Too popular Cash for Clunkers suspended

Friday, July 31, 2009

From an article in the Wisconsin State Journal:

WASHINGTON — The government plans to suspend its popular "cash for clunkers" program amid concerns it could quickly use up the $1 billion in rebates for new car purchases, congressional officials said Thursday.

The Transportation Department called lawmakers’ offices to alert them to the decision to suspend the program at midnight Thursday. The program offers owners of old cars and trucks $3,500 or $4,500 toward a new, more fuel-efficient vehicle. . . .

A White House official said later that officials were assessing the situation facing the popular program but auto dealers and consumers should have confidence that transactions under the program that already have taken place would be honored. . . .

Congress last month approved the Car Allowance Rebate System program, known as CARS, to boost auto sales and remove some inefficient cars and trucks from the roads. The program kicked off July 24 and was heavily publicized by car companies and auto dealers.

Through late Wednesday, 22,782 vehicles had been purchased through the program and nearly $96 million had been spent. But dealers raised concerns about large backlogs in the processing of the deals in the government system, prompting the suspension.

City of Madison to start recycling vehicle batteries

Thursday, July 30, 2009

From a news release issued by the City of Madison:

The City of Madison will now accept vehicle batteries at its two self help drop off sites. The sites are located at 1501 W. Badger Rd and 4602 Sycamore Av. This service is limited to City of Madison residents, property owners, and businesses.

"Vehicle batteries, also called lead acid batteries, can be easily recycled and there is a strong market for them," Madison recycling coordinator George Dreckmann said. "Residents usually recycle these batteries at retailers when they buy a new battery. However, we have received numerous requests from people who want to another option for recycling and we are pleased to be able to accept them at our self help sites."

The City of Madison will accept batteries form cars, truck, motorcycles, scooters, boats, golf carts, and forklifts. Also accepted will be lead acid batteries that are used in computer systems, electrical back up systems, emergency lighting, and medical devices.

Additional information is available at the Streets Division's web site or by calling 267-2626.

Author promotes Slow Money

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

From an article by Susan Troller in The Capital Times:

A big new idea is a little like a seed; it needs fertile soil and a nurturing environment to flourish.

That’s why author, entrepreneur and venture capitalist Woody Tasch is in Madison, explaining and promoting his thoughts on Slow Money. It’s a bold perspective on financial investing focusing on getting local sources of money to support local businesses, especially those that have to do with the production of food.

Tasch, who has been part of a financial network that raised over $133 million since 1992 for about 200 ventures promoting sustainability, intends for Slow Money to become a national financial movement.

Judging by the enthusiastic response of a crowd of about 100 at Mills Hall on the University of Wisconsin campus Sunday evening, he may be onto something big.

Today Tasch is the featured speaker at a series of private workshops with food entrepreneurs, restaurateurs, financial experts, investors, policy directors and researchers.

“The current economic system is broken,” Tasch said flatly Sunday night. As evidence, he held up this week’s cover of The Economist, showing a textbook titled “Modern Economic Theory.” The book is melting.

“Money and investing must come back down to earth,” he added, as he argued for sustainability and responsibility in investing. Tasch believes this is an historic economic moment as we bump up against limits to growth.

What Tasch calls a restorative economy is at the heart of his new book, “Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms and Fertility Mattered.”

Madison architects advance to nationals in Green Building contest

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

From an article by Judy Lawrence in OnMilwaukee:

When the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), a national non-profit organization dedicated to sustainable building design and construction, hosts the finals of its annual Natural Talent Design Competition at the Greenbuild Conference in Phoenix in November, future leaders in the green building movement from around the country will be on hand to present their innovative, integrated design ideas implementing learned principles of sustainability and social consciousness.

Among them will be Madison-based Flad Architects. Flad recently took first place at the local level of the Natural Design Competition, hosted in Milwaukee by the Wisconsin Green Building Alliance and Walnut Way Conservation Corp., a resident-led, community development organization serving the neighborhood bound by North Avenue, 12th Street, Fond du Lac Avenue, Walnut Street and 20th Street.

Flad's five team members -- Cody Axness, Leigh Streit, Chitani Ndisale, Jeremy Braunschweig and Jon Rynish -- set out to create design solutions for the North Avenue corridor within the Walnut Way neighborhood according to LEED Green Building Rating System guidelines.

