
European Union commits to new rail tunnel in Brenner Pass
Bavaria agrees to expand S-Bahn commuter rail network
   in the Munich region
German rail labor union mentions strikes as possible answer
   to Deutsche Bahn restructuring
China opens world’s highest railway to Tibet
  Friday closing quotes… 
  Opinion… 
Isolation… a common feature of urban sprawl
Salem Statesmen Journal report cites sprawl as health risk
  End notes… 


Have a Happy and Safe Fourth of July

 

House approves record
transit funding

$8.979 Billion for FY 2007

American Public Transportation Association
Legislative Update

WASHINGTON, D.C., JUNE 30 -- The House of Representatives approved the Fiscal Year (FY) 2007 Transportation, Treasury, and Housing and Urban Development, the Judiciary, District of Columbia, and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 5576) on June 14 by a vote of 406-22. The bill funds Federal Transit Administration (FTA) programs at a record-high $8.979 billion level, approximately $4 million above the amount authorized and guaranteed by SAFETEA-LU (P.L. 109-59) for FY 2007, the American Public Transportation Association, APTA, reported June 30.

This figure represents a 5.6 percent increase over the final amount appropriated for FY 2006, APTA reported.

As reported following the subcommittee markup, the bill provides no funding for the small starts program in FY 2007, directing these funds to the existing new starts program instead. The FTA has not completed its rulemaking for this newly-created program for smaller fixed guideway projects such as street cars, commuter rail, and bus rapid transit lines, and the Administration’s FY 2007 budget proposed to set funding for small starts at half of the authorized level in FY 2007, reducing overall funding by $100 million below the authorized level. The FTA, however, released proposed interim guidance on the small starts program June 9, and APTA will press for its full funding in the Senate.

With regard to commuter rail, Northeast Corridor and Amtrak issues, the bill does not impose any new fees on commuter railroads operating in the corridor. The Administration’s FY 2007 budget proposal called for commuter railroads to assume a higher portion of capital and maintenance expenses on the Amtrak-owned portion of the Northeast Corridor, and the FY 2006 Transportation Appropriations law (P.L. 109-115) directed the Department of Transportation (DOT) to establish new fees on these commuter rail operators. APTA opposed these efforts because commuter railroads already pay a fair share of Northeast Corridor costs as established through carefully negotiated legal, financial and operating agreements involving substantial state investments. While the House bill does not include these fees, the Senate bill could still adopt the Administration’s recommendations on these fees.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has tentatively scheduled its subcommittee markup of the FY 2007 Transportation Appropriations bill on July 18 with the full committee markup to follow on July 20. The bill is not expected to reach the Senate floor before Congress adjourns for its August recess, indicating that a transportation appropriations bill may not be completed before FY 2007 begins on October 1. If that occurs, Congress would need to pass a continuing resolution until the FY 2007 Transportation Appropriations law is enacted and would probably continue program funds at FY 2006 levels.

For information on the FY 2007 Transportation Appropriations, please contact Rob Healy of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4811 or email rhealy@apta.com. For more information on Northeast Corridor or Amtrak issues, please contact Art Guzzetti of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4814 or email aguzzetti@apta.com.

