Articles

Building Connectivity in Suburbia: Sunnyvale, Calif., wants to reinvent a 60′s-era industrial office park as an innovation district. It’s making progress but suburban sprawl is not an easy habit to break.
by James A. Bacon
June 25, 2014

Coming up: Car-Lite Burbs. A California developer is teaming with Daimler AG to bring buses, shuttles and ride sharing to an Orange County community — with no government subsidies.
by James A. Bacon
June 25, 2014
Sponsor: Smart Growth America

Putting the “Garden” in Rain Garden. This June Virginians will start spending billions to meet tough new storm-water regulations. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden wants to demonstrate best practices that save the bay – and look really good doing it.
by James A. Bacon
May 13, 2014
Sponsor: Smart Growth America

Reinventing the Formal Garden. Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden is branching out to stream reclamation and indigenous plants.
by James A. Bacon
March 11, 2014
Sponsor: Smart Growth America

A Distracting Doctrine. Instead of fixating on the United Nation’s Agenda 21 as a supposed threat to American liberties, conservatives should articulate fiscally responsible, market-driven policies to address the very real challenges facing local governments in the United States.
by James A. Bacon
March 3, 2014
Sponsor: Smart Growth America

The Zimmerman Telegram: Smart Growth Rocks.
by James A. Bacon
November 26, 2013
Sponsor: Smart Growth America

Testing the Limits: With 22 projects in the pipeline, Tony Kinn and his team are garnering national publicity for their work on public-private partnerships. And they’re just getting started.
by James A. Bacon
October 11, 2013

The Ladies of Pageland Lane: In Prince William County populist conservatives and liberal smart-growthers have found common ground in fighting Northern Virginia’s proposed Bi-County Parkway.
by James A. Bacon
October 8, 2013

Battle for the Battlefield: The Manassas Battlefield has become the scene of yet another irreconcilable conflict: this one between VDOT’s road-building plans, park service preservation goals and local residents protecting their way of life.
by James A. Bacon
May 30, 2013

A Bump in the Road: Under withering criticism for a lack of transparency, the Commonwealth Transportation Board has agreed to a one-month delay before formally endorsing the McDonnell administration’s vision for the North-South Corridor.
by James A. Bacon
May 16, 2013
Sponsor: Coalition for Smarter Growth

From Tiny Seeds, Mighty Collard Greens Grow: The Healthy Corners project is putting fresh produce into two inner-city Richmond markets. If the idea takes root, one of the nation’s worst food deserts could blossom with outlets for healthy food.
by James A. Bacon
April 27, 2013
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

A North-South Highway for Northern Virginia: The McDonnell administration has unveiled its vision for a north-south highway and other improvements to Virginia’s newest Corridor of Statewide Significance.
by James A. Bacon
April 18, 2013

The North-South Divide: Battle lines are forming over the north-south transportation corridor in Northern Virginia. Backers say it would serve a growing population and stimulate economic development. Foes say the state has more urgent priorities for spending $1 billion or more.
by James A. Bacon
April 6, 2013
Sponsor: Coalition for Smarter Growth

Repairing Waterways One Subdivision at a Time: Virginia’s suburbs are hard on water quality and wildlife habitat. You can do something about it. Create a neighborhood preserve and get to work!
by James A. Bacon
March 25, 2013
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Living the High-Line Life: Converting an eyesore into a celebrated park, New York City’s High Line showed how smart urbanism can create wealth.
by James A. Bacon
March 18, 2013
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Bend, Buckle and Crack: The case for the proposed Charlottesville Bypass is collapsing like an old bridge. Even a VDOT consultant questions how well Skanska-Branch’s design for the controversial highway can handle projected traffic loads.
by James A. Bacon
March 12, 2013

Fixing Broken Streams and Broken Dreams: The Bellemeade Walkable Watershed project aims to reclaim a damaged creek and restore walkability to a gritty, inner-city Richmond neighborhood.
by James A. Bacon
February 14, 2013
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Swapping Smarts for Asphalt: Smart traffic lights are no cure-all for Virginia’s congested road network but VDOT increasingly regards them as part of the solution.
by James A. Bacon
January 25, 2013

Kings of the Road: Who really establishes transportation policy for Virginia, the Commonwealth Transportation Board or the McDonnell administration?
by James A. Bacon
January 15, 2013
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Beltway’s Brain: To get a taste of Virginia’s transportation future, take a spin on the 495 Express Lanes project where sensors, artificial intelligence and dynamic pricing combine to optimize scarce capacity on the Capital Beltway.
by James A. Bacon
January 2, 2013
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

