A recent study discovered that towns and cities around the country had removed the pavement on thousands of roads in the last five years.
Aarian Marshall reports on a trend among cash-strapped towns: un-paving roads. According to Marshall, "rural areas all over the country are embracing this kind of strategic retreat." In fact, "Transportation agencies in at least 27 states have unpaved roads, according to a new report from the National Highway Cooperative Highway Research program."
Marshall's exploration of the trend centers on the city of Montpellier, Vermont, which is at the leading edge of the ongoing transportation budget experiment. The results of the experiment are still playing themselves out. For instance, unintended consequences of un-paving might include drivers switching from fuel-efficient cars, like a Prius, to a more durable sports utility vehicle.
However, the experiment is taking a scientific approach. "There are serious engineers and scientists—entire academic institutes, even—who study how to un-pave in smart ways. Crews can even tamp down dust problems by regularly applying water-absorbing calcium chloride, organic petroleum, and vegetable oils and animal fats," reports Marshall.
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Tufts University Department of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning
City of Grand Forks, North Dakota
HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research
City of Birmingham, Alabama
City of Laramie, Wyoming
Colorado Department of Local Affairs
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.