Monday, December 22, 2008

LaHood to be Transpo Secretary

A lovely waste of real estate:

I've been following who this appointment might be with considerably greater interest than many of the other cabinet positions, as posted here and my thoughts on how Texas should be appropriating federal transportation dollars here.

While initially, one might convulse over the thought of a Republican in this position given many of their ties to lobbyists of the road building/sprawl industry (though it clearly poisons both sides of the aisle), I am cautiously optimistic about this appointment.

The legacy of the 20th century.

I have been a long proponent of thinking about transportation more holistically, meaning 1) beyond just cars (mistake numero uno) and 2) building roads/transportation networks as investment tools with the pertinent question being "what kind of return on investment are we getting as taxpayers?"

As I've mentioned a million times, development (of all shapes and sizes) is always, ALWAYS reactive to the primary means of transportation to access the site. Big, ugly roads (remember: Freeways = Farts in Elevators) get equally as obnoxious treatments to buildings to defend the buildings from the visual and sound pollution (not to mention air) of choked arterials. Buildings get set far back, one to get away from the roads, and two, to accommodate the convenient surface parking lot. Then, billboards, buildings, signage, parking lots, service docks, everything is scaled up to the size of cars, as if we're merely the brains and our tin cans are our new bodies.

When we bump into each other on the street, we say sorry. When we do it in our cars, people are maimed at an alarming rate.

With LaHood's reputation as a practical pragmatist, I will take a wait and see approach (shouldn't alert vigilance be taken with all elected officials?). But, call me crazy, if I think it's prudent to take a fiscal conservative that has been one of the few sane representatives of the last 14 years of Republican leadership in the house, that might actually understand that good roads (complete streets) and more balanced transportation policies (read: efficient, appropriately scaled mass transit) is a good long-term investment that increases property values intelligently and allows for more sustainable, compact development.

With a fiscal conservative (and one that gets a 0% rating from those corrupt d'bags at Club for Growth which I rate as a badge of honor), maybe we'll stop the immensely wasteful spending on highway construction across this country. Please, let it be so. I don't know how much more tax burden I can handle over the next fifty years of my life.

The most sustainable thing we can do is build aesthetically, beautifully which begs the question, "in which kind of world do we want to live?"


or this?


or this?

[edit: It should be noted that many feel Rep. Oberstar from MN as chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee actually has more power than the Secretary of Transpo. Today, he is suggesting a substantive increase in overall proportional spending on mass transit from 25% of that of highways to 40%.]