[ Ø ] Harsh Prakash – GIS Blog

Quiet Musings On Applied Spatial (Health, Disaster, Technology, Planning et al.)

Archive for the ‘interview’ tag

Interview: Senator Cardin, Maryland, speaks on transportation (2009)

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This is a little fresh air for an old post that was collecting cobwebs as a draftee:

During this year’s Planner’s Day on Capitol Hill, I got an opportunity to interview Senator Cardin on changing federal policies that affect planning. This is an excerpt from our interview. The full interview can be found at the Division’s website.

Harsh – What are some of your main expectations from the next federal surface transportation bill?

Senator – We face three fundamental challenges with the new transportation bill –

With bridges failing, congested roadways, and transit systems strained to the limit, we need to make a major new investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure. According to the US DOT, the average annual cost to maintain both highways and bridges at their current level for the next 20 years could reach $78.8 billion, while it would take approximately $131.7 billion per year to improve the condition of both highways and bridges Those figures don’t include the billions more needed for our transit systems and their needed expansions. We must act to make a major new investment in a system that is under extreme stress.

Our transportation policy needs to be reoriented to the nation’s needs in the new century. We need to better integrate our various modes of transportation for handling the nation’s commercial goods. That includes freight rail, harbors, and highway trucking routes, including their interconnection to air freight facilities. Our current system for moving people to and from their work, schools, and recreation also will need to be fundamentally rethought. That will mean a much greater focus on mass transit, alternative modes of transportation, smart growth, reduction in the number of vehicle miles traveled as a policy goal, and so much more. We need a transportation policy that supports our goal of reducing our dependence on foreign oil and reduces the generation of greenhouse gases. The new surface transportation law will not accomplish all of these changes overnight, but the new bill should put us on a fundamentally different path than we have taken in the past.

We will need to explore new ways to fund our national transportation programs. Our current reliance on a static “gas tax” is already coming up short: $8 billion in the current fiscal year. If we are successful in moving more commuters out of their cars and into buses and subways, we will see those gas tax revenues decline, not increase. If we are successful in encouraging people to live where they work and to telecommute, gas tax receipts will fall even further.

Harsh – Given the bridge tragedy in Minneapolis last year and the subsequent findings of the National Transportation Safety Board, do you support in principle the National Plan for Infrastructure Investment, and also as a way to stimulate our economy in a time of financial uncertainty?

Senator – The collapse of the I-35 Bridge was a tragedy for Minnesota and for the nation. The bridge failure resulted in 13 deaths. The accident has already spurred the nation into action.

There are approximately 600,000 bridges on highways throughout the United States. About 51 percent of bridges are state owned, 47 percent are locally owned, and less than two percent are owned by the Federal government or private entities. National surveys indicate that nearly one-quarter of all these bridges are structurally deficient.

In addition to the funds provided directly for the repair of the I-35 Bridge, the Congress provided $1 billion in special funding to address our structurally deficient bridges. Of the 2,584 bridges along the Maryland State highway system, 411 (16 percent) are classified as functionally obsolete.

The American Society of Civil Engineers, the Nation, and others are calling for major infrastructure investments. I support a sustained effort to rebuild our national infrastructure. Doing so will provide an immediate stimulus to our economy and give us the network we need to restore the health of our commercial sector.

PS: Thanks to Mike Burke for arranging this!

Related:
* Senator Benjamin Cardin (Wikipedia)
* US Department of Transportation
* US National Transportation Safety Board
* Planning & Technology Today (2009)
* US GPO
* US Green Building Council
* Data 360

Written by Harsh

February 18th, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Interview: “Geographic Information Systems (GIS) – It’s Much More Than Google Maps – A Chat With GIS Experts”

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Written by Harsh

March 18th, 2010 at 9:27 am

Interview: Ric Stephens, Immediate Past Editor, Technology Division of the American Planning Association [APA]

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As the Secretary/Treasurer of the Technology Division of APA, I recently had the opportunity to interview Ric Stephens, our Immediate Past Editor:

Harsh: So what got you into planning and publishing/editing?
Ric: I worked as a cartographer/German language translator for USAID during college and was hired by a civil engineering firm to prepare maps during summer break.

After school, the firm offered me a job in their planning department and …voila! There are still some plat maps on file from the late 70s with elaborate compass roses for north arrows. I began helping with a local APA section newsletter out of curiosity. A quarter of a century and thousands of newsletters later, I am still interested in desktop publishing.

InfoTEXT began as a paste-up effort ten years ago and is now ‘completely digital’. I’m still helping with two APA newsletters, ‘Private Practice Perspectives’ and ‘Mountains and Shores’. I’ve also published two books: ‘Plannerese Dictionary’ and ‘International Planning Organizations’ and am working on a third, ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose’.

Harsh: Any favorite planning story that you edited?
Ric: There are three unique stories-

Pi: Quiet Musing
Ric Stephens at the Street of Dreams

For several years, I organized the ‘Dark and Stormy Planning Prose Contest’ to collect and share humorous planning stories. One of my favorites is the 2002 Winner, ‘Zone Noir’ by Michael Young who merged the feel of a 50s detective novel with current planning issues. It’s hard to imagine, but Dr. Seuss wrote a humorous poem on regulating signage for the city of La Jolla, California!

Lastly, while living in California, I received ‘The Story of Sexton Mountain Meadows‘. It revolves around the continuous removal of the ‘t’ from ‘Sexton’. I now live a few miles from this very street in Beaverton, Oregon and am a Planning Commissioner for the City. I found the listed author, but he denies writing the story and referred me to a blog author who remembers the incident, but also denies writing the story. The mystery continues to this day.

I am still collecting stories and if you have a ‘hearing from hell’, ‘purple planning prose’ or other contributions, please email a copy to ric@alphacommunity.com.

Harsh: Any thoughts on the New Media?
Ric: We are far from reaching a paperless office environment, but we are clearly moving towards digital information and communication technologies.

For planning in particular, it is an exciting time to expand GIS with numerous databases including satellite imagery. The REAL CORP 007 event will showcase some of these outstanding IT innovations. Our firm, Alpha Community Development, is developing software to link our projects with these databases. We are also developing project-specific websites and looking for new ways to provide online project management.

Harsh: Any thoughts on increasing readership for the Technology Division?
Ric: InfoTEXT contributors have provided outstanding content that is very relevant to practicing planners, agency officials, educators and students. I believe the missing element is visibility.

It would also be helpful for APA to actively promote the Divisions, and for the Divisions to have programs to promote the newsletters to planning departments, governmental agencies, universities and other institutions.

Harsh: And finally, any advice to the new editor[s] of the Technology Division?
Ric: It’s very difficult to find contributors for articles- I’m several weeks late in responding to this interview.

Having a large group of people to help gather material would be ideal. As the newsletter migrates to the web, the publication should probably adapt a monitor-friendly format and be rich in hyperlinks. I enjoyed editing InfoTEXT and am indebted to all who helped make this a memorable experience.

Harsh: Thank you and good luck!
Ric: Thanks!

Related:
• Planning Publications Directory
• What’s New: Books and Documents

Written by Harsh

October 29th, 2006 at 10:03 pm