More on Spatial Thinking

Sunday, February 3rd, 2008

Neal Peirce has another interesting piece in the Courant on transit policy issues.

He writes:

After two years of intense work, a broad-based, bipartisan federal transportation commission mandated by Congress unveiled America’s first-ever 50-year balanced plan to repair and expand the highways, bridges, ports and rail systems the country needs to prosper internally and globally.

But because the report, presented to Congress this month, pointed mostly to public funding instead of responding directly to “consumer demand” (meaning private financing), Secretary of Transportation Mary Peters and the two other Bush administration appointees dissented, bemoaning the 12-member panel’s failure to “reach consensus.”

As has been typical, and Peirce is quick to point this out, Bush admin reasons for dissent are never “verifiable” or logical. He offers this:

An industry analyst quoted by the National Corridors Initiative called their “consensus” remark “frankly pathetic,” noting that “a very bipartisan commission … has called for a major overhaul of the transportation system, and for the money to do the job.”

Roads are a critical element of spatial politics. For example, the roads in my town, Simsbury, are an odd mix. They are single lane, clogged, but manageable. However, if I was going to “improve” he Route 10 corridor which links the several towns about, I’d figure out some way of making Route 10 a fitted and multi-use object that people can use in more ways than just point to point driving. The roads in Simsbury are limited to this use.

From this one premise, what happens along the road can therefore be discoverable. The premise should not be: let’s get more retail on R10. No, let’s diversify the road use with interesting designs. Say goodbye to yellow center lines and hello to imagination.


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