Each team was asked to consider an integrated design approach and address pedestrian safety, stormwater management and sustainable building practices on a 3.8-acre site that would include the following:

•Rehab of a three-story warehouse (36,000 square feet)
•Grocery store / co-op space (20,000-30,000 square feet)
•Restaurant (5,000 square feet)
•Educational and community gather space (24,000 square feet)
•Mixed use / residential space (30,000-40,0000 square feet)
•Community garden / open space (15,000-25,000 square feet)
•Pocket park / neighborhood playground (25,000-35,000 square feet)

Flad's design conquered the development in many facets, but primarily focused on "passive comfort," says Axness, Flad's landscape designer, who has degrees in both environmental design and landscape architecture. Passive comfort, he says, means using strategies that don't require energy to create comfortable interior environments, such as constructing buildings in ways that optimize solar gains in winter and natural ventilation in summer.

Flad tackled the ongoing city-wide issue of stormwater runoff by including cycling bio-filtration swales, constructed wetlands, rain gardens and green roofs.

"Our design approaches the issue of excess runoff as an opportunity to lessen the need for potable city water for non-potable purposes like irrigation and flushing toilets," Axness says.

Cash for Clunkers kicks off

Monday, July 27, 2009

From a news release issued by the U.S. Department of Transportation:

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today kicked off a buyer incentive program designed to help consumers purchase new fuel efficient vehicles and boost the economy at the same time. The Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS), commonly referred to as Cash for Clunkers, is a new federal program that gives buyers up to $4,500 towards a new, more environmentally-friendly vehicle when they trade-in their old gas guzzling cars or trucks.

“With this program, we are giving the auto industry a shot in the arm and struggling consumers can get rid of their gas-guzzlers and buy a more reliable, fuel-efficient vehicle,” Secretary LaHood said. “This is good news for our economy, the environment and consumers’ pocketbooks.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also released the final eligibility requirements to participate in the program. Under the CARS program, consumers receive a $3,500 or $4,500 discount from a car dealer when they trade in their old vehicle and purchase or lease a new, qualifying vehicle. In order to be eligible for the program, the trade-in passenger vehicle must: be manufactured less than 25 years before the date it is traded in; have a combined city/highway fuel economy of 18 miles per gallon or less; be in drivable condition; and be continuously insured and registered to the same owner for the full year before the trade-in. Transactions must be made between now and November 1, 2009 or until the money runs out.

The vehicle that is traded in will be scrapped. NHTSA estimates the program could take approximately 250,000 vehicles that are not fuel efficient off the road.

Hilldale enacts anti-idling rules

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

From an article by Deidre Green in The Capital Times:

Hilldale Shopping Center is the first mall in Wisconsin, and one of the first in the nation, with anti-idling rules for trucks.

Tim Metcalfe, co-owner of Metcalfe’s Sentry at Hilldale, heard about the amount of waste diesel trucks emit while idling, and decided to do something about it. He led a campaign to prevent idling trucks from spewing smog.

“Outside of Metcalfe’s Sentry alone, we had trucks idling for a combined 15 hours every day. By simply requiring them to turn off their gas, we’re basically preventing nearly 110,000 pounds of CO2 from entering the atmosphere yearly,” Metcalfe said in a press statement.

The group lobbying for restrictions on unnecessary idling is hosting a press conference at Metcalfe’s Sentry on Tuesday at 2 p.m. to report the amount of fuel the rule will conserve once it goes into effect.

RENEW testimony supports Excel conversion of generation plant to wood

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

From the direct testimony of Michael Vickerman on behalf of RENEW Wisconsin:

Q. What is the purpose of your testimony?
A. The purpose of my testimony is to communicate our organization’s support for the installation of a biomass gasification system that would produce biomass-derived synthetic gas (“syngas”) for serving Northern States Power’s Bay Front Unit #5.

Q. Why does RENEW support this particular application?
A. We note the following public policy objectives that would be advanced if the proposal submitted by Northern States Power Corporation (“NSPW”) were approved. These objectives include:
1) Meeting Wisconsin’s current Renewable Energy Standard;
2) Eliminating a source of coal-fired power from its system;
3) Using a locally available renewable energy resource;
4) Reducing carbon dioxide emissions and other gaseous pollutants;
5) Maintaining a strong generation source in northern Wisconsin; and
6) Investing Wisconsin capital in a renewable energy generating facility power plant within its borders.

