The Avenue

Getting Rail Right
January 06, 2010

Yale’s Paul Kennedy knows a little something about global economic issues. So when he wrote about the high speed rail this week, I paid attention as I thought it would focus on the role of state of the art infrastructure in the transition to the next American economy. Unfortunately, Kennedy didn’t really tell us anything new. The piece suffers from the typical globetrotter’s lament of travel inconveniences and dreamy “wouldn’t-it-be-great” aspirations.

Metropolitan War in an Imagined NHL?
January 05, 2010

As part of a great-as-usual exchange between ESPN’s Bill Simmons and noted writer Malcolm Gladwell, the two sports-niks hypothesized about the NHL’s future.  Simmons pondered why Canada, the unquestioned home of hockey, doesn’t have more NHL teams.  In response he proposed a new, two conference league split evenly between Canadian and American teams.  Gladwell replied with: I'm with you on the 24-team, Canadian-American conference idea, particularly since it turns the Stanley Cup finals into a border war every year.

Metro Home Price Recovery: Strong, Weak, Non-existent?
December 30, 2009

Yesterday’s release of the Case-Shiller Home Price Index has economists—and probably the Obama administration—on edge. The reason: an apparent softening of demand in October, which translated into weak home price growth across the 20 markets that the index tracks. That followed stronger, more widespread price growth in the summer months. The news has stoked fears of a “double dip” in house prices and the resulting havoc it might wreak in the mortgage market. Like the economy itself, though, what you make of U.S.

College Education: Metros’ Anti-Recession Vaccine?
December 30, 2009

Are regional college education rates a stay against metro unemployment in bad times?

Boise’s Crack-Up: Say What?
December 29, 2009

Las Vegas…Phoenix…Boise? Say what? That’s a frequent reaction from reporters and others looking this month at the list of especially weak performers in the first edition of the Mountain Monitor, our new Intermountain West companion of the Metro Program’s national MetroMonitor recession and recovery index. It underscores how easily it is to miss things when it comes to regional economic health. The interesting thing, in this respect, is how different Boise’s reputation has been during this decade from that of its southerly neighborhoods.

WWJD? Fill out His Census Form.
December 28, 2009

It's appropriate at Christmas time to think back to the origin of the holiday: the birth of Jesus Christ. Most people know this story: Jesus was born to Mary & Joseph in Bethlehem, in a stable because there was no other place for them to stay. While Biblical scholars believe it was probably not actually a stable, but rather a ground-floor room of a house where Jesus was born, the fact remains that Joseph and Mary were visitors from out of town who needed lodging. What made them travel 70 plus miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem when Mary was pregnant?

Consolidated Appropriations Act Should Do Wonders for Metro Numbers
December 23, 2009

Last week, President Obama signed the 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act, an amalgam of six separate appropriations bills providing $447 billion to an array of federal departments. A small fraction of this funding is devoted to supporting federal statistical agencies that generate the demographic, economic, and social data that will help metros better understand themselves. Federal statistics are essential to public policy and private enterprise. At the same time, they are incredibly cheap and, unlike grants, can be used over and over again.

Good News From Detroit
December 22, 2009

Today’s New York Times brings some unexpected but welcome news from Detroit: newly elected city council members are talking about the urgency of regional action. “We need a higher standard of ethics and transparency and competence and cooperation, not just with each other but with our region and our state,” says Charles Pugh, city council president-elect. His colleague Saunteel Jenkins makes the critical link between the region’s crushing burden of segregation and the lack of cross-border cooperation: “One of the things that’s very distracting about this region is that it is one of the most s

New Traffic Lights Play a Deadly Game of Hide-and-Seek
December 21, 2009

Our friends at Engadget picked up on an unfortunate engineering failure.  See, the country has been slowly converting to a low-carbon future, something we here at the Avenue whole-heartedly endorse.  However, we’re also pro-safety.  And it looks like some developing traffic light technology won’t let us have both: A number of cold weather American states are reporting their dismay at finding out that LED traffic lights are so energy efficient that they do not produce enough excess heat to dissipate any snow that covers them.

Americans Still Driving Less
December 18, 2009

Just about one year ago, Rob Puentes and I published a white paper entitled ‘The Road… Less Traveled.’ As the title suggests, our research found that