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1256 <p>Many millennials and other young people walking through Somerville’s vibrant squares and neighborhoods would be surprised to know what it was like in the 1960’s and 70’s.<br></p> <p></p> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/139261813@N06/34573998271/in/dateposted-public/"><img width="100" alt="Print" src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4187/34573998271_095793630f_t.jpg" height="48"></a> <p><b>Powered by JM Electrical Company, Inc.</b></p><p><br></p><p>Many millennials and other young people walking through Somerville’s vibrant squares and neighborhoods would be surprised to know what it was like in the 1960’s and 70’s. Boarded up store windows. Dangerous crime levels. Houses in decay. Middle class flight to the suburbs. A city on a downward spiral.<br></p><p></p><p>Today, Somerville is one of the hottest restaurant, nightlife and real estate markets in the state – the envy of many cities around the state.</p><p></p><p>What happened? While many factors came into play (Cambridge residents getting priced out of the market; an overall shift to urban centers; improved city government and services), nearly everyone acknowledges the key: the arrival of the Red Line in Davis Square.</p><p></p><p>When Somerville was added to the region’s mass transit system, making downtown Boston a short 15 minute subway ride away, the city began to bloom. And today, the Davis Square area is in full flower.</p><p></p><p>Infrastructure spending is the key to economic development here and across the country. When we invest in our roads and bridges, our trains and subways, we see development money unleashed, which in turn leads to growth in jobs, housing and population. And the need for improvement in our country’s infrastructure is an issue that has long been debated in Congress — truthfully, it may be one of the few current political topics with bipartisan agreement.</p><p></p><p>In fact, recent reports out of Washington suggest the Trump administration may produce an infrastructure bill soon, in order to gain a victory on an issue both Democrats and Republicans can agree on.</p><p></p><p>Both the President and the Democrats agree the dollar figure for this investment is at least a trillion dollars. That’s a steep price, but it’s a small price to pay to fix our roads, bridges, water systems and other infrastructure, while creating jobs and stimulating the economy.</p><p></p><p><b>Where will the funding come from?</b></p><p></p><p>Because President Trump is adamant about steering clear of taxpayer dollars, his solution is to fund these infrastructure projects through a mixture of public and private capital. Nevertheless, he would rely most heavily on private-sector investments — and these investments would be incentivized through tax cuts that can later be used to earn these companies money; for example, charging a toll for a repaired bridge or road.</p><p></p><p>Democrats, however, resist privatization of public infrastructure and favor mostly public spending. On the one hand, it could be a big victory for bipartisan success. On the other hand, it could get bogged down in partisan disagreements about how to pay for it. We’ll know more in the coming weeks.</p><p></p><p><b>Effects from the local perspective</b></p><p></p><p>Few states need infrastructure infusions as much as Massachusetts. <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="https://www.transportation.gov/policy-initiatives/grow-america/road-and-bridge-data-state">Forty-two</a>&nbsp;percent of our roads are in poor condition. On top of that, <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.artba.org/deficient-bridge-report-home/">483 of our total 5,171 bridges</a>&nbsp;are considered structurally deficient. And major expansion projects hang in the balance.</p><p></p><p><a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="https://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2017/04/04/feds-green-line-extension-costs-securing-project-future/6Nsiskpk14qQO43vBl9H1I/story.html">Upon recent approval</a>, Somerville and Medford’s Green Line Extension, which will help revitalize Union Square and other parts of the two cities, now has its $2.3 billion funding intact – even without a huge infrastructure bill.</p><p></p><p>However, other transportation projects are not as fortunate. For example, South Coast Rail, an extension that could bring a commuter rail to New Bedford and Fall River, might not be so lucky. Amtrak receives a substantial amount of federal funding, which Trump has proposed severe cuts to. Such would affect all of Amtrak’s long-distance train lines, in turn affecting the 500 communities served by the transit agency.</p><p></p><p>Additionally, the North-South Rail Link, which would connect North and South stations, would most likely need federal funding to become a reality. Just to conduct a study on the rail link and its cost and benefit to riders, will cost up to $2 million.</p><p></p><p>Few states could use infrastructure spending more than Massachusetts, a state that relies to a great degree on 19th century subway system and early 20th century roads and bridges. Let’s hope the President and members of both parties in Congress can finally come together and agree on one important issue. If they can, revitalizations like the one that occurred in Somerville can spring up across the state.</p><br><p></p> Trump Budget Proposal: What it Means for Development Projects in 2017 Show Edit Destroy
