Interchanges as Civic Sculpture?
Did Phil Patton get off on the wrong ramp and miss the discussion over the past 20 or so years? Check out his article in the New York Times, "Graceful Interchanges, Now Doubling as Civic Sculpture", November 5, 2009.
He asserts that "Today’s highway intersections are not just landmarks but the modern equivalents of crossroads and town squares, meeting places that become geographical centers of reference." Meeting places? That would mean that people would actually meet there, right? I think that is called a traffic accident.
But Patton correctly observes that a lot of the stimulus funds are going to highway projects, many of which wouldn't have been funded otherwise. Hopefully the TIGER grants will select projects that add more to their communities. Trenton New Jersey applied to remove their limited-access highway, Route 29, from their waterfront and replace it with a surface boulevard. Hopefully we can find more examples like that among the mix.
As the demand for walkable neighborhoods grows, we have seen more and more examples of places investing in their local streets and transit. Just last week at the CNU Transportation Summit in Portland Oregon, we saw numerous examples of infrastructure investments -- whether in light rail and street cars, bike lanes and networks, or green streets -- where the money does actually create a meaningful place. We also discussed how the current transportation funding strategy continues to emphasize the very roads Patton highlights -- not because it is what we need but because of a historical bias. Read more about that discussion in Matthew Roth's piece for Streetsblog San Francisco, "At CNU, Former Rep of Texas Legislature says “No Road Pays for Itself”"
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