Not Just Fix It First

New highway construction has been destructive to US Metro areas inducing sprawl and degrading existing neighborhoods. So it's tempting to rally to the cause of "just fix it first" hoping that repair work will soak up the money that might otherwise end up in destructive freeway building.But I propose we take a more direct approach and "redesign first". New pavement cannot and should not be banished from the US transport program, but roads that do not add value should. Roads that are oversized and inappropriate for urban settings should be deprogrammed or if already built deconstructed.

Let's invest in avenues, boulevards and streets that serve not only as conduits, but as the setting for jobs, shopping and living. The new CNU/ITE CSS guide will be out soon and will give planners, traffic engineers and government officials alternatives to the ugly menu of mega roads that the Federal and state governments normally fund. Let's invest in street networks that when connected with transit can add tremendous value to our communities.

Check out CNU's Transportation Summit.


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Stimulus Funds Shouldn't Rebuild Freeways Without Futures

Discussions on how quickly many infrastructure projects could be started using Federal stimulus funds sounds like a great way to jump start the economy--but only if the projects themselves contribute to a number of our society's goals. Unfortunately, many of these projects on the docket don't meet even basic mobility or financial goals and shouldn't move forward.

Recently, we released the Freeways without Futures list, identifying the top-ten locations in North America where the opportunity is greatest to stimulate valuable revitalization by replacing aging urban highways with boulevards and other cost-saving urban alternatives. Many of these projects already have replacement plans waiting in the wings that would lead to massive expansions of urban highways. How do we make sure that the stimulus package doesn't include these, and others like them, in the list of projects?

Obama turns to Governors, and they respond

This article by NPR details how governors are eager to work with the federal government to improve their infrastructures. Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania talks at length about how his bridges are in trouble, and his elevated highways, too! We've got a great solution for you Mr. Rendell! Use this infrastructure funding to tear down those freeways! Now is the time! Urban revitalization, plus lower maintenance costs in the future! The best of both worlds!

How to share ideas

One of the challenges right now is to make sure that the criteria for "which projects gets funded" goes beyond just what's "shovel-ready" to include long-term sustainability as well. Right now, the rumors from DC sound like the worst possible outcome: that the state DOTs will just get showered with cash.

CNU members can share their vision of America with the Office of the President-Elect at this website:

What existing, quick-to-run screens can be applied to any list of projects to separate the good from the bad? The first ones that come to mind are CMAQ's screens (that use computer models to measure pounds of pollution prevented), but even those can encourage highways in many cases.


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