Tackling the Auto-Orientation and Urban Pollution of Mexico

The City of Villahermosa, Mexico, an oil industry town in Tabasco, is reclaiming space from the auto, rejuvenating their urban spaces, and on a more basic level, cleaning the water supply and modernizing their sewage systems.
June 25, 2012, 8am PDT | Irvin Dawid
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Rocky Casale writes of the challenges facing Mexico's cities, particularly Villahermosa, the capital of Tabasco state and a bastion of the oil and natural gas industry:

"The problem with Villahermosa is that it was built for the car," Mayor Jesús Alí said. "We're trying to change that now by encouraging pedestrian culture and building or improving existing urban projects that eliminate traffic and ultimately put more eyes on the street" to discourage crime."

"We recognize that it's time to link people back to their parks and public spaces," Mr. Alí added.

Architect Enrique Norten of Ten Arquitectos has proposed a three-phase master plan to make Villahermosa more pedestrian-friendly. Phase 1 was completed in September.

Rejuvenation of Villahermosa's urban parks has had a major beneficial effect on the city, says Casale. "The number of robberies and sexual assaults, two of the city's largest problems, dropped significantly....Tourism meanwhile is growing."

Casale also reports on urban planning efforts in Mexico City, such as "the Sunday closure to vehicles on three of Mexico City's major streets in the historic center".

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Published on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 in The New York Times - Global Business
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