House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee Chair John Mica will visit Rochester and Cortland on Thursday as part of the field hearings and listening sessions being held around the country by the Committee on the next federal transportation bill.
While the hearings are open to the public, testimony is via invitation only. Members of the public will be allowed to bring written testimony to share with staff at the hearing, or mail in their testimony directly to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee. The Rochester hearing was originally scheduled for February; local advocates held their own transportation town hall to get more inclusive input, and delivered it to Rep. Mica.
Rochester Field Hearing (co-hosted by Rep. Tom Reed)
Thursday, March 24, 9-11am
Rochester International Airport [map]
This past Tuesday evening Reconnect Rochester co-sponsored a Mayoral forum on issues related to land use, neighborhood urban planning, transportation, development and revitalization. Bill Johnson, Tom Richards, and Alex White went toe to toe and Rachel Barnhart (WHAM 13 News) moderated.
In all, well over 200 people turned out and submitted questions ranging from planning to poverty. The event was the first extended, in-depth forum of Rochester’s mayoral campaign and was covered by several local news outlets including YNN, WROC, and the D&C.
Now, in the famous words of sportscaster Warner Wolf, “Let’s go to the video tape!” And let us know what you think of the candidates’ responses in the comments section.
While Rochester searches for its next mayor to take office and begin the arduous task of planning the City’s future, Reconnect Rochester is taking the issues to the candidates and the candidates to the people.
By now you’ve probably have heard of this thing called transit-oriented development (T.O.D.) . 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.”
A potential threat to the preservation of rights-of-way for a light rail line between downtown Rochester and the University of Rochester is the City of Rochester’s plan to convert the bridge into a bike/ped-only bridge.
It’s important to note that creation of the bike/pedestrian link itself will not preclude transit; on the other hand it is important that the project be treated as a rails-with-trails project rather than a rails-to-trails conversion. This will ensure preservation of the right-of-way for possible future transit.
A rails-to-trails conversion will make a later conversion to rail transit difficult, whereas a rails-with-trails project specifies that an adequate dedicated right-of-way (strip of land) be specifically preserved for future rail transit use.
Please attend an open-house
public meeting this Wednesday:
YOU ARE CORDIALLY INVITE TO ATTEND… A Transportation Equity Town Hall with the New York State Transportation Equity Alliance, Reconnect Rochester, and Empire State Future on February 17th from 6 to 8 PM in the Kate Gleason Auditorium at the Rochester Central Library.
New Yorkers’ transportation needs are changing, but our transportation policies are stuck in the past. Come join New York State Transportation Equity Alliance for a forum on how federal and state transportation policy impacts New York. Learn how we can shape these federal and state policies to create faster, cleaner, safer, healthier and more equitable transportation choices for all New Yorkers.
Rep. John Mica, Chairman of the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will hold a Field Hearing in Rochester on February 18, 2011 regarding reauthorization of The Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient ransportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU), enacted August 10, 2005. SAFETEA-LU authorized $286.4 billion for Federal surface transportation programs for highways, transit, and bicycles and pedestrians for the 5-year period, 2005-2009. The latest continuing resolution for extending funding will expire on March 3, 2011.
Reconnect Rochester is a group of transportation advocates calling for the creation of a fully integrated multi-modal transportation network for our region. We believe the next Mayor has the opportunity to champion a dramatic shift in our transportation infrastructure. The transit system this city and region needs will require dedication of time, staff and resources.
We urge all candidates to pledge their commitment to this vision as part of their platform for candidacy.
Read what each candidate had to say about this document and the future of Rochester’s transit system below.
What follows is our reasoning and recommendations for the future Mayor to incorporate into his or her platform.
On Thursday, February 10, 2011, RGRTA will be hosting its Second Public Design Review Workshop inviting members of the community to review and react to design options for the RTS Transit Center . This public review will take place at the Radisson Inn Riverside and the doors will be open to everyone from 6:00-7:30 pm.
The volunteers at Reconnect Rochester have compiled this handy checklist for YOU (the public) to use as a guide to assess how well public comments were received and integrated into the newly proposed designs. Print it, share it, and use as a starting point to form your own opinions and ask the important questions…
Lots of news has been brewing lately over the future of Rochester’s beat-up, 32-year-old Amtrak station on Central Avenue.
Congresswoman Louise Slaughter recently announced that a $1.5 million federal stimulus grant has been awarded to New York state to plan for a new multi-modal station on the site. A $2.5 million appropriation to pay for the station design is expected to pass Congress next month. And Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo has just made it abundantly clear that New York will take whatever federal money is left on the table by newly elected GOP governors in Ohio and Wisconsin.
So for now, let’s just assume that something very interesting is in the works for our pitiful excuse for a train station. This is the perfect time to take a step back in time—to be inspired by Rochester’s grand old stations…
Last month RGRTA hosted a pubic workshop to invite ideas and comments from the public on our new RTS Transit Center . Reconnect Rochester was there and we offered our best critique. After all, the success or failure of this project will impact us all for decades to come.