Program
FY 2006
Final Appropriation
(a) (Millions)
FY 2007
House-Passed Bill (Millions)
Change from
FY 2006 Appropriation to
FY 2007 House-Passed Bill
Dollars (Millions) Percent
Total All Programs 8,504.5 8,978.8 474.3 5.6%
Formula Programs and Bus Capital Total 6,862.8 7,262.8 399.9 5.8%
§ 5307 Urbanized Area 3,432.0 3,606.2 174.2 5.1%
§ 5340 Growing States and High Density States 384.1 404.0 19.9 5.2%
§ 5311 Rural Area 384.1 404.0 19.9 5.2%
§ 5310 Elderly and Disabled 110.9 117.0 6.1 5.5%
§ 5317 New Freedom 77.2 81.0 3.8 4.9%
§ 5308 Clean Fuels Formula 42.6 45.0 2.4 5.7%
§ 3038 Over-the Road Bus 7.4 7.6 0.2 2.4%
§ 5309(m)(2)(B) Fixed-Guideway Modernization (b) 1,329.8 1,448.0 118.2 8.9%
§ 5309(m)(2)(C) Bus and Bus Facilities 814.0 855.5 41.5 5.1%
§ 5305 Planning 94.1 99.0 5.0 5.3%
§ 5316 Job Access and Reverse Commute 136.6 144.0 7.4 5.4%
§ 5320 Alternative Transportation in Parks 21.8 23.0 1.2 5.6%
§ 5335 National Transit Database 3.5 3.5 0.0 1.0%
§ 5339 Alternatives Analysis 24.8 25.0 0.3 1.0%
Capital Investment Programs Total 1,488.0 1,566.0 78.0 5.2%
§ 5309(m)(2)(A) New StartsTotal (b) 1,488.0 1,566.0 78.0 5.2%
New Starts Less Than $75 Million 0.0 0.0 0.0 ---
New Starts $75 Million or More (b) 1,488.0 1,566.0 78.0 5.2%
Research Total 74.4 65.0 (9.4) -12.7%
§ 5313(a) TCRP 8.9 9.3 0.4 4.4%
§ 5315 National Transit Inst. 4.3 4.3 0.0 1.0%
§ 5314 National Research 54.4 44.4 (10.0) -18.3%
§ 5506 University Centers 6.9 7.0 0.1 1.0%
FTA Operations 79.2 85.0 5.8 7.3%
(a) Includes one percent across-the-board rescission of federal funds
(b) Includes in FY 2006 Appropriations the transfer of $47.3 million from Fixed-Guideway Modernization to New Starts


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House passes technical corrections bill to SAFETEA-LU

The House of Representative passed a technical corrections bill to SAFETEA-LU (H.R. 5689) on June 28 by voice vote. The bill consists of minor technical corrections to SAFETEA-LU such as adjusting the descriptions of projects in the law and would not change transit funding levels. The only important funding change in the bill is a minor reduction of highway formula funds to pay for research programs in SAFETEA-LU that were earmarked but not fully authorized.

The bill was introduced by the leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Reps. Don Young (R-AK), Thomas Petri (R-WI), James Oberstar (D-MN) and Peter Defazio (D-OR), and it was passed under the procedure known as "suspension of the rules" which bypasses committee consideration but requires a two-thirds majority to pass the bill. The Senate has not initiated a similar bill at this time.

For information on the SAFETEA-LU technical corrections bill, please contact Rob Healy of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4811 or email rhealy@apta.com.


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Homeland Security Bill advances in the Senate

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the FY 2007 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill (H.R. 5441) on June 29. The bill provides $150 million for transit and rail security funding, the same amount provided in the FY 2005 and FY 2006 Homeland Security Appropriations laws (P.L. 108-334 and P.L. 109-90). Following the July 4th recess, the Senate is expected to begin consideration of the bill on the Senate floor, at which time a bi-partisan group of Senators may offer an amendment to increase transit funding in the bill. Details of a proposed amendment are not yet known. During consideration of the FY 2006 bill on the Senate floor last year, an amendment to increase transit security funding to $1.2 billion, introduced by Senators Shelby (R-AL), Sarbanes (D-MD), Dole (R-NC) and Reed (D-RI), was defeated under a procedural motion.

Earlier this month, the House of Representatives approved its version of the bill on June 6. During consideration of the bill on the House floor, the House agreed by a vote of 225-197 to an amendment that increased funding for transit and rail security grants by $50 million, raising the total funding in the bill for these programs to $200 million. The original version of the bill reported out of the House Appropriations Committee contained $150 million for transit and rail security grants.

For more information on transit security issues, please contact Tom Yedinak of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4865 or email tyedinak@apta.com.


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House - Senate conferees reduce funding in supplemental appropriations bill

President Bush signed the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act for Defense, the Global War on Terror, and Hurricane Recovery, 2006 (P.L. 109-234, H.R. 4939) into law on June 16, but the enacted legislation does not contain the $200 million for the emergency response and recovery of public transportation in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina that was included in the Senate-passed bill. House and Senate negotiators who drafted the conference report for the law dropped the transit funding along with funding for numerous other programs under considerable pressure from the White House to hold spending under the bill to $94.5 billion, considerably less than the $108.9 billion in the Senate-passed bill.