1256 <p>Recently, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that it had concluded public hearings on a proposed new edition of the state building code.<br></p> <p></p> <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://jmelectrical.com/"><img width="100" alt="Print" src="https://c1.staticflickr.com/5/4187/34573998271_095793630f_t.jpg" height="48"></a> <p><b>Powered by JM Electrical Company, Inc.</b></p><p><br></p><p>Recently, the state Department of Public Safety (DPS) announced that it had concluded public hearings on a proposed new edition of the state building code. Over the past several weeks, residents and local professionals from across the state weighed in on proposed changes, creating the ground rules for developers, homeowners, architects and property managers to abide for the foreseeable future. And now, the feedback from hearings and over 200 pages of public amendments has been reviewed by the Board of Building Regulations and Standards (BBRS). Once filed with the Secretary of State, projects will be expected to comply with the ninth edition code effective January 2, 2018.</p> <p>While the new building code may not generate big headlines, updating the code is a critical public service, and essential to any community’s growth and development. Almost always, these updates are intended to improve standards for important issues such as the structural integrity of buildings, the quality of water systems, and the required levels of energy conservation. For anyone working or living in Massachusetts, a build code has quiet imprints on our quality of life.</p> <p>Building codes also offer a unique perspective regarding a region’s development. One glance at the skyline underscores the obvious: the Boston development community is in the midst of one of its' largest building booms. From examples like Fenway’s Pierce Boston to the upcoming General Electric headquarters at Innovation Point, the latest iteration of the state building code aims to sustain the current growth, while ensuring safety will continue to be prioritized. &nbsp;</p> <p>Today, the International Building Code (IBC) is in use or adopted in all 50 states, setting basic guidelines to protect buildings, people and property from fire, storms, earthquakes, and other natural disasters. Nevertheless, most states produce their own codes to complement the IBC. And, generally, the ninth edition reflects a consensus that – increasingly – there are fewer occasions to supplement the IBC. Still, there are a few pending examples where the latest local code updates should make life easier for developers and Massachusetts construction industry.</p> <p>Coastal A zones are areas designated as special flood hazards. &nbsp;The Seaport – with its close proximity to the Boston waterfront – is an example. Previously, the higher likelihood of wind and storm activity limited the options for development in Coastal A zones. The updated code reassesses that, tapering the code’s previous caution and making it more palpable for development.</p> <p>The new state code will now also reflect the IBC’s cues on podium construction, as well as tall wood structures. Podium construction—or pedestal/platform construction—refers to multiple levels of light-frame construction over a level of fire resistant base. (Think of parking garages or retail.) In Massachusetts the current code is based on an older version of IBC and does not allow two story podiums. Recent changes in the IBC code allow six and seven story structures to be constructed in wood, as opposed to strictly concrete.</p> <p>Likewise, recent advancements in fire prevention and technology have enabled heavy timber to be used over steel and concrete frames, a welcome change for builders who often favor wood because it is lighter, stronger, and less expensive. &nbsp;The Massachusetts building code will now follow the guidelines set in the 2015 edition of the IBC, to maximize the number of stories, and – hopefully - lower construction costs.</p> <p>Boston’s recent building surge is unique for several reasons, including the growing, statewide emphasis on sustainability. The adoption of the state’s “stretch energy code in 2009, for instance, helped set the bar for large commercial buildings applying for LEED energy certification. The results are clear, in part leading to the current emphasis on energy efficiency in major urban projects. Last year, Massachusetts was named the <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.mass.gov/eea/pr-2016/massachusetts-named-most-energy-efficient-state.html">most energy efficient state</a> in the nation for the sixth consecutive year, and during this time the state had <a target="_blank" rel="nofollow" href="http://www.bizjournals.com/boston/news/2017/01/25/every-massachusetts-building-that-was-leed.html">136 properties</a> spanning 24.4 million square feet that were LEED certified, including the recently completed Serenity Apartments overlooking Olmsted Park. With an updated building code, Boston should anticipate higher standards for sustainability.</p> <p>BBRS members have now convened inside One Ashburton Place in downtown Boston to approve final contents of the state’s building code. With a new code now firmly in place for 2018 and beyond, it should provide a helpful set of guidelines that promoter innovation and growth in our state without losing sight of the need to promote public safety.</p><p></p> Massachusetts Building Code Updates' Impact on Local Development Show Edit Destroy

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