- 2012 -

New Life for Broken Streams: Rather than make developers install stormwater-control projects of marginal value, Henrico County pools resources to fund high-impact stream reclamations.
by James A. Bacon
December 19, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Breaking the Cycle of Poverty: Communities in Schools aims to boost graduation rates for inner city Richmond students by helping them surmount a deep-rooted culture of poverty.
by James A. Bacon
November 25, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Taking Bicycles Seriously:  Bike lanes in Arlington County are not a parks & recreation sideshow — they create transportation options, reduce traffic congestion and promote healthy lifestyles.
by James A. Bacon
November 15, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

Taming the Asphalt Jungle: Rain gardens and pervious pavers are encroaching on hard surfaces as Richmond’s three-year-old stormwater utility rolls out programs to control flooding and reduce runoff into the James River.
by James A. Bacon
November 4, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours of Virginia Health System

APM’s Case for Port Privatization: Privately owned APM Terminals provides Virginia’s ports something that the state cannot: super-efficient container yards and the ability to expand capacity without incurring $2 billion in debt.
by James A. Bacon
November 1, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Grass Isn’t Always Greener: The de-lawning movement is slowly taking hold in the Richmond region. Converting grass into flower beds and vegetable gardens creates more attractive yards, cuts the expense of lawn maintenance and helps clean the Bay.
by James A. Bacon
October 25, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

CTB Advances $1.4 Billion U.S. 460 Project: With a new financing plan, the interstate-grade U.S. 460 Connector is a go, as the McDonnell administration touts the highway’s economic development potential.
by James A. Bacon
October 18, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Holy, Moly! Private-Sector Passenger Rail in Va.? While the McDonnell administration seeks funding to extend Amtrak passenger service in Virginia, Hampton Roads planners are pushing European-style high-speed rail from Norfolk to Richmond and Washington — financed largely by the private sector.
by James A. Bacon
October 6, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Heads I Win, Tails I Still Win: The McDonnell administration figures the state can’t lose with an $80 million loan to build roads for the Kincora development in Loudoun County. Not everyone agrees.
by James A. Bacon
Sept. 28, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Laboring in the Garden of the Lord: A church in Richmond’s inner city does more than minister to the homeless and hungry. Volunteers tend an urban garden to feed them fresh, healthy food.
by James A. Bacon
Sept. 14, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

The Densification of Richmond: Pressure is intensifying to redevelop Richmond’s retail enclaves at greater densities. But locals love the Libbie & Grove shopping district just the way it is. Is there a way to accommodate both?
by James A. Bacon
August 28, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

Oasis in the Food Desert: Tricycle Gardens wants to bring healthy local food to Richmond’s inner city. It’s a tall order changing ingrained dietary habits. Engaging people to grow their own food may be the key.
by James A. Bacon
August 2, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

Beyond Beautification: The Capital Trees project in downtown Richmond shows how public and private investment in urban canopy can advance strategic community goals like reducing storm water runoff and cleaning up the James River.
by James A. Bacon
July 16, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

Hey, It’s Worth a Try: The good news: The McDonnell administration has discovered $5.4 billion in “surplus” bond proceeds to help pay for Dulles Rail. The bad news: Money dribbles in slowly and it’s all there is to pay for Dulles Toll Road improvements over the next four decades.
by James A. Bacon
July 16, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Clogging Corridors: Is the McDonnell administration serious about protecting state highways from encroaching development? A dispute over a rural stoplight on U.S. 29 may tell the story.
by James A. Bacon
July 14, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Live Longer, Ride a Bike: Riding bicycles is safer than most people think, and a whole lot healthier, argues bicycle commuter and activist Tom Bowden. With modest investment, biking could become even safer.
by James A. Bacon
July 10, 2012
Sponsor: Bon Secours Virginia Health System

Cheaper, Yes. But How Effective? Skanska/Branch’s new design for the Charlottesville Bypass shaves tens of millions of dollars off construction costs. But will it move traffic as efficiently as the original design?
by James A. Bacon
July 5, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Fiscal Fix: A former planning director proposes analyzing development projects on the basis of how much revenue they generate per acre. The results will astound you.
by James A. Bacon
June 18, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Idea ListThe recently published “pipeline” of 22 public-private partnership proposals does not represent a formal McDonnell administration transportation agenda. Think of it more as an inventory of ideas worth checking out.
by James A. Bacon
June 8, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Smart Growth for Conservatives: Smart growth is too important to leave to liberals. Conservatives must articulate their own vision for creating prosperous, livable and fiscally sustainable communities.
by James A. Bacon
May 30, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Under the LiDAR: New technology is taking cost, time and uncertainty out of highway design. For Virginians, this quiet revolution means less traffic disruption, lower costs and faster turn-around times on big projects.
by James A. Bacon
April 9, 2012
Sponsor: Certainty 3D

