What’s Next at the Local Level summarizes responses to a written survey of leaders and members of ULI’s North American District Councils. The survey asked District Councils to identify which of the ten trends identified in the 2011 version of the ULI report What’s Next? resonated in their region. They were also asked to indicate if they thought that progress was being made in addressing challenges and meeting new market demands.
The responses indicate that transportation and infrastructure are an area of continued concern. Many ULI leaders saw transportation and infrastructure as an area of need, but one which is not getting the attention or investment that it deserves. In fact, all but two of the District Councils identified transportation and/or infrastructure as one of the top challenges facing their region.
Specific District Councils highlighted infrastructure issues that they are facing:
- In order to maintain its status as a regional planning vanguard, ULI New York stressed the importance of maintaining transportation infrastructure and enhancing connectivity between the city and the surrounding region.
- ULI Arizona stressed how 90% of its population uses nonpublic transportation. Meanwhile, the local government doesn’t seem to understand the need for infrastructure and provides few incentives for developing walkable neighborhoods.
- ULI St. Louis emphasized the need for several hundred million dollars to link transportation to their ports.
- Recent failure to pass a regional referendum to fund $8.5 billion in transportation improvements through a 1% sales tax was a let-down for ULI Atlanta.
- ULI Columbus pointed to a lack of public and political support for multi-modal transportation investments, as well as the need for a regional development strategy, as two of the biggest challenges facing the Ohio metropolitan region.
- Worsening traffic congestion problems, coupled with budgets that favor roads over alternative means of transportation, were big concerns for ULI Austin.
Despite these challenges, efforts are being made to improve regional connectivity and infrastructure. Over half of the District Councils claimed to be making good or increasing progress towards enhancing multimodal transportation and redeveloping suburbs with town centers. Furthermore, an overwhelming 27 out of the 31 District Councils are making good or increasing progress towards providing mixed-use neighborhoods attractive to Gen Y.
What’s Next? and What’s Next at the Local Level are funded by ULI Trustee Thomas W. Toomey and UDR, Inc.