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The Lost Art of Great Infrastructure in America

Writing in the New York Times, Allison Arieff asks what happened to the great works of public infrastructure from years past that stand as today's monuments to America’s achievements.
February 22, 2016, 8am PST | jwilliams | @jwillia22
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The investment in infrastructure in America today is mostly spent on what Arieff describes as "deferred maintenance"—the road repairs, bolt replacements, etc. The bridges and tunnels and other infrastructure investments that really shaped a city seem to be a thing of the past, with stories about infrastructure largely focusing on cost overruns or the failure of existing construction.

Is the age of great infrastructure over? Perhaps not, as Arieff points out while focusing on Atlanta's BeltLine (the 22-mile transit greenway around the city of Atlanta) and the reinvestment and reimagination of the Los Angeles River—the concrete waterway that snaked through the city and has been largely ignored for decades.

Arieff places part of the responsibility for the lack of enthusiasm in new infrastructure at the feet of the policy peoples (including planners!) who are supposed to sell the benefits of such projects to the community.

…engineers, planners and policy makers tend to focus on wonky stuff like percentage of parkland per person. They’re awash in acronyms like V.M.T. (vehicle miles traveled), too reliant on planning terms like modeshare that don’t resonate with the general public. These things may be useful in measuring the metrics of a city, but they sure don’t get to the reasons people want to live there.

Full Story:
Published on Friday, February 12, 2016 in The New York Times
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