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City-supported solar, highways pay for high speed rail, and bikes on bridges

Marc Lefkowitz  |  07/23/09 @ 8:46pm

A new Ohio law will make it easier for cities to support residents who want to produce their own green power. The law allows cities to expand the use of special improvement districts so that a homeowner can afford to make payments for solar electric or solar thermal units. Athens is the first city to take advantage of the state law, establishing a plan where an individual might pay for 60 percent of a system with federal grants and tax credits and the city pays the remaining 40 percent. If that system cost is $30,000, the homeowner will then repay Athens with $480 annual assessments over the next 25 years. Read more.

  • Ohio wants to use money collected from highway advertising to help pay for passenger rail service linking its major cities. Documents filed with the Federal Rail Administration show for the first time how Ohio would pay to operate Amtrak trains connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. The estimated $10 million would come from fees that restaurants, hotels and gas stations pay to advertise on blue highway exit signs. Gov. Ted Strickland is seeking as much as $400 million in federal stimulus money to launch passenger trains in 2011 that would travel up to 79 mph, laying the groundwork for a future high-speed network. Read more.
  • Walk + Roll is happening in two places in Cleveland this weekend. Scene Magazine covers the bike and family friendly events here.
  • Vancouver converts a bridge lane for cycling On the first weekend of a 3-month trial, a big turnout of cyclists led to no traffic snarls, surprising everyone. The fact that this attracted national media attention speaks volumes about how cool ideas get you positive press (and could even drive tourism). It also makes a similar proposal to convert one of the future 10 lanes of car traffic on the Cleveland Innerbelt bridges into a bike path seem not too farfetched.

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