“Words on the Street” highlights the best NewUrbs content we’ve encountered this week:
Train Horns Are in Question | Jen Kinney, NextCity
Colorado lawmakers in particular have been dogged in pressing the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to reconsider mandatory train horn blowing at street intersections, saying the constant noise in city centers is discouraging urban development. At their urging, this spring the FRA opened up a public comment period on possible changes to a 2005 rule. It’s a formal channel for a debate that’s been raging in cities large and small, particularly venomously in East Nashville. There, a group of residents who want to establish a no-train-horn “quiet zone” are facing another group that’s vociferously opposed, in a debate that’s become bigger than noise, encompassing issues of disinvestment, gentrification and neighborhood change.
Under Armour’s Owner Wants to Transform Baltimore | Rachel M. Cohen, Slate
As part of an effort to grow the company’s HQ staff—from its current headcount of about 2,000 employees to 10,000—Plank is seeking to redevelop some 260 acres of mostly empty industrial land on the south Baltimore peninsula. In addition to a new Under Armour headquarters, Plank hopes to create what would amount to an entire new waterfront neighborhood, complete with shopping, dining, office space, parks, and nearly 14,000 residential units. It’s a real estate development project that could transform the city.
Unfair “Fair Housing” | Howard Husock, City Journal
What’s at stake goes beyond Westchester County. Through its expansive “fair housing” policies, the Obama administration wants to ensure that poor minorities, who have historically clustered in low-income urban neighborhoods, can avail themselves of the better schools and greater safety of high-income suburban locales. As HUD puts it: “No child’s ZIP code should determine her opportunity to achieve.” Support for “deconcentrating poverty”—that is, reducing the percentage of poor people within specific localities by relocating them elsewhere—has gained additional momentum from a recent Supreme Court decision and new social-science research.
How Regular Citizens Beat Bureaucracy to Reshape Philadelphia | Jim Saksa, PlanPhilly
Randolph wasn’t a power broker or government official, but an architect. Although the idea for a riverside park had been kicked around since at least Ed Bacon’s 1960 citywide comprehensive plan, it hadn’t advanced. What was new about Randolph’s approach was citizen-driven change. Like Randolph, neighbors and advocates have used perseverance, public pressure, and the power of imagination to build coalitions and draw political support, advance their visions for great urban spaces, overcome pinch-points, and move from dream to reality. They have played a long game, by parochial rules, and have slowly changed expectations.
This Autonomous, 3D-Printed Bus Starts Giving Rides in Washington, DC Today | Tamara Warren, The Verge
It’s a boxy, far-out concept that may be the first of its kind, but that’s the point for a company that isn’t focused only on making vehicles — it’s about remaking the car manufacturing business. If all goes according to plan, Olli will be giving autonomous rides at the company’s introductory event on the new National Harbor campus today. The facility, located less than 10 miles from Washington, DC, is part 3D printing demo lab and part inventor playroom, including a new STEM program for kids that demonstrates recycling of printed cars. Local Motors also plans to open new facilities in Knoxville and Berlin this year.
Dallas-Forth Worth High-Speed Rail Plan Draws Worldwide Interest | Gordon Dickson, Star-Telegram
But local leaders in Dallas-Fort Worth, where traffic congestion is a near-universal concern among many of the region’s roughly 7 million residents, want the world’s biggest passenger rail operators to know that if they’re willing to build the super-fast trains in North Texas they will find a more-than-receptive audience.