Don't Fall in Love with Light Rail Yet

Light rail is seen as a golden opportunity to revive inner cities. Not so fast, argues Alan Hoffman.
July 13, 2009, 6am PDT | Nate Berg
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Hoffman compares the urban love affair with light rail to the early praise rained on the interstate highway system. Years later, that system would be derided heavily from all around the country.

"It's becoming clear the freeway-based system may not be sustainable. Metro-area auto congestion continues to worsen, urban sprawl continues unabated (while threatening some of our most productive farmland), concerns about greenhouse gas emissions are growing, and there's the specter of steeply rising prices for 'post-peak' oil.

But leaping to light rail could well trigger a new set of unintended consequences. In some locations, it may work well–it is a proven and popular transportation tool. But I'd argue it's as mismatched to today's American urban form as was the freeway-centric vision of the 1950s to the urban form of its day. And that we ignore this mismatch at our peril."

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Published on Thursday, July 9, 2009 in Citiwire
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