On the docket: Bus Rapid Transit, greater incentives for green infrastructure to fight flooding, rewards for communities that collaborate
(Chicago) … With the U.S. recession officially over, cities and regions, including metropolitan Chicago, are confronting a new economic reality. The Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC)—a 78-year-old nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to helping shape a sustainable, prosperous and equitable metropolitan Chicago region—has set forth an ambitious 2012 policy agenda, with tangible ideas to bolster the region’s economy.
MPC’s 2012 Plan for Prosperity: Innovative Solutions for the New Normal identifies 10 policy, planning and development reforms MPC is pursuing in 2012. To read MPC’s complete 2012 policy agenda, download Innovative Solutions for the New Normal at metroplanning.org/2012planforprosperity. Highlights include the following:
Connect Chicagoans to jobs, services and destinations along priority Bus Rapid Transit routes.
MPC’s 2011 report Bus Rapid Transit: Chicago’s New Route to Opportunity envisioned a nearly 100-mile, 10-route BRT network in Chicago. Throughout 2012, MPC will work with the city, Chicago Transit Authority, Chicago Dept. of Transportation, Active Transportation Alliance, and local stakeholders to advance potential routes. MPC’s 2011 report was based on a groundbreaking methodology that prioritized routes that would be feasible to construct; improve the use of the entire public transit system; and help people access jobs, shops, schools, hospitals, and other services and destinations. Throughout 2012, MPC is educating local and national policy makers about adapting this comprehensive, results-oriented selection process to their own transportation decision-making.
Provide incentives to communities and agencies collaborating to solve shared development challenges.
For the past two years, in partnership with the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, and a range of other partners, MPC has been assisting four clusters of communities around the region to realize the beneﬁts of collaboration around foreclosure prevention and response strategies, transit-oriented redevelopment, rental preservation, and planning for future housing needs through Homes for a Changing Region. Despite clear beneﬁts, these multi-town partnerships are politically and technically difﬁcult to sustain, in part because long-standing government protocols were designed to support individual communities rather than a multi-town collaboration.
MPC is developing speciﬁc recommendations for regional, state and federal policy changes to remove barriers to these interjurisdictional strategies and reward them for taking a more efﬁcient, effective approach to revitalizing our region.
Another part of the region that deserves rewards for collaboration is Northwest Indiana, where urban core cities, including Gary, have weathered decades of disinvestment. In recent years, momentum has been building – across state lines – for coordinated reinvestment in these communities. Conﬁdence has been boosted as well, thanks to enlightened local leadership and key investments made by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA), a national model for regional economic revitalization. Through the Gary and Region Investment Project, or GRIP, MPC is helping to attract national attention and resources to this underserved area. MPC recommends this focused revitalization strategy receive the ultimate vote of conﬁdence: a new inﬂux of public and private dollars, from both regional and national investors, to strengthen Northwest Indiana.
Improve incentives for sustainable water management.
Communities across the region are employing proven strategies – wetlands restoration, permeable paving, full-cost pricing – to prevent ﬂooding, contamination of local water ways, and expensive infrastructure maintenance and expansion projects. Historically, however, these “green” infrastructure projects have not fared well in the competitive allocation of State Revolving Loan Funds, through which the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) assists states and communities with water-related infrastructure. Loan selection criteria have favored expansion of “gray” infrastructure, for instance expanding a sewer line. MPC recommends revising criteria that guide the Illinois EPA’s State Revolving Loan Funds for drinking water and wastewater management to prioritize rehabilitation of existing infrastructure, green infrastructure, and full-cost pricing.
Download your copy of Innovative Solutions for the New Normal.
For more information, contact MPC Communications Director Mandy Burrell Booth, at 312-863-6018 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since 1934, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has been dedicated to shaping a more sustainable and prosperous greater Chicago region. As an independent, nonprofit, nonpartisan organization, MPC serves communities and residents by developing, promoting and implementing solutions for sound regional growth.