In case you missed it: this week’s good reads about Pennsylvania’s urban issues

     Trivia: can you guess the city? (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Trivia: can you guess the city? (Lindsay Lazarski/WHYY)

    Here’s a list of recommended reading for your weekend:

    It’s been a busy week for us. (You too?) Here we go.

    Troubled waters? Try troubled bridges

    Pennsylvania has the dubious distinction of having the most structurally deficient bridges in the country. But what does that mean and what is the state doing about it? We rolled out our three-part series (plus an interactive map) on bridges this week.

    In part one, we go to Sellersville, where a fire department has to decide whether to illegally cross a weight-restricted bridge or take an 8-minute detour.

    In part two, we look at the state’s plan for how to rebuild problematic bridges faster.

    Part three gives an overview of how bridges are inspected and managed. (Bonus from last week: how about getting a robot to do some of the work?)

    Rising up from the ashes

    We talk a lot about the challenges that face Pennsylvania’s post-industrial cities (wait, maybe that’s because that’s the theme of Keystone Crossroads).

    Here’s a story of one community that celebrates the idea of rebirth—by building a structure and then burning it, every year.

    More cause for optimism: The Daily Beast says the Rustbelt is poised for a comeback.

    What happens when a school district can’t pay the bills?

    Have you been following what’s been going on in the York school district? The state has filed a petition for receivership of the district and a judge will rule on Monday. 

    Here’s why this is a big deal: state control of a school district takes it out of the community’s hands. In York, there’s talk that a receiver will force the district to privatize. That means no more public schools in York–just charter schools. If this wide-scale charterization happens, it will be the first in Pennsylvania–and one of just a few nationally

    Also: a national report gives Pa. an unimpressive C- in teacher quality. The state scores particularly low in getting rid of bad teachers. (Pennsylvania Independent/

    Technology + civic engagement

    State College is piloting a new project–think jury duty, except it’s a community issue that’s on trial instead of a person. And it’s done online.

    Next City reports Denver, CO has plans to fund a new protected bike lane through a public-private partnership and crowdfunding. (And here’s our piece from earlier this year about civic crowdfunding in Pa.)

    No place like home

    Single-family home or apartment building? Next City says in Philly, there’s an alternative that’s gaining popularity.

    Last month, we pointed you to a study that shows millennials have to choose between affordability and upward mobility.  The Washington Post breaks down a Trulia report that underscores this affordability problem. The report says millennials can afford to buy–just not where they actually live.

    City budgets (and taxes)

    It’s that time of the year. Cities are voting on next year’s budget.

    Here’s a breakdown of some of the budgets that passed this week: Bradford is going to see a tax increase, but not as much as was originally expected. No increase in Dubois and Altoona.  But in State College, the council is expected to vote Monday to raise property taxes (by around 30%)!

    (Related: Philly gives an overview of Philly’s city wage tax, which it calls “the single most important–and addressable–public policy issue facing Philadelphia today.”) 

    Getting around

    Not a surprise, but now a study has proven it: walkability is good for you—and your city! (City Lab)

    Also from City Lab: does mass transit really attract crime?


    Pennsylvania is getting more money to help homeless veterans.

    Mayoral candidates weigh in on what they think of the failed Philadelphia Gas Works deal. (Newsworks)

    This map from the Pennsylvania State Data Center shows net migration in Pa. Not surprised to see Allegheny and Montgomery Counties as top locations for immigrants, but do you know which counties have the lowest immigration numbers?

    And just for fun:

    A Cleveland Land Trust pulls off the best prank you’ll see all week (Next City)

    America’s ugly license plates—and the person who wants to stop this terrible trend (City Lab)


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