Archive for December, 2012

Alaska Governor Proposes 12.8 Billion State Budget

Alaska Governor, Sean Parnell recently announced a proposed state budget that would increase by less than one percent over the previous year’s budget. In a speech to the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce, Parnell proposed an operating budget that spends $9 billion overall and a state general fund portion of $5.7 billion. According to Parnell, Alaskans won’t feel any major changes. The lack of budget increase is expected to come from savings in Medicaid costs.

With Parnell’s plan state spending will be down nearly $1.1 billion from this year. Deductions occurred primarily with spending for buildings and other facilities. In Parnell’s proposal, the capital budget of $1.8 billion is decreased from this year’s $2.9 billion. Accordingly, the state general fund portion of the capital budget would see a 59 percent decrease, down from $1.9 billion.

If last year’s budget had been matched, Alaska would have had to dip into the state’s savings account.

“Our fiscal plan is built on our state’s resources and spending discipline. We focus on priorities that grow our economy and strengthen our families – for Alaskans today and tomorrow,” Said Gov. Parnell.

Key initiatives that will be pushed as a part of the budget are:  public safety, resource development, education and transportation. $531 million is proposed for state energy projects, including $95 million for field work toward a federal license for the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project. A dam and other infrastructure earlier this year was estimated at $4.3 billion.  $50 million was also included for natural gas pipeline development. The money will be split evenly between reimbursement for companies working on a major line under the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp.

Proposed multimodal transportation projects included more than $1 billion in road, airport and ferry spending, including $8.5 million for the Ambler Mining District road, $7 million for the Dalton Highway and $2 million for the Department of Transportation to identify corridors to timber and mineral deposits as part of the “Roads to Resources” program. The budget also included $10 million for a fund for the Knik Arm Bridge.

Randy Wright and Associates specializes in economic and urban development. Contact us to jumpstart your next urban development project. 

Alaskaimage credit: blmiers2 on Flickr

Grand Rapids Proposes Economic Development Projects for Federal Grants

According to an article in MLive, the West Michigan Regional Planning Commission recently updated a series of economic development projects to include bringing four additional projects on board for the city of Grand Rapids. These projects could be eligible for grants from the U.S. Economic Development Administration.

“What this does is allow us to include projects that we think might be eligible for funding and pursue funding,” said Kara Wood, the city’s economic development director. “They’re on the drawing boards should money become available, but chances are they’re not going to happen without the EDA investment.”

Below are the four multimodal transportation projects:

1. Seward Avenue extension from Butterworth Street south to Wealthy Street. In 2011 Grand Rapids received a federal grant for the extension of Seward from Fulton Street to Butterworth.  The city has long-term plans to rebuild Seward Avenue north of Leonard and eventually connecting with West River Drive.

2. Acquire corridor of land along the railroad from Leonard and Plainfield Avenue to East Beltline Avenue. There is an Michigan Street Corridor study project to consider developing a multi-modal transportation hub along part of the railroad.

3. Rebuild Godfrey Avenue SW from Market Avenue to the city limit. The road feeds into an industrial area and would be reconstructed with water/sewer infrastructure, street lighting and bike lanes.

4. Conduct a feasibility study for a life sciences business incubator in the North Monroe area. Grand Rapids has a SmartZone tax district that includes a business incubator in Grand Valley State University’s Cook DeVos Center for Health Sciences, but a deal for using that space expires in 2017, Wood said. The city wants a grant to fund a study of where to move the incubator.

As a nationally recognized transportation consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends. 

mapimage credit: davecito on Flickr

Alameda County Transportation Commission Requests Recount for Measure B1

The Alameda County Transportation Commission is paying for a partial recount of votes after Measure B1 narrowly lost at the polls. Measure B1 proposed increasing an existing half cent sales tax to a full cent; the increase would have raised approximately $8 billion in revenue for roads, freeways, and public transit over thirty years.

