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Rochester’s Inner Loop Offers a New Shot at Traditional Neighborhood Development

Posted by: Bob Williams

Removing this enormous physical divide from our city's landscape will open up a world of possibilities for the reclaimed land, and the neighborhoods on either side of the rift. A blank canvas if you will. Before we put pencil to paper, let's go over some of the rules for good neighborhood design.Imagine a Rochester without an noose-like expressway dividing downtown-adjacent neighborhoods on the north and east sides. An obstacle to true connectivity for over 50 years, imagine the loop and its ramps filled in to grade instantaneously at the snap of your fingers. Naturally the next question arrives in our minds immediately, ‘How will we utilize this reclaimed real estate?’

Consider the example of Alexandria, Virginia. Originally platted in 1749. Six fundamental tenets of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) differentiate this inviting river city from generic drivable suburbanism.If the goals are to reconnect severed neighborhood conduits, promote commerce, reduce car dependence, ensure ease of navigation, and foster a dynamic and vibrant streetscape, the answer lies not in a grandiose vision of the future, but more likely in our historic roots.

Consider the example of Alexandria, Virginiaexternal link. Originally platted in 1749 on land donated by Philip and John Alexander, six fundamental tenets of Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) differentiate this inviting river city from generic drivable suburbanism…

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Help Protect Funding for the ‘Partnership for Sustainable Communities’

The U.S. House of Representatives just stripped funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership next Thursday. NOW is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.The U.S. House of Representatives just stripped funding for the federal Partnership for Sustainable Communities. The Senate will consider funding for the Partnership next Thursday.

NOW is the time to tell your Senators to maintain funding for this important program.

These are tough economic times, which makes it even more important to keep the innovative programs that put federal dollars to good use rebuilding our local economies, strengthening our communities, and creating necessary jobs.

Earlier this year when the Partnership was under threat, your voices made a real difference and funding was preserved. Now we need your voices to be heard even louder.

Tell your Senators: Protect funding for the Partnership for Sustainable Communities.external link

Make sure that Congress knows we will not accept shortsighted cuts that sacrifice the health of our communities.

From connecting affordable housing with jobs to turning dilapidated lots into vibrant downtown centers, the Partnership is making a difference in our communities, where we are hurting the most.

Please tell your lawmakers not to take away crucial opportunities for our communities.external link

This is the time when we need your voice the most. Thank you for all that you do.

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Governor Cuomo Signs “Complete Streets”

Pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in Rochester (and across New York state) will soon benefit from a new Complete Streets law. Thanks to the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and outspoken citizens like you! [FLICKR PHOTO: _Yoshi]
Earlier this year, Reconnect Rochester teamed up with Tri-State Transportation Campaignexternal link and other transportation advocacy groups from around New York state in an effort to mobilize support for, and urge Governor Cuomo to sign New York’s first Complete Streets law. Thousands of you and other New Yorkers signed petitions and wrote and called your representatives. It made all the difference, helping to get this issue onto the agendas of elected officials and making sure it passed during a busy legislative session.

Pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders in Rochester (and across New York state) will soon benefit from a new Complete Streets law. Thanks to the volunteers at Reconnect Rochester and outspoken citizens like you! [IMAGE: Reconnect Rochester]Earlier this week Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the billexternal link that will make streets safer for everyone. The law will ensure that major road projects take into account the needs of pedestrians, cyclists, and people of all ages and abilities.

Whether young or old; on foot, in a wheelchair, on a bike, or in a car, everyone is safer when roads are designed so everyone can use them. Roads designed according to complete streets principlesexternal link are safer and encourage walking and cycling, leading to healthier neighborhoods and better quality of life. This is an extremely important reform that will save lives.

Thank YOU for helping to win positive change!

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Mapnificent, Meet Rochester.

Posted by: John Lam

Rochester is now on Mapnificent thanks to Reconnect Rochester!
Scoop one for Reconnect Rochester! Several days ago we noticed Mapnificent.net (a new site for visualizing transit reachability) hadn’t included Rochester among its cities. Clicking into its support forum led me to a post also seeking support for Rochester. A quick search told us our bus company had just announced the public availability of their General Transit Feed Specification, so in response we posted the location of this feed and within an hour Rochester debuted in Mapnificentexternal link.

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How Transit Options Make for a Cool Place to Live… Even Jersey

By now you’ve probably have heard of this thing called transit-oriented development (T.O.D.) external link. If you haven’t you might be living in a cave. Or you might live in Rochester. Sorry—cheap shot.