Studying the Study Group
by James A. Bacon
April 5, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Virginia’s Next Economic Boom? Virginia’s economic developers expect a wave of manufacturing and logistical investment when the Panama Canal expansion is complete. Opportunities this big, they say, come along only once in a generation.
by James A. Bacon
April 2, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Veto Power for VDOT: The Virginia Department of Transportation would gain extensive powers over local transportation planning under a bill awaiting the governor’s signature. That makes local governments and citizen groups very nervous.
by James A. Bacon
March 29, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Back 2 Busing Basics: Civic entrepreneur Jim Porter has discovered a new niche in the mass transit realm — free bus rides for students and other weekend revelers. Chalk up another victory for private-sector transit.
by James A. Bacon
March 19, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

E-Z as Pie? Not Really: Brace yourself for a slew of new toll roads in Virginia. E-ZPass will make it a breeze to pay the tolls, but it won’t ease the suspicion that people in “other parts of the state” are getting a sweeter deal.
by James A. Bacon
March 14, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Road to Wealth Destruction: The soon-to-be-built Charlottesville Bypass provides a lousy economic return on investment. Only government would spend $244 million on a project that yields less than $8 million a year in benefits to the public.
by James A. Bacon
February 14, 2012
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

- 2011 -

The Promise and Pitfalls of P3s: The $2.1 billion Midtown-Downtown Tunnel project will alleviate some of the worst traffic congestion in Hampton Roads. But the deal raises questions about transparency and accountability in Virginia’s public-private partnership law.
by James A. Bacon
November 21, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

The Era of Foreclosed Possibilities: The 2007 recession marked the end of the era of Mass OverConsumption. Suburban sprawl is over. It’s time to think about what comes next – and to adapt state and local government policies to new realities.
by James A. Bacon
November 21, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

In the Dark: The McDonnell administration omitted critical information from its presentation last summer when seeking the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s approval to fund the controversial Charlottesville bypass.
by James A. Bacon
November 3, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

VDOT Revisits Land Use: Proposed new regulations would reform – or undermine, depending upon your point of view — a keystone 2007 law designed to limit the negative impact of local land use decisions upon state roads.
by James A. Bacon
October 14, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Leveraging Dollars with Data: A data warehousing project coming online in late 2012 will help Virginia lawmakers forge education policy based upon hard data instead of anecdote and ideology.
by James A. Bacon
October 7, 2011

Bedeviled and Becalmed: The Commonwealth Transportation Board seems adrift, unsure how to cope with shrinking resources. Here’s a place to start: Fund projects that provide the greatest Return on Investment and focus on the nexus between transportation and land use.
by James A. Bacon
October 1, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Fast, Efficient and… Less Accountable? The McDonnell administration hopes that VDOT’s “design-build” approach to highway engineering will advance projects more quickly and save millions of dollars. But public accountability may suffer.
by James A. Bacon
September 23, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Zoom Zoom Zoom! Albemarle Supervisors declined to ask state highway officials to update an 18-year-old analysis of the Charlottesville Bypass before putting the project out for bids. It’s full speed ahead for the controversial, $245 million project.
by James A. Bacon
September 15, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Common Sense or Delaying Tactic? Opponents of the Charlottesville Bypass are calling for an update to the project’s 18-year-old environmental impact analysis.
by James A. Bacon
September 12, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

High Maintenance: Maintenance is consuming Virginia’s transportation budget, and members of a Commonwealth Transportation Board subcommittee agree that the state should change should the way it does business. But urban-rural differences could make it hard to reach agreement.
by James A. Bacon
September 1, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

On a Roll: The McDonnell administration soon will unleash $8 billion in new transportation spending on Virginia, much of it geared to economic development. But not everyone is convinced that borrowing billions for highway mega-projects is a wise use of the commonwealth’s money.
by James A. Bacon
August 24, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Gentlemen’s Agreement: Albemarle County and VDOT have reached an informal agreement on how to approach access management on U.S 29 north of Charlottesville.
by James A. Bacon
August 10, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

When Less Is More: Sometimes the answer to traffic congestion isn’t more asphalt, it’s less. By managing local vehicular access to state highways, VDOT can increase capacity at lower cost.
by James A. Bacon
August 4, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Promises, Promises: The Charlottesville Bypass is a go, thanks to approval by the Charlottesville-Albemarle MPO. But it’s unclear when the money for other promised U.S. 29 corridor improvements will be forthcoming.
by James A. Bacon
July 28, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

A Bridge Too Near: There’s a new wrinkle in the Charlottesville Bypass controversy. The bridge across the Rivanna River may prove to be far more expensive than anyone anticipated.
by James A. Bacon
July 26, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

Bypass Surgery: The McDonnell administration has pushed through $200 million in funding for the Charlottesville Bypass over strenuous local opposition. The big question: Will the bypass need a bypass five years from now?
by James A. Bacon
July 20, 2011
Sponsor: Piedmont Environmental Council

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