While the supplemental appropriations law does not contain new funds for transit recovery, the law does include provisions that waive local share requirements and operating restrictions for federal grants to the affected agencies, giving relief to providers whose local tax base and other resources normally used to cover the local share have been reduced dramatically. Transit providers in the region have also had some access to relief funds through Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) programs.

For more information, please contact Rob Healy of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4811 or email rhealy@apta.com.


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Tax bill impact on transit SILOs/LILOs

The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (PL 109-222; H.R. 4297), which was signed by President Bush on May 17, 2006, includes language that could affect transit agencies that entered into Sale In/Lease Out or Lease In/Lease Out (SILOs or LILOs) agreements. While the application of the new law to transit agency SILOs and LILOs is still somewhat unclear, the law could impose an excise tax on a portion of the proceeds transit systems received under such transactions. The law specifically exempts from its application those "grandfathered" transit transactions that were permitted under the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004.

APTA has met with staff from congressional tax committees to determine the potential impact of the law on transit agencies, pointing out that the U.S. Department of Transportation not only encouraged transit systems to enter into such transactions but also signed off on each transaction involving federal funds. APTA will meet with Treasury Department staff next.

The same law also includes provisions that require the U.S. Government, and state and local governments, and political subdivisions of those governments, beginning in 2011, to withhold 3 percent of their payments to most vendors and contractors, for goods or services, if such entities spend more than $100 million per year on goods and services. APTA is working with organizations that represent state and local governments on this issue.

For more information on the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005, its effects on SILO and LILO agreements and any other related issues, please contact Rob Healy of APTA’s Government Affairs Department at (202) 496-4811 or email rhealy@apta.com.

(Download at http://www.apta.com/government_affairs/washrep/2006june30.cfm by clicking on “Download in PDF format”)


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Huge transit turnaround
in a sprawling city

Sierra Magazine Green Streets
June 2006

SALT LAKE CITY, JUNE 2006 -- Although it only opened its first light-rail line in 1999, Salt Lake City’s 19-mile Trax line is currently drawing 58,000 riders a day. That’s well more than double the ridership that city and transit officials expected to see by 2020. The even better news is that nearly half of the system’s initial riders were new to mass transit.

“That means that almost half of those people got out of their cars and jumped on the train,” says Sierra Club’s Marc Heileson. “If you can do that in Salt Lake City, you can do it anywhere.”


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TECHNICAL LINES...  Technical lines...

To journalists…

By Dennis Kirkpatrick
NCI Webmaster

It’s a wonderful thing that the miracle of the Internet can bring these pages your way, but unfortunately in doing so we also have to face the very real world of SPAM!

In recent times, our distributions to some journalists have been blocked by over-aggressive mail filters that occasionally think we are the bad guys. And on occasion, the services that we share at our web host can also find themselves in a similar boat, and thus we face guilt by association.

As such, we would like to request that all of our journalists take a moment to assure that our domain, nationalcorridors.org, be placed on your newspaper’s “white list”, exempting it from the filtering systems. This will help assure that our press releases and this newsletter will reach you without delay.

Some of you can do this yourselves in your own e-mail accounts but some may have to ask the mail system administrators at your paper.

We appreciate your efforts in doing so. - DMK


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DeVal Patrick, Marian Walsh, John Businger

NCI Photo

Massachusetts gubernatorial candidate DeVal Patrick (center) flanked by State Sen. Marian Walsh (D-West Roxbury) and former Brookline (MA) State Rep. John Businger at Boston’s Back Bay station this past week. Patrick, seeking the Democratic nomination in the fall primary, is campaigning on a pro-transit platform.

 

COMMUTERLINES...  Commuter lines...

