Extortion is a Process

Rube-Goldberg Urbanism: what is the maximum amount of energy that can be exerted in order to move one person between two places?

The United States Department of Transportation’s twitter feed informed me today that their new Beyond Traffic 2045 report is a process.  As is virtually everything in this world, even a blink of an eye exists on a time line, requires some measure of energy exertion, and has a beginning, middle, and end state of a newly moistened cornea.  I’m a big fan of meaningless words.  We can fill them with whatever definition we choose.  It’s a remarkably effective rhetorical strategy, to use words like ‘design.’  “We need more design.”

The USDOT’s report however is not asking for more design, but in the same vain as the designer suggesting design, they are asking for money.  The report is full of diagrams about our failing infrastructure (that they built and failed to account for its repercussions, maintenance, and life cycle costs.  Oops.) and how an increase in transportation funding is the only way to do it.  The junkie will get clean this time, they promise.  I’d be more than happy to pony up more tax $ if it meant we got a return on investment like increased mobility through more convenient, alternate choices and less individual transportation costs. Not more debt, deferred maintenance, wasteful construction, and overall less mobility.  That’s just dumb.

Angie Schmitt at Streetsblog gives it the full run down on how for too long we’ve been spending more on expansion while allowing existing infrastructure to fail.  Not a bad strategy if the tactic is that failed infrastructure is reason to spend more.



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