No worries, let’s get you up to speed with this quick video from the Streetfilms crew. It shows how investment in public transit, along with some zoning changes, has made the New Jersey Hudson River waterfront a new boomtown. The area has attracted some $5 billion in residential development since light rail came in.

According to Robert Cotter, director of city planning for Jersey City, “That’s a testament to transit-rich development… The communities that have access to fixed rail are going to be the richest in the coming century.”

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Beyond the Motor City… In Case You Missed it at the Dryden

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Tonight’s screening of Beyond the Motor City at the Dryden Theater was, in my opinion, a phenomenal event for Rochester. After the film, seven panelists discussed local transportation issues and took questions on the subject from the nearly full audience. Of course, in the allotted timeframe we were only able to scratch the surface, but this is a conversation that we will carry on in the months, and years ahead. If you’re not already, now would be a good time to make sure you’re following Reconnect Rochester on Facebook external link. And, in case you missed tonight’s event, here is Beyond the Motor City in its entirety. Enjoy…

Beyond the Motor City from Film Sprout on Vimeo.

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Beyond the Motor City — at the Dryden Theater, June 28. Bring Your Pals—It’s On Us!







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BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY is screening in a handful of cities this May and June. It will screen here in Rochester on June 28, 2010.On Monday June 28 at 7:00pm you are invited to a FREE screening of PBS’s eye-opening film, BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY at the Dryden Theater. The documentary is touring cities across America to raise questions—and seek answers—about the future of transportation in America. Can we build the “infrastructure of tomorrow” today? Can the cash-strapped and car-dependent cities of the so-called Rust Belt become new models for fast, clean, public transit? The links and similarities between Rochester NY and Detroit MI are glaringly obvious—and I think you owe it to yourself to see this film.

This FREE public event will come to you 100% FREE of charge thanks to RRCDC external link, Reconnect Rochester external link, Rochester Rail Transit Committee external link, Rochester Trolley & Rail external link, Empire State Future external link, New York Museum of Transportation external link and PBS external link. Immediately following the film a panel consisting of City planners, urban growth experts, bike & transit advocates, and concerned citizens will discuss topics including:

  • New hopes for accessible, clean, and modern mass transit in America
  • The role of cities, and consumers, in shaping the next generation of transportation systems
  • A roadmap for revitalizing the way we move through our cities and neighborhoods

This will surely be a thought-provoking FREE event and a great opportunity for you to take part in a very important FREE conversation for our community. So mark your calendar and bring some friends. Did I mention this is FREE?!

More About the Film:

The latest installment in the BLUEPRINT AMERICA initiative takes viewers on a cinematic journey in search of America’s transportation future. Pictured: A view of downtown Detroit from the top of the run-down Michigan Central Train Station. (Photo Credit: Lloyd Handwerker/WNET.ORG)BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY external link examines how Detroit, a grim symbol of America’s diminishing status in the world, may come to represent the future of transportation and progress in America. Narrated by Miles O’Brien, the film explores Detroit’s historic investments in infrastructure—from early 19th- century canals to the urban freeways that gave The Motor City its name and made America’s transportation system the envy of the world.

Correspondent Miles O’Brien says he’s saddened every time he returns to the Motor City and sees “the ruins of a once great city.” Pictured: Michigan Theatre, now a parking garage. (Photo Credit: SNWEB.ORG Photography/Sean Doerr)But over the last 30 years, much of the world has left Detroit—and America—behind, choosing faster, cleaner, more modern transportation. In a journey that takes us into the neighborhoods of Detroit and then beyond to Spain, California, and our nation’s capital, BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY urges us to ask how we might finally push America’s transportation system into the 21st century.

Using CGI animation combined with current footage of Detroit, the film brings the vision of the city’s possible transportation future to life. A network of trains within the city center would run along main thoroughfares. (Photo Credit: Lloyd Handwerker and HUSH Studios, Inc.)BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY is part of Blueprint America, a national, multi-platform initiative examining the state of America’s transportation infrastructure. Blueprint America was created and produced by Thirteen for WNET.ORG and supported by the Rockefeller Foundation and the Surdna Foundation.

Event Info:

Time: Monday June 28, 2010 at 7:00pm

Location: Dryden Theater (Map it external link)

Cost: FREE – Zero – Zilch – Nada – FREE FREE FREE