MBTA may no longer be
the only game in town

Source: Milford Daily News via Internet

JUNE 25 -- A new law will give Boston [Massachusetts] suburbs an opportunity to enhance their public transit options. Last week, Governor Mitt Romney signed legislation (which he had previously vetoed) that allows more communities to develop or join regional public transit programs apart from the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority [MBTA]. Local legislators were delighted.

“I’m ecstatic,” said state Senator Karen Spilka, D-Ashland, to Daily News reporter Jennifer Kavanaugh. Spilka, along with other local legislators, has been pushing for the change. “I think this legislation will help residents not only in the Metro-West area, but beyond, who currently do not have bus service.”

Towns will be able to form or join local transit agencies outside the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

For years, local officials have wanted a larger role in public-transit decision making but have been barred from helping their towns form a regional transit authority (RTA) or join an existing one. Residents of their towns have needed something more than what the MBTA offers in order to be able to criss-cross the region more easily. Without a car, it is virtually impossible to travel conveniently and efficiently around the 26-town area.

Romney’s action clears a legal hurdle, but does not mean new bus service will instantly materialize on the streets of places like Framingham, Franklin or Marlborough. The work of building new services would take at least two or three years, transit advocates estimate.

“The legislation only enables us to present an idea to the local communities,” said Framingham Selectman John Stasik, who is also vice chairman of the Metro-West Growth Management Committee, a regional group that deals with planning and development issues. “It’s totally up to the local communities to decide whether they want to participate.”

The new policy will make it possible for RTA’s to apply directly for federal funds and to look for private support. It would also help shift some MBTA money to more local transit needs and give more control to the region in decisions regarding its transit services.

Officials will soon start a public education campaign with leaders from different communities to lay out RTA options. One of the first such meetings will be in Framingham, where traveling to neighboring towns by transit has not always been a high priority for some leaders.

Another town stuck in the middle is Franklin. For years, officials have asked to join the Greater Attleboro-Taunton Regional Transit Authority -- with no luck.

For years, legislators have worked to help towns join transit authorities but when they passed legislation to allow it, former Governor Jane Swift vetoed it.

“It’s gone down so many times before,” Franklin Town Administrator Jeffrey Nutting said earlier this week before Romney’s action yesterday. “But from our perspective, with smart growth, transit-oriented development, fuel prices -- what makes more sense than public transportation?”

The legislation would allow communities to credit 100 percent of what they spend on new outside transit services against what they pay in MBTA assessments. Framingham, for instance, pays more than $1 million a year for its MBTA service.


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ACROSS THE POND...  Across the Pond...

Three installments by
NCI Foreign Correspondent David Beale

European Union commits to
new rail tunnel in Brenner Pass

EU officials gathered in Vienna this week to commence construction of a new 63 km (39 mile) long base tunnel from Austria to Italy.  Perhaps one of the busiest passenger and freight corridors in western Europe will receive a major capacity upgrade when the proposed rail tunnel under the Alps between Innsbruck, Austria and Franzensfeste, Italy opens in 2015.  The busy trans-Alpine route is currently served by a toll highway as well as an existing, mostly two-track rail line which winds its way through the Brenner Pass in the Alps over numerous bridges, tunnels and steep up-and down-hill gradients.

The new base tunnel will provide for a relatively straight, low gradient rail route from Austria to Italy, thus bypassing the steep inclines and sharp curves on the existing Brenner Pass rail corridor.  When completed in 8 - 9 years from now, it will be the longest railroad tunnel in the world, surpassing the new and still-under-construction Gotthard Base Tunnel in Switzerland (57 km) and the 20-year old Honshu - Hokkaido undersea Sei-Kan rail tunnel in Japan (54 km).  The new tunnel is part of a larger project to construct a high speed / high capacity rail corridor from Stockholm, Sweden to Palermo, Italy via Berlin, Nürnburg and Munich, Germany and Verona, Italy.  The section between Palermo on the Island of Sicily and mainland Italy is still somewhat undecided, as a proposed rail and road suspension bridge to Sicily, which would be several times longer than the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, still has many financial, technical and legal challenges to clear before construction can begin.

