Digging Holes

<p style="margin: 0in 0in 10pt" class="MsoNormal"> <span style="font-size: small"><span style="font-family: Calibri">Once upon a time there was a transportation planner driving thru the sunbelt.<span>  </span>He pulled into a truck stop and while fueling his vehicle he noticed a couple of workers working on the shoulder down the road.<span>  </span>One man appeared to be digging holes about three feet across and three feet deep along the side of the road.<span>  </span></span></span> </p>

Read Time: 2 minutes

December 21, 2010, 5:43 PM PST

By Steven Polzin


Once upon a time there was a transportation planner driving thru the sunbelt.  He pulled into a truck stop and while fueling his vehicle he noticed a couple of workers working on the shoulder down the road.  One man appeared to be digging holes about three feet across and three feet deep along the side of the road. 

A few hundred yards down the road the other fellow appeared to be filling the holes back in.  As visions of soil testing, cable installation and utility mapping danced through his head the planner became curious.  He decided to have a burger and fries. 

He sat by the window and watched as the work men continued down the road, one digging holes and the other filling them in about thirty minutes later. 

His curiosity increased. 

As he pulled away from the truck stop he couldn't help himself and decided to pull over to ask what the men were working on.  As he approached, the first man politely greeting him, introducing himself as Joe.  As the planner asked what he was doing, Joe proudly explained it was his job to dig holes every 50 feet to a specification of three feet in diameter and three feet deep. 

The second man had now walked over and similarly introduced himself as Butch and boasted, "My job is to fill in the holes and make sure the soil is compacted." 

The planner paused in puzzlement while Joe interjected, "Too bad you couldn't meet Chuck, its his job to put trees in the holes, but he's out sick today." 

Transportation planning can be a lot like Joe and Butch working with Chuck out sick.  If we just go through the motions and don't offer honest, objective and relevant substance for the decision makers there is no value in the planning.  Sometimes Joe and Chuck show up and Butch doesn't and the plans die.  Sometimes we just dig holes and neither Chuck nor Butch show up.  Sometimes everything is done right and no one appreciates the trees.

Season's greetings and may all your 2011 holes have trees and backfill and be appreciated by the policy makers and public. 


Steven Polzin

Dr. Polzin is the director of mobility policy research at the Center for Urban Transportation Research at the University of South Florida and is responsible for coordinating the Center's involvement in the University's educational program. Dr.

Hyperloop

The Hyperloop’s Prospects Dim

The media is coming around to the idea that the hyperloop is not a near-term solution for the country’s transportation woes. It’s too little, too obvious, too late.

September 27, 2022 - James Brasuell

Miami and Key Biscayne

The Great American Exodus: A Conservative's Perspective

During his keynote speech on September 11 at the National Conservatism Conference in Miami, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis describes the demographic shifts in America since he became governor in 2019 in what he calls the 'Great American Exodus.'

September 27, 2022 - The Wall Street Journal

A crowd of people cross the street with a sign for the entrance of Disneyland in the background

Disneyland Is Too Crowded. Is More Capacity Needed?

Disneyland has a plan to create more supply to meet contemporary demand, a strategy reminiscent of contemporary debates surrounding housing and transportation.

September 29, 2022 - James Brasuell

A crosswalk activation button is shown in the foreground with two pedestrians show blurred while crossing the street in the background.

Jaywalking Decriminalized in California

Another day, another historic planning-related bill signed into law in the Golden State.

October 4 - Los Angeles Times

Aerial view of Walla Walla, Washington

Smart Growth Plan Hopes to Rein in Sprawl in Walla Walla

The Washington city reformed its zoning code to support more multifamily development and a diversity of housing types to meet the needs of its growing population.

October 4 - Planning Magazine

Man with leather messenger bag riding CitiBike bike on New York street

The Resilience of Bikeshare

The inherent simplicity of bikes makes shared mobility systems a crucial transportation option during natural disasters.

October 4 - Bloomberg CityLab

New Case Study Posted on HUD User

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on PD&R Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

The World’s Leading Event for Cities

Smart City Expo World Congress

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.