Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities Releases 5-Year Accomplishment Report

Report highlights improved infrastructure, sustainability practices, increased safety and grant money won.

Philadelphia, October 22, 2013 – The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities (MOTU) released a report on the progress and accomplishments of the office during the past five years. The office, led by Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler, is charged with building a shared vision and coordinating decision-making among the energy and utility sectors as well as transportation and infrastructure sectors in order to save money and improve conditions throughout the City. Mayor Michael A. Nutter established MOTU after he assumed office in 2008.

“Because of this team’s great work during the past five years, the City has benefited from more than $90 million in grant funds to support our infrastructure. Philadelphians now have a better integrated transportation system that boasts new bridges, improved traffic signals and an expanded bike lane network,” said Mayor Nutter. “The City is a national model for green infrastructure. Philadelphia International Airport is embarking on a multi-billion expansion, and our strategic energy procurement program means that more of tax dollars are invested in City programs instead of utility bills.”

Among the highlights in the report are:
•Since 2008, five new airlines have announced service at Philadelphia International Airport and six new non-stop destinations have been added.
•In 2011, the Philadelphia Water Department and the Energy Office unveiled a 250-kilowatt, 1,000 panel solar system at the South East Water Pollution Control Plant, which provides reliable power directly to the facility.
•Traffic lights at approximately 2,400 intersections were retimed and more than 400 pedestrian countdown signals were installed since 2008. Crashes involving pedestrians are down 10 percent between 2008 and 2012.
•MOTU has helped secure more than $45 million in federal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grants for Philadelphia.

Deputy Mayor Rina Cutler noted, “Our office has made it safer to drive, bike and walk in Philadelphia. We have helped rewrite the guidelines for building city streets and we have forged lasting partnerships between a multitude of transportation agencies. This work can only be done because our office is set up to reach out across departments, across agendas and across constituencies. It is this coordinated vision which makes sure that the next generation of streets can manage stormwater and are safe whether you are a bicyclist, a driver or a pedestrian. It is this coordinated vision which helps invest more than $30 million dollars in traffic signals and buses to speed up transit service. And it is this coordinated vision which is helping build the airport of the future, one that will be a powerful engine of economic development.”

For five years, MOTU has improved transportation options so that Philadelphians can get wherever they are going, whether by foot, bike, car or transit. The office ensures that Philadelphia’s water, electricity and gas systems are of the highest caliber and that the City manages its energy use cost effectively. Working with partners from across government and the private and non-profit sectors, MOTU makes sure that the investments and plans that affect the city’s infrastructure are done with a shared vision of increased mobility and sustainability.

Mayor Nutter said, “The Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities is a professional, pragmatic and innovative part of City government. I could not be prouder of what the office has accomplished in the past five years and hope that MOTU has helped to pave the way for a more efficient and effective City government.

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City of Philadelphia Provides Update on Bike Sharing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, August 22, 2013 – Mayor Michael A. Nutter and Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler announced the completion of the Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan and the release of a Request for Expressions of Interest to host or sponsor bike share stations.

The Philadelphia Bike Share Strategic Business Plan proposes an operationally viable and self-supporting size and scope for bike sharing in Philadelphia. Bike sharing is quickly becoming an integral part of transportation networks in cities around the country and around the world.  Implementing a top-quality system is imperative as Philadelphia strives to improve its status as a city of choice.

“This past Monday, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s editorial board wrote that bike sharing is just what the city needs and I couldn’t agree more.  This is a rare opportunity where $3 million City capital budget dollars can be leveraged with millions more of state and federal transportation funds and private funds to create a new form of convenient, affordable and healthy public transportation,” said Mayor Nutter.

The program is expected to have a capital cost between $10-15 million, which will be raised from state and federal transportation grants as well as private sponsors.  This system is not anticipated to require any public operating subsidy.

