December 7: Placemaking for office tower plazas | Federal pilot for interstate tolling | O’Malley’s cities agenda

Demolition has begun on the William Penn High School building, reports Brianna Spause. “Community leaders, education activists, William Penn alumni, and some District officials fought long and hard to save the historic North Philadelphia school…But all of these efforts failed, and the school was permanently closed in 2010 and sold to Temple University for $15 million in 2014.”

Inga Saffron reviews some recent placemaking efforts for West Market Street’s sterile tower plazas. “[I]in the last few years, many towers have been bought up by even bigger real estate companies that smell a bargain, and that believe they can increase the value of their new properties by improving the amenities. And, fortunately for us, they are starting on the ground floor.”

The Inquirer lists the ten most dangerous intersections and corridors for pedestrians in a post on last week’s Vision Zero conference. Check out the interactive map and analysis PlanPhilly published with Azavea back in February for more details. What’s notable is that many of the most dangerous corridors are actually state-owned roads, where the state has influence over the design and engineering. 

Yonah Freemark, in the course of arguing that the new federal transportation funding bill is a miscarriage of public spending, and at a grand scale,” points out that the bill is the first to explicitly commit to the path Congress started down seven years ago, where “the amount of money collected via existing user fees is no longer relevant to the amount of money that should be spent.” 

The federal bill pilots a policy change allowing up to three states to toll their interstates for the first time. Would Pennsylvania want another crack at tolling I-80 now that Act 89 is in place? 

Martin O’Malley, former Governor of Maryland, is the first Democratic contender for President to roll out a tailored agenda for American cities. Daniel McGraw reports the plan will call for an increase in Community Development Block Grant funding, mileage-based user fees to replace the gas tax, and a doubling of federal funding for local and regionally-directed transit projects.

Sam Bydlon, Salil Malkan, and Marty Santalucia bring the political science and data analysis to explain the ongoing PA state budget impasse

PennDOT is rolling out a website allowing residents to track salt trucks and snow plows based on a successful pilot initiative out of Pittsburgh last year. 

Dave Davies talks with DNC CEO Leah Daughtry, who compares the preparations for the 2016 Convention to “building a small city.”

Kashaan Kilson looks at some of the zany ideas our forebears had about the future of mass transportation, including human potato cannons, highway conveyor belts, and whale buses

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