Northeast Neighborhoods plan "deeply disappointing"

Monday, July 20, 2009

From a commentary by Michael Vickerman, member, City of Madison Sustainable Design and Energy Committee:

The Northeast Neighborhoods Plan is a deeply disappointing exercise in sustainable and forward-looking urban design. All of the rhetorical flourishes and modest gestures toward sustainability cannot disguise the essence of the plan, which is to continue the fundamentally unsustainable practice of reserving relatively undeveloped and distant parcels of land for future highly urbanized development that may or may not ever materialize. There is no immediate reason to absorb this parcel of land into greater Madison. Between the deteriorating conditions in the local commercial and residential real estate marketplace and the current excess of vacant land already zoned for development, it is doubtful that development pressure will return to boom levels any time soon, if ever at all. And, from a sustainability perspective, that is not a bad thing, considering how much land was consumed and pavement was created during the housing boom that ended in 2007. It’s worth adding that no amount of “green” add-ons--bike paths, electric vehicle charging stations, district heating systems or rooftop solar systems--can offset the environmental degradation that will arise from transforming a relatively undeveloped area with few roads into a full-blown city neighborhood.

Mpower Champions reduce carbon footprints

Friday, July 17, 2009

Watch Jessie Lerner's interview on WKOW TV about Mpowering Madison and the seven business champions that are adopting "green" practices, reducing their carbon footprint and improving energy efficiency at their facilities, including Sergenian's Floor Coverings. Jim Garner, CES of Sergenian's says, "All these little things that add up, all of a sudden your mind thinks differently than it used to think."

Dane County Board conservatives seek referendum on RTA

From an article by Matthew DeFour in the Wisconsin State Journal:

A group of conservative Dane County Board members are calling for a Regional Transportation Authority referendum during next spring’s County Board election, something county leaders have already ruled out.

County Board Chairman Scott McDonell and Executive Kathleen Falk have said they don’t anticipate a referendum until November 2010 at the earliest. McDonell expects the County Board to create an RTA, which would then develop a proposal to put before voters. Falk said the county needs a decision from the Federal Transit Administration on its rail application, which won’t happen by the spring.

“We don’t have a full transit plan developed,” McDonell said. “We would want to (hold a referendum) when we’re ready.”
But Sup. Eileen Bruskewitz, of Waunakee, said the referendum needs to happen before an RTA is created so the agency doesn’t have to use property taxes.

“Before we even go down that path, we need to decide if it’s a path we want to take a first step on,” Bruskewitz said.

From Prius to Superprius

Thursday, July 16, 2009

From an article by Karen Rivedal in the Wisconsin State Journal:

For the past 30 years, Trish Moran has been convinced the U.S. must face two big challenges related to energy and natural resources — make better batteries and figure out how to desalinate sea water on a large scale.

She hasn’t made much progress on un-salting the oceans. But the battery part is done.

“I finally put my money where my mouth is,” said Moran, a business owner from a suburb of Chicago, in an interview this week.

Late last month, Moran became one of the first people in the Midwest to get her Toyota Prius made super-fuel efficient with a new plug-in module installed by Smart Motors in Madison. The upgrade can boost the hybrid’s performance to around 100 miles per gallon, or about double what the gas-electric hybrid already does.

The conversion kit adds a second high-voltage battery that can be charged from any standard 120-volt outlet using an extension cord plugged into the back of the car. A full charge takes about five hours and provides 30 to 40 miles of all-electric driving capacity.

“That’s going to take care of most people’s work commutes,” Smart Motors hybrid sales specialist John Dolan said. “At night, they can just plug it in inside their garage and charge it up, and by morning you’re ready to go again.”