The new Brenner Pass base tunnel will consist of two main tubes, one tube each for each track, plus auxiliary tubes and shafts for utilities, emergency exists and ventilation.  The project is expected to cost &euro  8 billion (EUR) with 20% of the funding coming from the E.U.  The remaining 80% of the project cost will be split between the Italian and Austrian governments.


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Bavaria agrees to expand S-Bahn commuter
rail network in the Munich region

The transportation minister of the German state of Bavaria signed an agreement on Wednesday (28th of June) to expand three of the commuter rail lines in the greater Munich area.  The S-Bahn (German word/terminology for a rapid transit-like commuter train network) in the Munich area is already the most heavily traveled commuter train network in Germany.  The state government will invest &euro  300 million (EUR) in the expansion.

The expansion plan includes:


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German rail labor union mentions strikes as
possible answer to Deutsche Bahn restructuring

Trans Net, the labor union which represents the largest number of employees of Deutsche Bahn AG - German Railways - stated in press releases at the end of last week (23rd June) that it would not rule out strikes as a possible response to potential plans of Deutsche Bahn to reduce headcount by as much as 18,000 workers over the next 3 - 4 years after the company makes its IPO and becomes a stock owned corporation.  Deutsche Bahn’s chairman Hartmut Mehdorn has repeatedly stated that the delayed IPO will take place in 2007, if not earlier. 

As part of the process of becoming a stock held company Deutsche Bahn AG (DB AG) and the German government have aired plans to increase personnel efficiency, reduce redundant departments and increase the separation between railroad operations and the infrastructure currently managed by DB AG subsidiary DB Netz.  DB AG was formed in the 1994 merger and reorganization of state owned railroads Deutsche Bundesbahn of West Germany and Deutsche Reichsbahn of East Germany.  The German government has already sold off and privatized several large government owned agencies since the mid 1990s, including Deutsche Telekom and Deutsche Post, Deutsche Bahn is the latest and largest companies affected by this trend.

Trans Net represents over 200,000 DB AG employees in sales, customer service, maintenance, network operations and administration.


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China opens world’s highest railway to Tibet

Source: Reuters Limited

Tibetan engine passes Nag Lake in Tibet

Photo: China Xinhau News Agency

A test train headed by a Chinese diesel locomotive (probably a DF8B class Co-Co diesel electric) passes Nag Lake in Tibet.

BEIJING – China, on Saturday, June 24, opened the first train service to Tibet across what it called the world’s highest railway, a controversial engineering feat meant to bind the restive Himalayan region to China.  President Hu Jintao cut a giant red ribbon at a nationally televised ceremony in the western city of Golmud as the first train left for the Tibetan capital of Lhasa carrying 600 passengers. Musicians in Chinese and Tibetan costumes banged drums and cymbals as the train pulled out.

“This is a magnificent feat by the Chinese people, and also a miracle in world railway history,” Hu said. He said it showed China’s people were “ambitious, self-confident and capable of standing among the world’s advanced nations.”  Minutes later, state television showed a second train pulling out of Lhas, traveling toward Golmud. A third train was due to leave Beijing for the Tibetan capital later in the day.

The 1142 km (710 mile) line crosses mountain passes up to 5030 meters (16,500 feet) above sea level and large stretches of ground that is frozen year-round. Specially designed train cars have oxygen supplies to help passengers cope with the thin air and window filters to protect them from ultraviolet rays, while high-tech cooling systems keep the railbed frozen and stable.

The 28 billion RMB (US $4.2 billion) railway is part of the communist government’s efforts to develop poor, restive areas in China’s west and bind them more closely to the country’s booming east.

Activists complain that the railway will bring an influx of Chinese migrants, damaging Tibet’s fragile ecology and diluting its unique Buddhist society. They say most of its economic benefits will go to migrants from the east.  On Friday, three women from the United States, Canada and Britain were detained after unfurling a banner at Beijing’s main train station reading, “China’s Tibet Railway, Designed to Destroy.”  Others planned to protest Saturday outside Chinese embassies abroad.  Chinese officials acknowledge that few Tibetans are employed by the railway, though they say that number should increase. The government also says it is taking precautions to protect the environment.