In Philadelphia, the plan calls for a system of 150 to 200 bike sharing stations and 1,500 to 2,000 bikes that will serve an area that stretches from the Delaware River into West Philadelphia, from the Navy Yard through Center City to beyond Temple University’s main campus in North Philadelphia. The system is projected to generate nearly two million trips per year by residents, commuters, students and visitors.

Bike sharing helps connect residents, commuters and visitors to more of Philadelphia’s businesses, institutions and attractions and provides a clear benefit to the hosts of stations as well as the thousands of users expected each day.  Bike sharing will be another incentive to choose Philadelphia as a place to live, to work and enjoy.  It can also provide a healthy and affordable transportation alternative to a diverse group of City residents.

“We’ve seen bike sharing work amazingly well in other cities, but we know that we have to tailor our system to meet the needs of Philadelphians, which is why I’m asking everyone to take some time to think about where they’d like to see bike sharing in their neighborhoods or workplaces,” said Deputy Mayor Cutler, as she urged Philadelphians to go to www.phila.gov/bikeshare and put their preferred bike share locations on the map.

“I’ve been impressed with the seriousness with which the City is approaching launching a bike sharing system. I expect the system will be operationally self-sufficient and leverage a small City investment to have a large impact,” said Robert Victor Comcast’s Senior Vice President of Strategic and Financial Planning.

Businesses and property owners who recognize the advantages of being linked directly to this new system at their locations are urged to respond to the City’s request for letters of interest. These non-binding expressions of interest will serve a valuable function in helping the City plan for implementation and of a world class bike sharing system to Philadelphia. The City is looking for partners at several levels:

  • Station sponsors: Businesses, property owners and institutions who decide to underwrite stations on or near their property will be assured placement when the system rolls out in late summer 2014.
  • Station hosts: Property owners willing to locate bike sharing stations on or near their property will be considered for deployment in the early stages of bike sharing.

Hosts and sponsors will be indemnified from all liability by the system operator who will manage and operate the system.  The City will be releasing an RFP for a firm to perform this service in the early fall.

Many of the major real estate holders in the city have already confirmed their intention to support bike sharing stations.  According to Jerry Sweeney, CEO of Brandywine Property Trust, “Sponsoring and hosting a bike sharing stations at the Cira Centre and our other properties in Philadelphia is an obvious business decision. Property owners who are serious about providing transportation options and quality amenities to their tenants are going to support bike share.”

Bill Hankowsky, CEO of Liberty Property Trust commented, “Bike Sharing is an exciting program that is already creating a new dynamism in some of the world’s greatest cities. Many of our tenants from The Navy Yard to Comcast Center have embraced bike commuting and many more are poised to take advantage of this new transportation option.”

“For our students, faculty and staff, bikes share is sure to become an important transportation option, which is why we expect Penn to be home to several stations,” said Penn Vice President for Business Services Marie Witt.

GlaxoSmithKline enthusiastically supports efforts to bring a world-class bike sharing system to Philadelphia.  “Bike sharing is a natural fit for the city and GSK, as it is completely in line with our goal of building healthy communities everywhere we work and live,” said Michael Fleming, Head, Corporate Engagement.  “An accessible, easy-to-use bike sharing program will greatly enhance transportation choices for residents, students, workers and visitors to our area. These improvements will certainly benefit our employees, and we look forward to working with the City of Philadelphia to finalize the details of a bike sharing station installation that can support the growing, thriving healthy community at The Navy Yard.”

“A community bike sharing could transform not only how people travel in Philadelphia, but also how they exercise and stay well,” said Independence Blue Cross President and CEO, Daniel J. Hilferty. “For example, for people struggling with depression or obesity, taking active transportation — by riding a bike through a bike sharing system — could help tackle these important health challenges.”

“We believe that Bike Sharing in Philadelphia has a unique opportunity to bring an inexpensive and flexible form of transportation to the people that really need that.  More than half of all Philadelphians who live below the poverty line will live within walking distance of a bike share station. The Bicycle Coalition is committed to helping the City reach out into the communities and help make sure that nobody is left out from this great new form of transportation,” said Alex Doty, Executive Director of the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Russell Meddin of Bike Share Philadelphia and member of the Bike Share Advisory Group said, “The progress made by the City and the Bike Share Advisory Group has positioned Philadelphia to truly have a chance at creating one of the most innovative bike share programs in the United States. Now is the time for Philadelphia’s businesses and institutions to partner with the City in this 21st century endeavor.”

