December 4: Federal transportation bill reax | Mapping the new land bank properties | Philly’s sewer challenge

It’s the last day to vote for our Jared Brey, the WHYY team, and friends of the site Sic Transit Philadelphia and Jake Blumgart in this year’s Pen & Pencil Awards. You can also vote for the combined PlanPhilly Staff for Writer of the Year in the Philebrity Awards. 

Here’s an excellent new piece from Jake on the new Creed film, which he says follows in”the series’ tradition of depicting working-class and poor neighborhoods without romanticizing their inhabitants nor reveling in the gruesome dictates of the underground economy” showing Philadelphia’s intractible poverty in a clear-eyed way.

Yesterday Jared Brey reported that four City Councilmembers–Kenyatta Johnson, Bobby Henon, Darrell Clarke, and María Quiñones-Sánchez–were the first to deposit public properties from their districts into the land bank. My friend Jake Liefer made a map of the properties for those interested in digging in.

The five-year transportation funding bill contains about $73 million a year in federal funding for fixing Pennsylvania bridges that aren’t technically a part of the federal highway system, Ed Blazina reports.

Reactions to the massive bill continue to roll in as journalists and think-tankers parse it. Governing Magazine has a thorough overview of the major components and policy changes, People for Bikes are calling it a win for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, Angie Schmitt at Streetsblog says freight trucking was also a big winner, and Stephen Lee Davis at Transportation for America notes that the project cost threshold for federal TIFIA loans was lowered, opening the door for more direct federal financing of local projects.

Caren Chessler at Popular Mechanics has a fascinating piece on Philadelphia’s sewer challenges and what the Water Department under Michael Nutter has been doing to modernize the system. “If you lined up all the pipes in Philadelphia’s sewer system, it would be 3,716 miles long, roughly the distance from New York City to Los Angeles.”

Jim Kenney  named Rochelle L. Cameron the chief executive officer of Philadelphia International Airport and Fairmount Park Conservancy Executive Director Kathryn Ott Lovell as commissioner of Parks and Recreation, report Tricia Nadolny and Linda Loyd.

The Delaware River Port Authority’s toll discount for frequent bridge commuters on the Delaware River bridges is again in effect, the AP reports. Joe Hernandez explains why DRPA is giving drivers, not transit riders, the discount.

Some of our neighboring counties are threatening to withhold payments to the state until a state budget is passed. The ever-shifting budget agreement appears to hinge on nixing a bunch of sales tax exemptions, which has set off a lobbying bonanza from industries seeking to protect their tax-exempt status. 

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