Court rules against local wind restrictions

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From the written decision of the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, District 2 in ruling against Calumet County's restrictive ordinances that blocked the Ecker Brothers from adding turbines to the one already on their farm:

To encourage the use of renewable sources of energy, the legislature resolved to remove legal impediments to such systems in four ways: (1) codifying the right of individuals to negotiate and establish renewable energy resource easements; (2) clarifying the authority of, and encouraging, political subdivisions to employ existing land use powers for protecting access rights to the wind and sun; (3) creating a procedure for issuing permits to owners and builders of active solar and wind energy systems; and (4) encouraging political subdivisions to grant special exceptions and variances for renewable energy resource systems. Numrich, 242 Wis. 2d 677, ¶18 (citing Laws of 1981, ch. 354, § 1(2)(b)). No. 2007AP210913

These strategies indicate that the legislature determined it appropriate to give political subdivisions the power to assist in the creation of renewable energy systems and thus become an integral and effective factor in the State’s renewable energy goal. But, this history does not indicate that the State intended to delegate the power of policymaking. Instead, the evidence is that the State delegated the authority to execute and administer its established policy of favoring wind energy systems, and the statutory scheme was intended to create avenues for political subdivisions to assist the State. If the County and other similarly situated localities believe that localities should be able to decide for themselves whether and to what extent wind systems are welcome in their geographical area, their argument is best made to the legislature.

Because the legislature did not delegate legislative powers to localities, the County cannot make findings of legislative fact. The County thus exceeded its authority under WIS. STAT. § 66.0401 when it created its wind energy ordinance. We therefore hold the ordinance to be [beyond the authority of the county].

We reverse and remand with directions that the circuit court reconsider the Ecker Brothers’ declaratory judgment action given that the ordinance is [beyond the authority of the county].

Which is more energy efficient a dishwasher or hand washing?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A question from AskFocusonEnergy:

Quesiton: Would I save more energy by replacing my old dishwasher or doing my dishes by hand?

Answer: Compared to washing dishes by hand, an ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher:
+ Can lower utility bills
+ Uses half as much energy
+ Saves nearly 5,000 gallons of water per year

ENERGY STAR qualified dishwashers:
+ Use 25% less energy than conventional models
+ Use less hot water, saving you $90 over their lifetime
+ Internal water heaters, which reduce water heating costs by 20%
+ Boost water temperatures to 140 degrees -- well above scalding temperatures. Washing dishes with hotter water allows for improved disinfection compared to washing by hand at much lower temperatures.
+ Run quieter than older models -- over 50% quieter than models produced 10 years ago!

Closing bus station leaves riders in the cold

Monday, July 13, 2009

A letter to the editor of The Capital Times by Mary Dally-Muenzmaier

Dear Editor: I am writing in response to the Madison City Council's unanimous vote of approval for the closing of the downtown bus depot in August without a satisfactory alternative site.

This decision is not only detrimental to Badger Bus and Greyhound passengers but an embarrassment to the city of Madison -- the place of my birth and upbringing.

The depot is a highly prized resource for me, as a weekly Badger Bus commuter, and my fellow riders. The realities of travel necessitate a brick and mortar building at which people can purchase tickets and receive shelter from the elements. Not everyone has the luxury of buying tickets online.

The city of Milwaukee -- which has been my happy home for 19 years -- has often been maligned for some of its decisions, but it still managed to build the downtown intermodal station, serving Amtrak, Greyhound and the occasional Badger Bus passenger, and neither the original train station nor the bus station closed until it was completed. This modern, sleekly designed hub is now the first impression mass transit travelers have of Milwaukee.

It is clear that through this decision both Badger Bus and the City Council have abandoned the working poor, regular commuters and those of us who opt to use mass transportation. With the proposal to utilize the Mobil station across the street, we have literally been left out in the cold, rain, snow, sleet, and burning sun.

Mary Dally-Muenzmaier

Put RTA tax to binding vote in Madison area

Friday, July 10, 2009

From an editorial in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Voters should have the final say on whether to add a half-cent to the local sales tax to fund mass transit improvements in the metro Madison area.
Consequently, city and county officials should follow through on their pledge to put any future transit tax proposal to a public vote in a binding referendum.
Voters should hold them to that promise. Furthermore, all future officials should be held to the same standard.

The degree of control voters will have over a transportation tax was thrown into doubt by one of Gov. Jim Doyle’s state budget vetoes. Doyle struck a provision guaranteeing that no transit tax would be imposed unless voters approved in a referendum that would be binding on officials.
The veto made the referendum optional. That means officials could impose the half-cent tax without voter support.