Linking remote communities

The railway, sometimes referred to as the “Sky Train” in Chinese, is projected to help double tourism revenues in Tibet by 2010 and reduce transport costs for goods by 75 percent, the official Xinhua News Agency said.  Chinese officials have wanted to build a railway to Tibet for decades but were put off by the engineering challenges.  The project was launched in earnest in 2001 after engineers decided they could deal with the high altitude and temperature extremes of the Tibetan plateau. In some places, crews building the line worked at such high altitudes that they were forced to breathe bottled oxygen.

The railway’s highest station will be in Nagqu, a town at 4526 meters above seal level in the rolling grasslands of the Tibetan plateau.  According to to Xinhua News Agency, the highest point on the line is 5101 meters above sea level, which the government says is a world record. Peru’s Lima-Huancayo line claimed the highest record previously, rising to above 4800 meters.


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STOCKS...  Selected Friday closing quotes...

Source: MarketWatch.com

  Friday One Week
Earlier
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)79.2577.22
Canadian National (CNI)43.7542.34
Canadian Pacific (CP)51.1448.87
CSX (CSX)70.4465.46
Florida East Coast (FLA)52.3350.11
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)35.4732.68
Kansas City Southern (KSU)27.7025.48
Norfolk Southern (NSC)53.2250.89
Providence & Worcester (PWX)20.4017.90
Union Pacific (UNP)92.9688.80


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OPINION...  Opinion...

Sprawl and its consequences…

Isolation… a common feature of urban sprawl

Source: Sarasota Herald-Tribune with
information from the Washington Post

NORTH PORT, FL, JUNE 25 - - Loneliness isn’t the only concern of local policemen and social leaders in suburban Florida. Crime is another by-product of sprawl.

A story in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune by Erin Bryce starts: “Brian McClain raised an assault rifle to his shoulder, pointing the barrel at four police officers in his front yard. A myriad of shots rang out.

“But the shots at 11 p.m. June 5 went unnoticed in the quiet neighborhood near Haberland Boulevard.

“There were no calls to the county’s emergency dispatch center. And none of the neighbors said they knew McClain, who was wounded, or even each other.”

In North Port, on Johannesberg Road, neighbors don’t know each other, people are coming and going in the cars, new residents are flooding the area (more than 4000 building permits were issued last year in the town. There is little chance to meet casually or spontaneously on the street since everyone is in a car and there is no established “downtown” in a central area that would bring people together.

“Everyone is busy in this world, doing something,” said Lt. Chuck Lesaltato, spokesman for the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s just a different world we live in.”

A national study released last week shows that a quarter of Americans say they have no one with whom they can discuss personal troubles, more than double the number who were similarly isolated in 1985. Overall, the number of people Americans have in their closest circle of confidants has dropped from about three to about two, according to a study by Duke University and the University of Arizona.

The isolation problem is especially true in urban sprawl areas, with little public transportation, few sidewalks and bicycle lanes, and a dependency on automobiles, said Douglas Morris, who studied urban sprawl for eight years before writing a book on the subject.

“Neighbors don’t know neighbors,” Morris said. “Once you come home, you cocoon yourself in your home. If people don’t know their neighbors … the possibility for crime drastically escalates.”

Police can’t prevent crime all on their own. It is a big help if the neighborhood is involved. Neighbors who know each other can report anything suspicious to local authorities. They will notice if a car is missing or out of place. They know if someone is on vacation or if an alarm goes off. Word then spreads among criminals, who will flag a neighborhood as a place to avoid, according to Captain Robert Estrada of the North Port Police Dept.

To counter this trend, Sarasota County has a Neighborhood Grant Program directed by a paid coordinator. The program is designed to encourage neighbors to band together and create a voice. So far, the program has helped various Sarasota County neighborhoods create newsletters complete landscaping projects and make crosswalk enhancements.

Forty neighborhoods in North Port have identified themselves to the program.

Holiday celebrations and special gatherings are organized that bring people together in the neighborhood parks.

It takes initiative and a desire to be involved said Rochelle Brassard, grants coordinator for Sarasota County’s Neighborhood Grant Program.

