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They Paved Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot …

"Big Asphalt" has compromised our health, safety, and welfare—but we can defeat it if we try.
March 20, 2015, 5am PDT | newurban
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In America we have 2.5 million miles of paved roads, and an estimated 800 million parking spaces. Thanks to the "asphalt-industrial machine," which is like a Borg that exists to expand itself, we have the largest asphalt paving industry in the world, producing 400 million tons annually.

The paving promotes more driving, which in turn raises the demand for paving. In the last 100 years we paved a total area that is half the size of Pennsylvania, and this requires ongoing service and maintenance, which feeds the industry perpetually.

American industrial and professional sectors have evolved to serve the machine. Big players are the asphalt, aggregate, and ready-mix producers, and the paving contractors. These include Oldcastle Materials and The Koch Industries—not household names, because you don't drive to the big box store to buy asphalt. You drive and park on asphalt. Our retail industry, which used to serve neighborhoods and communities, now depends on asphalt. The biggest corporation in the world, Walmart, would not exist at anywhere near its current size without Big Asphalt.

The automobile and trucking industries also are built on pavement. The oil industry feeds the asphalt-industrial machine.

Transportation engineers have long been co-opted by the machine, as have transportation planners and Departments of Transportation (DOTs). These groups apply rules and standards that supposedly promote safety, but mostly serve Big Asphalt—which harms people in many ways:

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Published on Thursday, March 19, 2015 in Better Cities & Towns
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