Prospects for a veto override are virtually nil.

Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk, County Board Chairman Scott McDonnell and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz have promised that Madison area voters will get to decide the fate of a transit tax in a binding referendum.

That’s the right approach. If regional transportation is to succeed, the public, which will pay the tax and benefit from the improvements, must be on board.
Doyle was wrong to veto the binding referendum. The measure was included in a state budget provision allowing the Madison metro area to create a regional transit authority with the power to impose a half-cent sales tax.

The tax could be used to fund bus improvements and, potentially, a commuter rail line.

The tax should have been available to fund road improvements, too. But Doyle vetoed the road provision, shrinking a transportation measure down to a transit-only measure.

Just how close is Dane County to getting commuter rail?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

From an article by Kristin Czubkowski in The Capital Times:

Transport 2020 project manager David Trowbridge needs the fingers on both hands to count all of the mass transit and rail studies completed in Dane County in the past 30 years. Like clockwork, a study seemed to crop up every few years, with paperwork accelerating in the late 1990s as Trowbridge's work on the Transport 2020 project began.

On June 29, however, the Madison area saw arguably the biggest single step toward getting a regional transit system when Gov. Jim Doyle signed a state budget that included approval for Dane County to form a regional transit authority (RTA). It would have taxing authority within federally set boundaries, and discussion so far has centered around the idea of the RTA enacting a half-cent sales tax that would raise some $38 million annually. The commuter rail line is separate from a potential high-speed rail line connecting Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison and the Twin Cities that is currently part of a multi-state application for federal stimulus funds.

But while Dane County leaders say there are still many details to figure out about what an RTA would fund before putting a referendum before area voters, critics say that the RTA has always been about trains and that they will be gearing up opposition accordingly.

One of the chief critics of an RTA has been Dane County Board Supervisor Eileen Bruskewitz, who represents the Waunakee area. She says transportation discussions have focused much too heavily on a commuter rail line running from Middleton through Madison to the town of Burke, which has an estimated price tag of $250 million, plus $10 million in annual operating costs.

Council okays bus station demolition, orders study

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

From an article by Chris Rickert in the Wisconsin State Journal:

Downtown’s Badger Bus depot will close at the end of August to make way for 82 apartments and 11,500 square feet of retail space after the City Council unanimously approved the redevelopment plan Tuesday night.

Although the project, consisting of three buildings and an underground parking garage set on a one-acre lot, will be a dramatic change from what’s at 2 S. Bedford St. now, most of the discussion during the two-hour public hearing Tuesday centered on how the demise of the depot fit into the broader need for a transportation center for buses and possibly trains.

Susan De Vos, of Madison Area Bus Advocates, was among several people who urged the council not to OK the redevelopment plan until the city had identified a site for a future transit hub. She suggested the depot’s current location might be a good fit.

"The depot could well become part of a new Downtown multimodal terminal," she said. . . .

Still unclear is where Greyhound — which also uses the Bedford Street depot — will make its stops. The Meiers and Ray Harmon of the mayor’s office said the company is considering Dutch Mill and the Metro Bus East Transfer Point as alternatives.

Alderman Mike Verveer, whose 4th District includes the depot, said the apartment project has been under review since last year and that the neighborhood is strongly in support of it.

"The only issue — and I admit it’s a big one — is the future of inner city bus service" and a future transit terminal, he said.

He also pointed out that the city attorney had said it would be inappropriate for the council to make approval of the depot redevelopment contingent on finding a location for a new terminal.

The council did agree to an amendment to the plan that requires the mayor’s office and city staff to report back to the council in 60 days with details on where Greyhound and other bus providers will be picking up and dropping off passengers after the demise of the Badger depot.

Electric scooters, motorcycles can qualify for tax credit

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

From an Associated Press article Daisy Nguyen on Mother Nature News:

Sales of motorcycles and scooters shifted into high gear last year when gas prices soared. Then recession-wary consumers hit the brakes. Now, like so many other industries, the makers of two-wheeled, fuel-efficient bikes are relying on tax breaks offered in the federal stimulus package and other incentives to get sales moving again, while easing gas consumption.

"Even before we quote the price, we tell people how much they can get off the bike," said Jeff Bosco Biafore, a salesman at the San Jose Motorsport Scooter Center in Northern California.

