Monthly Archives: December 2010

A Bump in the Road to Chinese Urbanization?

As Deng Xiaoping’s reforms took effect in the early 1980s, industrial production and exports skyrocketed and this required rural labor to migrate to the urban areas. Migrants were granted temporary status, but not permanent. It is possible, but difficult to transfer one’s hukou from rural to urban. Yet the demand for such transfers has been overwhelming.

Yet, an article in the national newspaper, China Daily could mean a slowdown in the trend. The issue is the cost of living. Reporter Wang Yan notes that, for the first time, there is now a growing demand for transferring hukou residential status from urban to rural. There are currently no routine national procedures for such transfers.

A survey of 120,000 temporary migrant workers in urban areas working by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences research center found that only 25 percent would be interested in trading their rural residency permits for urban residency permits. The survey covered working age adults in 106 prefectures with large urban areas.

The driving factor is economic. As in the United States, where differences in housing affordability are strongly associated with domestic migration trends, costly urban housing in China could be fuelin

More at: http://www.newgeography.com/content/001957-a-bump-road-chinese-urbanization

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A Billion Dollar Federal Grant to Reduce Travel Time by 48 Minutes

Ken Orski Commentary on High Speed Rail (Illinois, California and Elsewhere

Excerpt… More at..http://www.newgeography.com/content/001954-a-billion-dollar-federal-grant-reduce-travel-time-48-minutes

Whether the program will, indeed, come to an untimely end will depend on the next Congress. To the incoming Republican lawmakers, eager to make good on their promise to cut federal spending, any unspent HSR funds will present a tempting target for rescission. In addition, future appropriations for the program will have to compete with other urgent transportation priorities amid pressures to trim discretionary spending and Congressman Mica’s announced intent to revisit the program and refocus it in ways that, in his words, "makes sense."

It is not a scenario that offers high-speed rail advocates much cheer in the New Year.

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Oklahoma’s Bridge to Nowhere (Tulsa)

The last two years have seen unprecedented attempts by Washington to socially engineer people away from the lifestyles that modern conditions make necessary. One such effort was to attract people away from cars to intercity rail services and transit instead. Never mind that there is no U.S. evidence that material diversion is possible (at any expense), and never mind that such programs would make travel more expensive and usually slower.

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) has been a willing participant in these efforts. The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) funded projects consistent with this anti-automobile “vision” under the discredited “stimulus” bill (the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009). ODOT was among the recipients of USDOT’s largesse, having proposed a replacement for the westbound I-244 bridge across the Arkansas River near downtown Tulsa. Oklahoma caught the attention of USDOT because it proposed a bridge that included a lower deck for intercity rail (wrongly called high-speed rail) and light rail, and was awarded $49.5 million. An additional $37 million will be required from Oklahoma.

The problem is that neither intercity rail nor light rail is likely to be built in the near future. Indeed, the new bridge itself could become obsolete and require replacement before any intercity rail or light rail projects are built (if ever).

There is, however, an even more important issue. ODOT has rated both I-244 spans as structurally deficient. Replacing both spans without the second deck would cost about $100 million, not that much more than the $87 million for the single bridge with the lower deck that will probably never be used. After the loss of lives from the structurally deficient Minneapolis I-35W bridge collapse in 2007, safety should trump social engineering. The last thing Oklahoma needs is a “bridge to nowhere” monument to Washington’s policy fantasies.

More at: http://www.ocpathink.org/publications/perspective-archives/december-2010-volume-17-number-12/?module=perspective&id=2492

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Special from Sydney: Misunderstanding Paris

Reporters, columnists and even consultants often misunderstand urban areas and urban terms. The result can be absurd statements that compare the area in which the writer lives to somewhere else where the grass is inevitably greener, bringing to mind an expensive competitiveness report that suggested St. Louis should look to Cleveland as a model. Sometimes this is the result of just not understanding and other times it results from listening to itinerant missionaries from idealized areas who have no sense of the reality.

A most recent example is from the Sydney Morning Herald, one of Australia’s largest and most respected newspapers.

Columnist Elizabeth Farrelly told her readers that Paris covers one-quarter the land area (urban footprint) of Sydney and has a population of 5.5 million. In fact, the urban footprint of Paris is at least five times larger and the population nearly double.

http://www.newgeography.com/content/001948-special-sydney-misunderstanding-paris

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2010 Census: South and West Advance (Without California)

For a hundred years, Americans have been moving south and west. This, with an occasional hiccup, has continued, according to the 2010 Census.

During the 2000s, 84 percent of the nation’s population growth was in the states of the South and West (see Census region and division map below), while growth has been far slower in the Northeast and Midwest. This follows a pattern now four decades old, in which more than 75 percent of the nation’s population growth has been in the South and West. Indeed in every census period since the 1920s the South and West attracted a majority of the population growth.

More at: http://www.newgeography.com/content/001941-2010-census-south-and-west-advance-without-california#comments

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Smart Growth and the Quality of Life

If housing is unaffordable, the cost of living is high and people are leaving, it probably means that a state rates higher in smart growth policies. That’s the story from an analysis of the new Smart Growth America state ratings on transportation policies the organization believes would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

More at… http://www.newgeography.com/content/001938-smart-growth-and-quality-life

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Building the Train to Nowhere: California High Speed Rail

Batteries (and Trains) Not Included: Even after the $4.15 billion has been spent, the Corcoran to Borden rail stub will be incomplete. The Authority’s plan includes only the building of the rail bed and the necessary viaducts. There is no money for trains. There is no money for the electrical infrastructure necessary to power the trains. Trains and electricity infrastructure would add at least 15 percent to the bill, based upon previous California High Speed Rail reports. Thus, when and if completed, the trains and electrification would lift the cost of the Corcoran to Borden high speed rail stub to at least $4.8 billion.

More at:http://www.newgeography.com/content/001919-building-train-nowhere

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