Information on how to recommend a bike sharing site for your neighborhood, and how to become a station host or sponsor for a bike sharing station can be found at the City of Philadelphia’s website www.phila.gov/bikeshare, which will be the home for all official information on bike sharing in Philadelphia.

The Business Plan was completed by Toole Design and Four Square Integrated Transportation Planning in cooperation with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council, Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia, the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission and a business advisory group from the private sector including representatives from Comcast, Glaxo Smith Klein, Independence Blue Cross, Liberty Properties Trust and the University of Pennsylvania.  Funding for this effort was provided by the William Penn Foundation.

Philadelphia Named America’s Most Bikable Large City

Philadelphia, December 21, 2012 – The website www.walkscore.com, in collaboration with researchers at Simon Fraser University and the University of British Columbia, announced this week that Philadelphia ranks as the ninth most bikeable city United States and the best city for biking with a population more than one million. The rankings are based on four factors: bike lanes; hills; destinations and road connectivity; and bike commuting mode share.

 

“I am pleased to see Philadelphia recognized as among the nation’s most bikable cities,” said Michael A. Nutter.  “The work of the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities to coordinate agencies across City government has led to major strides in making biking a safe and convenient option for traveling around Philadelphia,” Nutter continued.

 

More than two percent of Philadelphians bike to work according to the 2011 Census Bureau’s American Communities Survey, this is a full percentage point higher than the next American City with a population more than one million; Chicago.  The Census Bureau data also ranks Center City Philadelphia and South Philadelphia as among the top twenty five biking neighborhoods in the United States.

 

In the past five years the Mayor’s Office of Transportation and Utilities and Streets Department efforts have significantly expanded bike infrastructure in high demand and key employment areas including Center City, University City and around Temple University. In 2010, the City was awarded a $17.2 million US Department of Transportation TIGER Grant to fill critical gaps in the regions biking and walking trail network. By the end of 2013, nearly five and half miles will be added to the trail network knitting together a more that 50 mile network of cycling and walking trails, with a focus on the ability of the trails to be used for transportation.  By the end of 2014, the City expects to complete another five trail projects creating more than ten miles of new trail that leverage the existing network.

“We have been working hard for five years to make Philadelphia easier to get around, however you travel. The latest survey shows that our efforts are working. Perhaps most importantly, our streets and trails have never been safer for cycling, with bike commuting up by 150 percent since the year 2000 and the number of accidents involving cyclists down 50 percent,” said Deputy Mayor for Transportation and Utilities Rina Cutler.

ship in Energy and Environmental Design) standards, and it was a pilot site for a city-wide effort to employ more women and minority contractors in public projects.  Site-specific artwork was commissioned for inclusion in the PJJSC as part of the City’s ‘Percent for Art’ program.  Two Philadelphia-based painters were chosen to decorate the lobby, the community room and the second-floor waiting area.  A documentary by Greenhouse Media featuring the artists’ creative process will be displayed in the building.

 

 

More than 15 City departments, agencies and programs are affiliated with the PJJSC, and major tenants of the facility will include the Department of Human Services, the Juvenile Justice Division, Family Court, the School District of Philadelphia, the District Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender Association, and the Department of Public Property Facilities Division.

City Of Philadelphia Encourages Applications for Green Infrastructure Competition

Deadline Approaching for National Design Competition Highlighting Green Infrastructure $10,000 Top Prize for Innovative and Creative Designs for Philadelphia and Other Cities

November 16, 2012 – The Philadelphia Water Department, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Community Design Collaborative have partnered to launch a national, interdisciplinary design competition promoting the creative and innovative use of green stormwater infrastructure in Philadelphia and other cities. The design competition is part of Infill Philadelphia: Soak it Up!—a design initiative exploring how green stormwater infrastructure can revitalize urban neighborhoods.