Under the stimulus plan, the same provision that lets taxpayers deduct sales and excise taxes on the purchase of a new car or truck also applies to a motorcycle or scooter. They also can get a 10 percent federal tax credit if they buy plug-in bikes.

Read the federal law on page 217 of the stimulus bill.

City officials disinterested in bus station closure

Monday, July 06, 2009

Knuti and Voss question whether the Memorial Union should become the de facto bus station when it may not be equiped to handle the number of people and buses that use the Badger Bus Station.

A letter sent to various alders by David Knuti and Susan Vos:

We are contacting you on behalf of the Madison Peak Oil Group and Madison Area Bus Advocates in your capacity as District 8 Alder serving the UW campus area. You have a special role in the review of the proposed redevelopment of the Badger Bus Station coming before the Council this Tuesday, because of its strong direct impact of this action on your district.

In effect, the closure of the Badger Station makes Langdon Street by the Union the de facto bus terminal of Madison—a role for which it is ill suited—and weakens intercity bus service for the public in general, including students and the disabled in particular. The narrow approach to the review of this project has focused all attention on 4th Ward issues at Washington and Bedford, whose traffic impact will be reduced by the project and supposed legal restrictions on considering the broader public interest.

Since the real estate aspect of this plan has passed the City Planning Commission, and has aroused little interest on the Long Range Transportation Planning Commission, its approval by the Council may be expected. We are asking your support for a strong condition on demolition of the station that will require a City supervised plan for the consequent relocation of intercity bus service. At the request of our organizations, David Knuti has prepared an article for the Sustainable Times which presents our findings and recommendations after five months of meetings.

What should be done?
If the Council is prepared to accept the Badger Company's project as a legal and acceptable real estate venture, it should also regard the associated transportation issues as vital unfinished business. Two kinds of measures are needed: first, adopting clear and firm conditions for bus station demotion, and, second, creating a structure for the City to assert controls and coordinate planning of subsequent intercity buses services:

+ The City should not permit demolition until financing is clearly and firmly in place—an issue which should not be taken for granted given the surplus of downtown apartments and empty commercial space, and the widely anticipated national crisis in commercial real estate finance.

+ The Council should further condition demolition on the Badger Company’s acceptance of an acceptable plan for intercity bus arrivals and departures with provision for all major stake holders including Van Galder, Greyhound, charter bus operators, and State bus planners. The formulation of the plan should be led by City Traffic and Planning staff with the participation of UW’s Union and transportation authorities.

+ The Mayor and Council should adopt a policy statement officially recognizing the City's role in fostering and regulating intercity bus service, and assigning execution to planning and traffic control units and policy oversight to appropriate city commissions.

+ The Mayor and Council should review the city’s parking and traffic control powers to regulate and channel bus arrival and departure activities in the public interest and prepare to use these powers to influence a proper implementation of the above plan.

+ If necessary, the City should enact such additional controls as needed to control on-street bus boarding and arrivals, and to channel such bus traffic through appropriate terminal points with appropriate fees that share the burden of their operation.

Tuesday's Council review is a last opportunity for the City to retain some leverage over the intercity bus issue and avoid future problems. Although the legality is not iron clad, the attached article outlines ample public purpose for a delay and the assumption of city responsibility. Badger may find it uncomfortable to legally challenge the need to ameliorate the effects of its unilateral action. While more work and leadership would be required of of reluctant City staff and officials, this an era of new priorities.

We urge your consideration for this matter before Tuesday's vote and thank you for your willingness to discuss it.

David Knuti, Madison Peak Oil Group,
Susan De Vos, Madison Area Bus Advocates,

Is Madison making the right choices on transit?

Friday, July 03, 2009

From a commentary by Tim Wong published in The Isthmus:

The city of Madison currently faces three separate but related decisions on transportation, each with long-ranging consequences.

These issues are: 1) the need for a downtown multi-modal transit facility; 2) the location of the high-speed rail terminal; and 3) the composition and goals of the Regional Transit Authority (RTA).

At its July 7 meeting, the Madison city council will vote on a proposal to demolish the Badger Bus depot on the corner of West Washington and South Bedford and replace it with mixed-use retail and luxury apartments. The proposal has cleared all its committee hurdles, including the Plan Commission, and now comes to the council for a final vote.