People need to find ways to connect. “ If we don’t, we’re the ones who pay for it,” said Vanessa Carusone, North Port City Commissioner.


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Salem Statesmen Journal report
cites sprawl as health risk

By Beth Casper
© 2006 The Salem (OR) Statesman Journal.
Reprinted by Permission

SALEM, OR— Tim Buckley and his wife used some unusual tools to find a home this spring.

With a Salem map and a compass, they drew circles around areas that had services they needed and then searched for homes within a mile of that area.

The couple envisioned a place where they biked and walked to coffee shops, dry cleaners, restaurants and the post office.

“We’d both been thinking about our impact on the environment,” Buckley said. “We just decided we wanted to downsize and have a smaller place and live closer to the city.”

It turns out that the move means the couple is safer and healthier, according to a new report that explored the link between health and sprawl in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and British Columbia.

The 2006 Cascadia Scorecard expands on research that shows a link between sprawl and health risks, such as obesity, chronic illness and fatalities from car crashes. The report also rated Northwest states on other trends, including energy use, wildlife, population growth, pollution and economic security.

Oregon’s fatality rate from car crashes is 13.9 deaths per 100,000 residents, and Washington’s is 12.7 deaths for the same number of people. British Columbia has 9.8 deaths per 100,000 people.

“Generally speaking, the more you drive, the higher your risk of a car crash,” said research director Clark Williams-Derry. “And the more sprawling place you live, the more you drive.”

The Scorecard recommends that policies be implemented to encourage a blend of stores and services in residential areas, create street connections instead of winding roads that end in cul-de-sacs, allow infill and put a boundary on sprawl -- all with the recognition that these policies improve health.

For other health measures, Oregon doesn’t fare well in the report. Oregon’s obesity rate, 21 percent of the population, nearly has doubled since 1990 and is almost twice British Columbia’s 12 percent.

The report said that British Columbia’s better record is in part attributable to pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. Many couples make that choice.

Eric Kittleson and his wife, Carole Smith, have lived above downtown shops for 15 years.

They put less than half the miles on their car than other Oregonians. Oregon residents drive about 9,900 miles every year. Kittleson and his wife put a combined 8,000 miles on two cars per year.

The couple said they feel better knowing that they didn’t contribute to sprawl, which expands the system of pipes, roads and wires that must go in when a development is created.

“We realized the value of living downtown is that we are not using anything that doesn’t already have an infrastructure in place,” he said.

That’s not even the best part of living in a compact neighborhood, Kittleson said.

“Our life is at a human scale,” he said. “Your life doesn’t revolve around your car. ... We do more walking and you run into people and it is a more social lifestyle.”

Buckley and his wife, Elaine Hultengren, were drawn to downtown but opted for a home near the proposed Pringle Creek community off Fairview Industrial Drive SE that is half the size of their previous home.

“Our decision was driven by price but was even more driven by lifestyle, where to live so we don’t need the car as much,” Buckley said.

So far, it has worked.

Hultengren is commuting to work on the Capitol Mall by bus or bike every day. Buckley now bikes between 30 to 50 miles per week instead of 20 to 30 miles. And their car’s odometer turns much slower than it used to.

“We are still growing out of the era where the car is going to be everything,” Buckley said. “More and more, the designs are going back to grids that are connected and being able to walk to places rather than getting stuck in traffic.”


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End Notes...

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. M. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

Destination: Freedom is partially funded by the Surdna Foundation, and other contributors.

Photo submissions are welcome. NCI is always interested in images that demonstrate the positive aspects of rail, transit, and intermodalism, as well as of current newsworthy events associated with our mission. Please contact the webmaster in advance of sending images so we can recommend attachment by e-mail or grant direct file transfer protocols (FTP) access depending on size and number. Descriptive text which includes location, train name, and something about the content of the image is encouraged. We will credit the photographer and offer a return link to your e-mail address or web site.

Journalists and others who wish to receive high quality NCI-originated images by Leo King and other photo journalists should contact our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org for additional information.

In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, governor’s offices, and transportation professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the uniform resource locator address (URL) our webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.


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