Monday, April 4, 2011

I Hate Timidity Almost as Much as I Hate Incompetence

...almost as much as I hate Unprincipled Whorishness (sic).

The Observer has a quick synopsis of some items from the recently publicized Downtown Dallas 360 plan.

I picked out some comments both in the actual report and in the reactions to the report.

First, on the highway loop:
"Freeway Loop
While a definite asset from a regional mobility, connectivity and business competitiveness standpoint, the freeway loop that has come to define Downtown Dallas."
Wrong, wrong, wrong. Why must every planner tip-toe around this issue as if the wrath of God might smite them? Improving "regional connectivity" from Mesquite to Arlington or so Plano can siphon tax base from Dallas isn't improved connectivity nor competitive for business. It impoverishes the City of Dallas and to sacrifice local connectivity for regional connectivity is exactly how you built a ghost town. This is exactly the reason downtown Dallas needs a "downtown plan" because the inner freeway loop flipped the equation so that it was more advantageous to live further from the city center than closer. Hardly competitive economically, especially when you have a broke city and a broke state sitting on their biggest asset, the land underneath all of those freeways.

Here is a history lesson as well as one into the past, present, and future economics of freeways. The Eisenhower interstate system was built to connect regional economies, it was necessary, and did a good job. Then we fell too in love to give up the Keynesian Federal spending and began building freeways internal to cities, which Ike opposed vehemently (and correctly). They interrupted the local connections that provide the foundation of all working, functional, resilient cities. We started building freeways as a form of economic development. Build freeway = Get development.

Now, we're stuck with the freeways that cost more to maintain than tear down. And there is no more development or investment to leverage by maintaining them. Guess we're just stuck with an infinite cycle of taxing and spending just to maintain the status quo OF DISINVESTMENT(!), making it more advantageous of citizens, businesses, and tax base to go to the 'burbs.

I suppose this is what happens when we are unable to be honest with ourselves. And on the tunnels and OMG it gets so hot in Dallas "those 20 days of the year":

Even in 100 degree days, the public streets and spaces wouldn't be so harsh if they were designed for the climate. Instead, we run from the problem and end up with large swaths of concrete, with no shade, and reflective glass buildings turning ambient temps up on the sidewalk.

On a hundred degree day, go sit in AT&T plaza (downtown amongst the AT&T buildings, not the one in Victory) and take the temperature. Then go to Main Street Gardens and take the temperature. My point isn't to disparage MSG in this context (because we need some open, usable lawn space in downtown), but to demonstrate a space that is designed to be cool and pleasant in the summer. AT&T plaza has shade, breeze, and bubbling fountains and even in the hottest of days, it is very comfortable.

And because "ppl use the tunnels b/c OMG so hot lulz:"

No they don't. They use the tunnels because there is no place else to go. The tunnels are equally as disgusting as how hot the parking lots of downtown Dallas are, when factoring in the amount of greasy air trapped below the surface.