Out of the 527,403 votes cast, the measure lost by less than 800 votes. To pass, Measure B1 would have had to gain 66.67 percent of the vote, it gained 66.53 percent of the vote in November’s election.

We owe it to the 66.53 percent of the voters who supported the measure to leave no stone unturned in finding out if Measure B1 was really defeated,” said Art Dao, executive director of the Alameda County Transportation Commission. “This is too important not to act on.”

Revenue from the measure would cover fixing potholes, freeway repairs, boost bus service, and a $400 million extension for the rapid transit and commuter rail system BART.

The recount will cost $5000 per day, the cost will be covered by the Alameda County Transportation Commission. The recount will begin with a partial recount. The county is examining precincts in Oakland and Berkeley that strongly pledged support for the measure, but had a percentage of undervotes.  If the partial recount results are encouraging, then the commission will pay to expand the recount, Dao said.

“Taking an incremental approach to the recount allows us to be very cautious how we spend our money,” he added.

According to Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, also a county transportation commissioner, a recount is necessary. “We still may not win, but we owe the majority of voters who supported us to do everything we can to see if the measure passed,” he said.

As a nationally recognized transportation consulting firm, Randy Wright and Associates is an industry leader in urban development and multimodal transportation projects. Follow our blog for the latest industry news and trends. 


Sacramento Skylineimage credit: 401(K) 2012 on Flickr

Riding Public Transportation Puts More Money in Your Pocket

APTA released the October Transit Savings Report which showed that as parking fees continue to rise, public transit is saving riders even more over driving. Giving up one car and relying on public transportation saved riders on average $9,934 a year.

Slight Uptick in 2012 Parking Fees Lead to Increased Savings for Those Who Choose Public Transit Instead of Driving

Washington, D.C. – A slight increase in the cost of city parking fees provides another reason to switch from commuting by car to riding public transportation. According to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) October Transit Savings Report, individuals who ride public transportation instead of driving can save, on average, $828 this month, and $9,934 annually. These savings are based on the cost of commuting by public transportation compared to the cost of owning and driving a vehicle which includes the October 24, 2012 average national gas price ($3.63 per gallon- reported by AAA) and the national unreserved monthly parking rate. APTA notes a simple way to avoid the rising parking rates is to swap your daily car trip for travel on your local bus or train.

The national average for a monthly unreserved parking space in a downtown business district is $166.26, according to the 2012 Colliers International Parking Rate Study. Over the course of a year, parking costs for a vehicle can amount to an average of $1,995. The cost of the daily downtown daily parking rates increased in 2012 by an average of 1.6 percent or an extra $132 per year compared to the rates in 2011.

Source: October Transit Savings Report

Sacramento Delays Selecting Developer for Low Income Housing Community

The Sacramento City Council postponed selecting a developer for its revitalization plan of low income housing communities, Alder Grove and Marina Vista, in northwest Land Park. The city council decided to postpone after receiving complaints from residents about inclusion in the planning of the project.

John Shirey, City Manager and the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency – which oversees the 751-unit project – are developing a plan that incorporates the redesign of the low income housing communities with other city plans to develop the surrounding neighborhood. Other city projects include developing an industrial area west of the neighborhood, the broadway commercial strip, and the Sacramento riverfront.

According to Shirey, he would like city and housing officials to work with residents to develop a vision “to build a new neighborhood in Sacramento that is close in (to downtown).” His hope is that a more developed community would allow economic advancement for the community’s children.

The SHRA is proposing to knock down the aging housing units at Alder Grove and Marina Vista – formerly New Helvetia and Seavey Circle. The housing units, which date back to World War II, house 2,500 people. The new development would include new low-income units that will be incorporated into a larger neighborhood revitalization plan.

Randy Wright and Associates specializes in economic and urban development. Contact us to jumpstart your next urban development project. 

Sacramento Skylineimage credit: Cynezero on Flickr

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