Monday, September 15, 2014

Monday Linkages

It's been a while since I posted (at all), but fortunately that means plenty of good stuff to link to.  Such as...

You must read Mark Lamster in the DMN today.  This is not optional.
One of the more vexing problems with this scenario, as residents throughout the region are learning, is that they have too little franchise in this conversation. In The Power Broker, Robert Caro’s  magisterial examination of the life and career of New York planner Robert Moses, Caro painstakingly illustrates how Moses, the preeminent urban highway builder of his era, consolidated a bureaucratic empire with vast financial resources that remained virtually unaccountable to voters for decades. Dallas has its own Robert Moses, if on a somewhat reduced scale. Michael Morris has served as the Director of Transportation for the North Texas Council of Governments (NTCOG) since, if you can believe it, 1990. 
It is through Morris that many of the region’s transportation decisions are made. Because the board that oversees those decisions at NTCOG is comprised of representatives with divergent imperatives from across the region, it is a body particularly susceptible to arguments made from the “neutral” perspective of the traffic engineer. But decisions about where highways should go  (nevermind how to regulate services like Uber and Lyft) are neither neutral nor objective.

And relatedly, the latest published figure on the debt that the state of Texas has racked up chasing its own tail on the traffic problem where the solution has been little more than to make more drivers out of all of us is now $23 billion.  A few years ago that number was more like 15 to 18.  I hear that when deferred maintenance of existing roads is included, you can double that number.  You'd think we might want to build infrastructure that is not net negative in terms of tax base to the cost of the infrastructure for its life span.  That's about $1000 per person in Texas trying to fix the $400 per year that congestion costs us.  The real thief is car dependence.  It steals your freedom of choice (in travel mode and neighborhood type) as well as your money.

Salon writes that we have to make a choice:  the earth or more roads.  It's a bit hyperbolic and we shouldn't think about this in terms of roads or no roads.  It's the right kind of road design that yields productive livable places for all.

Similarly, Kaid Benfield writes that cities are the way to save nature, essentially from anti-city sprawl since, besides just the fact that cities are more compact and we're not building on nature, but also because cities perform better than sprawl on just about every environmental metric there is.

Looks like Chuck Marohn is up to some new and interesting stuff taking his fireside chats and producing short videos conveying the message.