Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Bridge walks (and similar events) as a way to highlight the need for infrastructure investing?

Most people don't think about what we might call the new lost decade, although this time the loss is over the failure to invest in infrastructure--bridges, local transit, railroads, sustainable mobility--when interest rates have been so low and when so much of the country's transportation infrastructure is showing its age and needs to be repaired and/or replaced.

-- Report Card for America's Infrastructure, American Society of Civil Engineers
-- Bridge Inventory, Better Roads Magazine
-- "States, Localities Are Failing to Seize Their Infrastructure Moment," Governing Magazine

For almost 60 years, there has been an annual pedestrian walk across the Mackinac Bridge which links Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas, as shown in this Associated Press photo. It's the only time each year that pedestrians are allowed on bridges.
Mackinac Bridge walk, September 1, 2014
Walkers cross the five-mile-long Mackinac Bridge during the Labor Day walk, Monday, Sept. 1, 2014, during the 57th annual event in Mackinaw City, Mich. Lead by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, thousands cross from the upper peninsula of Michigan to the lower peninsula, the only day pedestrians are allowed on the span. (AP Photo/John L. Russell)

These kinds of events are opportunities to push infrastructure issues higher up on the policy agenda, to leverage the publicity associated with them, and to educate the participants on the issues.

Although many states, including Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Michigan, have been addressing transportation infrastructure needs in the past couple years by introducing new financing plans and priorities--although I argue that many of the funding streams for the programs have been poorly chosen, using general funding sources instead of increasing fuel taxes.

Even so most of these programs aren't balanced, favoring roads and motor vehicle traffic over other modes.  For example, Pennsylvania bicycle advocates are "ecstatic" at having a seat at the table, because bicycling infrastructure investment commitments were built into their plan.  However, the amount of money actually committed ($2,5 million) is one-one thousandth of the total financing plan of $2.5 billion.

Although we must note that Pennsylvania does spend much more than that annually on bicycle and pedestrian projects.

ASCE graphic.

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At 8:41 AM, Anonymous charlie said...

You also, on foot, get to see how badly these bridges and structures are maintained.

Painting them once every 20 years and hoping that works seems to be the standard.

At 10:27 AM, Blogger Richard Layman said...

Good point. As discussed earlier, when cities don't publish in a convenient way the data on pavement and bridge quality, it becomes very difficult to push change forward.

e.g., when the city DDOT chief engineer put out a press release that 90%+ of the city's roads are fair, good or excellent.

On the scale used A-D, Cs aren't really passing grades.

Except for me, none of the "media outlets" really called attention to this discrepancy.

When I responded to the DDOT PR person, they never responded...


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