Design teams must register by Friday, November 30, 2012.  Nine finalists will be selected to present at an awards event at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University next year. A jury will select one winning design for each of the three sites. The three winning competition teams will each receive a cash prize of $10,000.

Interdisciplinary teams of architects, landscape architects, engineers and other professionals will be challenged to develop new models for green stormwater infrastructure, focusing on one of three sites in Philadelphia:

  • Warehouse Watershed: A warehouse and a city-owned vacant lot that offer possibilities for public-private partnerships and the revitalization of a high-vacancy, mixed-use residential/industrial district.
  • Retail Retrofit: A retail strip center that has the potential to play a more central role in the surrounding neighborhood through improved walkability, pop-up space for community events and access to river recreation.
  • Greening the Grid: An historic neighborhood with an engaged community and a dense network of streets, alleys, roofs and open space that offers possibilities for an array of small-scale interventions.

Green stormwater infrastructure is crucial to the implementation of Green City, Clean Waters, the City’s innovative, environmentally-sustainable, 25-year plan to protect and enhance local waterways primarily through the use of green stormwater infrastructure. “As we evolve Philadelphia into America’s most sustainable and green city, the opportunities ahead will be limited only by the confines of our imaginations and the extent of our determination,” says Howard Neukrug, Commissioner of the Philadelphia Water Department.

“Our partnership with Philadelphia represents the EPA’s firm commitment to encourage, support, and assist municipalities that adopt green infrastructure to improve both water quality and the sustainability of their communities,” says EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin.

Beth Miller, Executive Director of the Community Design Collaborative, adds, “This design competition will get everyone thinking about the broader community benefits of green stormwater infrastructure. We look forward to seeing the results.”

A Competition Packet with full details about the competition is available online at http://infill.cdesignc.org.

Philadelphia City Planning Commission Establishes Civic Design Review Committee

Philadelphia, October 24, 2012 – The City of Philadelphia announced the establishment of the City’s first Civic Design Review Committee.  The seven-member  committee, mandated as part of the city’s new zoning code,  will advise the City Planning Commission as it reviews development projects that have a significant impact on public streets, sidewalks, trails, parks, and open spaces. The committee will consist of six standing members and one rotating member depending on the project’s location.

 

“Establishing the Civic Design Review Committee demonstrates our commitment to ensuring that development projects make the most positive impact possible on Philadelphia’s treasured public spaces, both downtown and in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter.

 

The committee intends to meet monthly, two weeks prior to scheduled City Planning Commission meetings, but only if projects are submitted for review that month and have been identified by the Department of Licenses and Inspections during the permitting process.  The meetings will be open to the public and advertized on the City Planning Commission’s website:  www.phila.gov/cityplanning.

 

According to the zoning code, projects to be reviewed by the committee are determined by such factors as use, size, height, location, and zoning.  For instance, any large nonindustrial project with more than 100,000 square feet of floor space or 100 dwelling units will qualify. Smaller projects also may require review, particularly if they are very different in proposed size from nearby properties.

 

Six members of the committee have been appointed by Mayor Nutter; under the zoning code, each of the six must have a specific set of professional credentials. Committee members include:

  • Nancy Rogo Trainer, principal at VSBA, LLC, architect, and member of the City Planning Commission since 2008;
  • Michael Johns, acting deputy executive director for operations at the Philadelphia Housing Authority and architect;
  • Anita Toby Lager, managing principal at LRSLAstudio and landscape architect;
  • Dan Garofalo, environmental sustainability coordinator and senior facilities planner at the University of Pennsylvania;
  • Anne Fadullon, director of real estate development and investment at the Dale Corporation; and
  • Cecil Baker, architect and long-standing Washington Square West Civic Association zoning committee member.

 

The seventh seat on the committee is rotating for each project, to be filled by a representative of a local registered community organization in the project’s area.  The new zoning code also established a formal registry of community organizations to help ensure involvement by communities in the development process.

