In addition to a couple of ongoing research projects, I’ve been spending a good chunk of my time working for TSTC writing posts for their blog, Mobilizing the Region. A couple of weeks ago I rounded up the pieces I had done over there so far, and I figure it’s time for another roundup. I’ve been told I’m potentially the most productive MTR writer ever, so here’s hoping other people appreciate my writing.
- A piece on the emerging transit manufacturing cluster in Upstate New York, especially around Plattsburgh, and how the uncertainty surrounding the MTA Capital Program is undermining it.
- A to-the-minute look at the emerging federal transportation bill, which was published on June 30th and is of course already out of date.
- A look, based on an interview with staffers, at how CDTC, the Capital Region’s Metropolitan Planning Organization, goes about the business of planning in an atmosphere of fragmented and dysfunctional governance.
- Part 1 of 2 posts advocating for commuter trains to run through Penn Station rather than terminating there. This one is the most popular MTR post of the month so far (which could win me a free lunch), and got play on Streetsblog NYC and other outlets. The people want through-running! Part 2 should be up next week, and I also took wrote up a more technical look at some initial possibilities for through-running on this blog.
- A post on how the existence of the I-81 viaduct through downtown, whose future is being decided now, depresses the economy of Syracuse. This one got a front-page treatment on Streetsblog.net and seems popular on The Twitters:
I took the opportunity in my last roundup to post a few pictures and observations from my latest trip to Schenectady, so I’ll add some more Upstate jaunt pictures to this post as well (little traditions are nice). Last Sunday, G and I took a quick trip to the Hudson River village of Athens, NY. Athens is very small but has a notable collection of 19th-century architecture, and isn’t quite as precious or yuppified as places like Hudson or Saugerties. A few pictures from the trip:
The last one of these, in particular, isn’t just a pretty picture; there’s a lesson to it. One of the very early posts on this blog was about how Hudson, NY’s exuberant mix of residential architecture can teach us about what we’ve lost by stifling creativity through zoning. The existence of extensive, large, and flexible-use buildings along alleys in a small, old town like Athens holds a similar lesson.
Contemporary planners and urbanists often hold up backyard and alleyway buildings–what are now called Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)–as an easy way to add density and low-cost housing options to residential neighborhoods composed mainly of single-family homes. ADUs tend to inspire fanatical opposition among NIMBYs, so it’s worth remembering that their existence isn’t any new plot; it’s an established American tradition dating back centuries. These buildings have likely been used as stables or garages for most of their history, but also show signs of having been lived-in (perhaps by servants) at some point. There’s nothing new under the sun.