There may be little the city can do to stop this redevelopment, but city leaders seem oddly unconcerned about losing this last remaining intercity bus terminal.

Madison's Platinum Biking Plan

Thursday, July 02, 2009

From the City of Madison's Web site:

In the fall of 2006 Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz formed the Platinum Biking City Planning Committee with the overall goals of

1) achieving the Platinum designation level through the League of American Bicyclists Bicycle Friendly Communities program, and

2) putting forward a roadmap - or bike path - for Madison to become the best city in the country for bicycling.

The Committee's report was adopted by the Common Council on April 8, 2008.

From the report:

A. Vision Statement
Make bicycling an integral part of daily life in Madison, thereby making Madison a model for health promotion, environmental sustainability, and quality of life.

B. Goals

  • Madison will ensure a safe and well planned bicycle friendly transportation network that allows connections to all destinations. The network will include bikeways, off-street paths, on-street marked lanes and low volume/low speed local roads, adequate bike parking, and adequate links to public transit. The network will be accessible to riders of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities.
  • Madison will promote a bicycling culture that supports experienced riders and brings new riders safely and comfortably into cycling.
  • Madison educational institutions, businesses, health care providers, and government will actively support bicycling as a transportation choice.
  • Madison will build social capital by encouraging bicycling as a social norm for all of Madison’s diverse population.
  • Madison will facilitate a mutual respect among drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians by promoting knowledge, acceptance, and consistent enforcement of traffic laws.
  • Madison will collaborate with surrounding municipalities, Dane County, and colleges and universities to develop complementary bicycle transportation plans and a seamless network of bikeways in the Madison area.
  • Madison will take advantage of the unique resources in our area (UW-Madison and other educational institutions, bicycle industry, other businesses and nonprofit organizations) to engage in public-private partnerships to develop innovative bicycle facilities, educational programs, outreach efforts, and funding mechanisms.
  • Madison’s bicycle plans will be incorporated into other city plans (such as transportation plans, land use plans, neighborhood plans, the Comprehensive Plan, Climate Protection Plan, etc.) to promote bicycle use as part of a multimodal, environmentally-friendly urban transportation network designed to benefit all citizens of the Madison metropolitan area (including persons unable to walk or ride, and in cases when bicycling is not feasible).
  • Madison will create an on-going mechanism for cooperation and cross fertilization on bicycling issues across city department disciplines including Traffic Engineering, Engineering, Public Works, Police, Health, Parks, Madison Metro, and Planning.
  • Madison will increase its bicycle mode share (the percent of the traveling public that uses a bicycle for transportation).

Sauk, Rock, and Elkhorn utilities join Focus on Energy

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Focus on Energy, Wisconsin's energy efficiency and renewable energy initiative, announced today [July 1] that Sauk City Utilities, Rock Energy Cooperative, and Elkhorn Light & Water became a program member beginning July 1, 2009.

Utility participation allows utility customers to take advantage of Focus on Energy's Business, Residential and Renewable Energy offerings under the Focus on Energy umbrella. The benefits of participating include:

+ Business Programs that help manufacturers, commercial businesses, farmers, schools and local governments reduce operating costs, increase their bottom line and improve productivity and employee and customer comfort. The programs offer technical expertise, training and financial incentives to help implement innovative energy management projects.
+ Wisconsin ENERGY STAR® Homes, Home Performance with ENERGY STAR and Apartment & Condo Efficiency Services Programs that encompass new and existing homes, multi-family construction and remodeling projects for all types of residential dwellings. These programs help homeowners and landlords integrate energy improvements into their remodeling projects, as well as deliver newly-built homes, apartments and condominiums that are comfortable, safe, durable and energy efficient.
+ Lighting and appliance programs that increase the availability of ENERGY STAR qualified products ranging from compact fluorescent light bulbs to heating and cooling equipment. These efforts deliver lower energy bills for residents and businesses and increased sales for retailers and contractors.
+ Renewable Energy Programs that help residents and businesses harness energy from sunlight, wind and organic materials.
+ Targeted Home Performance that reduces energy bills while increasing comfort and safety for income-qualified participants.