August 1: Speeding up Amtrak on the cheap | 100 years of zoning | Dumpster pool

Alon Levy offers some cheaper alternatives to some of the budget-busting proposals in Amtrak’s NEC Futures plan. One idea: fixing Frankford Junction to cut travel times between New York and Philly, instead of tunneling under Center City to build a new station at Market East. “Even with the high cost of takings, it is better to realign about 2 kilometers of track above-ground, at perhaps $150 million, than to build 4 km of tunnel, at $1.5 billion…This represents a saving of about 83% over Alternative 2, which is projected to cost $116-121 billion excluding rolling stock.”

Happy 100th birthday, zoning! Are you still necessary? Justin Fox at Bloomberg makes the case for winding down the party. “The charge that zoning is used to keep poor people and minorities out of wealthy suburbs has been around for decades. But recent research has also blamed it for increasing income segregation, reducing economic mobility and depressing economic growth nationwide.”

Kensington neighbors are sounding the alarm about the Weisbrod & Hess brewery building, which is on the market and at risk for demolition, Inga Saffron reports. “A new restaurant called Martha just opened in the Weisbrod & Hess metal shop. With building lots for housing in demand, the owners of the boiler house and loading facility put the buildings and an adjacent parking lot on the market. Hoping to see the old structures incorporated into the new development, residents have posted a petition on calling for their preservation.”

Newbold Neighbors Association members overwhelmingly voted to change the organization’s name to remove the reference to ‘Newbold,’ a demarcation many Point Breeze neighbors consider divisive, reports Taylor Farnsworth. The group is soliciting suggestions for a new name at

The centerpiece of this year’s Cedar Street Block Party was a dumpster converted into a pop-up pool, says Cassie Owens. For anyone looking to replicate this, permits are required “Sure, temporary dumpster pool, OK, right on,” [L+I spokesperson Karen] Guss said in an email. “A building permit is required to put up, even temporarily, any pool that is longer and/or wider than 12 feet and that holds water at a depth greater than two feet.”

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