The following is the result of a collaborative effort by Reconnect Rochester members to contribute to, or try to improve upon RGRTA’s preliminary proposal (PDF, 5.7mb). The ideas and visuals outlined below are by no means a finished product; but just enough to convey our ideas. As always, we welcome your feedback in the comments.
Essentially, we are looking for a scheme that is:
As compact as possible
As safe as possible
Has least impact on adjacent assets
Provides for pedestrian scale on Mortimer
Can be recylced for other uses if/when bus operations are altered
Project Selections Will Expand Obama Administration’s Livability Initiative Agenda, Fuel Economic Recovery for Local Communities
A $293 million investment announced today by U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood means that residents in dozens of communities nationwide will soon enjoy major transit improvements, including new streetcars, buses, and transit facilities.
The nearly $300 million investment is part of the Obama Administration’s livability initiative to better coordinate transportation, housing and commercial development investments to serve the people living in those communities. It is being made through two competitive grant programs, the Urban Circulator Grant Program and the Bus and Bus Livability Grant Program.
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 . And, in case you missed tonight’s event, here is Beyond the Motor City in its entirety. Enjoy…
To view this site, you need to have Flash Player 9
or later installed. Click here to get the latest Flash player.
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.
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:
BLUEPRINT AMERICA: BEYOND THE MOTOR CITY 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.
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.
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.
Not all of the biggest statements came from Smith himself, but his insight into federal agencies and funding acquisition from said agencies was very valuable to our coalition. Also heartening was the recognition by all parties of potential energy realities. This acceptance set the imperative tone regarding the necessity for improved transit in the region.
Smith’s greatest criticism, one that was repeated during the public lecture, was a lack of obvious attraction marketing, and the associated transportation options, to downtown hotel guests and travelers who arrive by train. The implication is that we aren’t successfully steering travelers with money to spend to restaurants and other cultural amenities. A set of newer signage as part of an enhanced wayfinder system was installed recently, but it is proving to be geared toward motorized tourist travel.
Rochester’s dazzling urbanites, development gurus, transit afficionados, preservation honchos, political luminaries, and architectural stewards are all very pleased that the Rochester Regional Community Design Center’s final lecture of the 2009-2010 season brings John Robert Smith to the Memorial Art Gallery on May 10th at 7PM. This enthuasism will surely spread like wildfire once the community at large understands what a tremendous impact this man has had in the realms of community revitalization and improving housing and mobility choices for citizens in communities with situations similar to Rochester.
The future of this or any community hinges on the following concepts, all of which are likely to be discussed at the speech and reception: Read more
If you were at the Circulator Study Public Meeting tonight, THANK YOU! Turn out was good. It could’ve been even better… but there were plenty of people there asking questions and giving input and the room had a constant buzz. Even the media thought enough to make an appearance. There will be another public meeting in June/July to share the preliminary findings of the study so stay tuned and continue to share this story with friends and neighbors. We’ll need even more of you at the next meeting.
The City has partnered with C&S Companies to analyze and make recommendations to enhance commuting, circulation, and parking in Downtown Rochester. Among the potential enhancements under consideration is a circulator transit service—a.k.a shuttle buses or streetcars. Listen carefully Rochester…
…Okay great, now here’s an update. Since that article, traffic to RochesterSubway.com has doubled, our Facebook fan club has grown from 100 to over 400 (and counting), and my inbox hasn’t had a moments rest. This is all very encouraging and a sure sign that the people of Rochester really want to see their city thrive. The big question is; do the people of Rochester care enough to make an effort? All signs point to yes. So far we’ve got 12 people (including myself) who have risen to the challenge. Together we will lead a city wide movement to Reconnect Rochester.
Last Saturday morning, one day after a northeast blizzard moved thru our area, 5 passionate Rochesterians dug there way out of their homes and met me for lunch at Legend’s Bar & Grill. Against the backdrop of a bus-lined Main Street we introduced ourselves and got right down to swapping ideas about how we could help put Rochester back on track—pun intended…
The following article was published at RochesterSubway.com on 2010/02/16. Two weeks later 6 citizens got together and Reconnect Rocheseter was born.
America seems to have taken a renewed interest in mobility. Maybe due to President Obama’s recent commitment to high speed rail—or perhaps the positive results seen in towns like Portland and Denver have caught our collective attention. Whatever the reason, from the top down, people are rethinking our automobile-oriented culture—and getting excited about the possibilities.
There’s also good reason to focus on transportation as a way of jump-starting economic development. Industry requires access to people. And people need to have easy access to centers of employment. Continually improving access makes further development possible. Interrupting access will have the opposite effect. Likewise, doing nothing or simply maintaining existing infrastructure for an extended period of time will also hinder development.
For 30+ years Rochester has relied on the infrastructure choices it made in the 1950’s, 60’s, and 70’s. At that time we made development choices that encouraged our population to emigrate from the downtown core. We scrapped our extensive streetcar system, choked off downtown with the construction of the inner-loop, and paved super highways to take us from the city to the NY State Thruway and beyond. Since then that’s exactly where our money, our workforce, and our future have gone—down I-490 and out of state.