 

Nancy Rogo Trainer, the committee’s City Planning Commission representative, will serve as chairman as stipulated in the code.  Gary J. Jastrzab, the City Planning Commission’s executive director, will advise the Civic Design Review Committee but is not a voting member.

Philadelphia Streets Department Recognized for Innovative Practices

Philadelphia, April 18, 2012 – The City of Philadelphia Streets Department has been recognized for “innovative community and government initiatives” by the Corbett Administration for the implementation of BigBelly Solar compacting litter baskets and recycling containers. The baskets have saved the City a million dollars in annual costs by reducing the trash collection rate per trash can from an average 17 times per week to 2.5 times per week. The award was part of the 16th Annual Governor’s Awards for Local Government Excellence, which were presented on April 17th, 2012.

“I commend the Streets Department on the installation of BigBelly Solar litter baskets, which have been both an economic and sustainable benefit to Philadelphia,” said Mayor Michael A. Nutter. “I congratulate Commissioner Clarena I.W. Tolson, Deputy Commissioner Carlton Williams and the rest of the department on this great recognition.”

Beginning in April of 2009, the Streets Department replaced litter baskets with nearly 900 BigBelly solar-powered compacting litter baskets and more than 400 public recycling containers. The new technology has allowed for a dramatic increase in collection efficiency. The recycling containers mark the first time that Philadelphia has on-street public recycling, keeping approximately 23.5 tons per month of recyclable materials out of the trash stream.

“The Streets Department is proud to be using this innovative technology and to embrace ideas like Big Belly, ideas that save money and natural resources,” said Streets Commissioner Clarena Tolson. “We would like to thank Governor Corbett and the Department of Community and Economic Development for recognizing our ongoing measures to support Mayor Nutter’s commitment to advancing recycling and sustainability. The use of Big Bellies allowed for the introduction of public space recycling to the City for the very first time. This is one more important step towards achieving the City’s sustainability goals.”

Since December 2009, the Streets Department has installed BigBelly units with recyclers outside of Center City. Most of these have been installed in 12 commercial corridors throughout Philadelphia. Funding for BigBelly Solar baskets has come from Pennsylvania’s Department of Community and Economic Development, the City of Philadelphia Commerce Department, Cleaning and Streetscape project grants and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-EECGB grants. # # #

Citizens Planning Institute Announces Philadelphia Zoning Code Training Series

Philadelphia, March 16, 2012 – The Citizens Planning Institute (CPI), the Philadelphia City Planning Commission’s educations program to engage citizens in the city planning process, will offer a Spring-Summer 2012 training series on the new Philadelphia zoning code, which was signed by Mayor Michael A. Nutter in December 2011. The classes, sponsored in partnership with the Department of Licenses and Inspections, the Philadelphia City Planning Commission, the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, and the Philadelphia Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, will provide citizens with the opportunity to learn more about the zoning code. Registration opens today, and the first classes will begin on April 24, 2012.

“The Citizens Planning Institute is a new way to educate Philadelphians about city planning,” said Mayor Nutter. “We set out to educate our citizens on development and zoning so they can share this information with their neighbors, friends and colleagues. Planning is about the future of our communities, our neighborhoods, our city, and I want to encourage residents to take advantage of this opportunity to learn more about how we can create a more livable, green and sustainable Philadelphia.”

The new zoning code includes changes to the City’s development regulations and approval procedures such as:

  • Making the zoning code more user-friendly;
  • Reducing number of zoning classifications;
  • Incorporating a civic design review process; and
  • Establishing the role of citizens in the zoning approval process.

To sign up, individuals can visit www.zoningmatters.com to participate in two core classes, the Comprehensive Overview of the Zoning Code and Administration & Procedure, as well as have the opportunity to sign up for three electives. The registration fee for the core classes is $160 and each elective class is $45. Currently also open for registration is the CPI Spring Citizen Planner course series. Registration for these classes ends on March 27, 2012.