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Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:38 PM

The U.S. pays a hefty toll, both socially and economically, for its road construction fetish


from In These Times:



Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need New Roads
The U.S. pays a hefty toll, both socially and economically, for its road construction fetish.

BY David Sirota


Interstate 70 in Colorado, one of the nation’s best-known arteries, is the latest thoroughfare to incite an archetypal fight. Running at capacity as it cuts through Denver, this gateway to the Rocky Mountains is about to be expanded over the objections of residents whose low-income neighborhoods will be sliced apart.

No doubt, the road will probably win–as roads almost always do in these battles. Indeed, the story of I-70 summarizes the 60-year tale of urban development in modern America: Instead of beefing up public transit, cities build neighborhood-destroying highways, cars fill up those highways, cities then build more highways to alleviate traffic, and then yet more cars flood the roads, creating even more traffic. Known as the “fundamental law of highway congestion,” this cycle perfectly embodies the “if you build it, cars will come” axiom confirmed in 2011 by researchers at the University of Toronto.

In the past, of course, road fetishists could claim that such catch-22’s aside, our nation is inherently reliant on cars, and that adding roads–any roads–is intrinsically worthwhile. This, in fact, is the assumption woven into the bipartisan federal stimulus bill and President Obama’s new budget, both of which target transportation dollars to building roads. Those new highways may not reduce congestion, energy consumption or pollution, but they will enrich an array of powerful interests, including automakers, fossil fuel companies, trucking firms and road contractors. And so they are repackaged as cure-alls by politicians in our money-dominated democracy.

But what happens when America suddenly tones down its love affair with the automobile? At that point, could we still justify destroying neighborhoods to make room for bigger roads? Could we still pretend that more roads are truly necessary? Could we still overlook the fact that road construction creates fewer jobs than public transit projects? In short, could we still ignore all the contradictions and problems that accompany our road fetish? .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/12993/where_were_going_we_dont_need_new_roads



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Reply The U.S. pays a hefty toll, both socially and economically, for its road construction fetish (Original post)
marmar Apr 2012 OP
Sherman A1 Apr 2012 #1
originalpckelly Apr 2012 #2
intheflow Apr 2012 #3

Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:48 PM

1. I recall the stories my Mom told me of I 70

cutting thru North St. Louis and destroying neighborhoods there as it was built.

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Response to marmar (Original post)

Fri Apr 6, 2012, 08:56 PM

2. Hey, maybe we can build a monorail...



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Response to marmar (Original post)

Sat Apr 7, 2012, 12:20 AM

3. Uh, Denver is aggressively building a public transit system.

Since 2004 our FasTracks program has built four light rail and commuter tracks and have another four to be built by 2020, plus they're instituting a Bus Rapid Transit system from Boulder. The I-70 expansion is at the behest of the State of Colorado's highway system mostly because that stretch of I-70 is crumbling and only expected to last another 10-15 years. (As someone who drives this every day on my commute, I can bear witness to the huge gaping potholes - I can see girders driving on some overpasses.) The neighborhoods to be impacted are largely industrial - the huge and smelly Purina Dog Food plant would have to be relocated, for example. Part of proposed expansion area is the mousetrap where I-25 and I-70 intersect. I am not disputing the veracity of the author's claims about how our love of highways is/has been short-sighted, but until that commuter rail comes up north to my neck of the woods, I have to err on the side of public safety and agree to the I-70 construction.

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