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Charles Marohn's Posts


Breaking free from the infrastructure cult of roads

Photo: lovelydead Cross-posted from Strong Towns. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has just released a report that should be titled "Pretending it is 1952." Like a broken record, ASCE is again painting a bleak picture of the future if American politicians -- as if they need to be plied -- won't open up the checkbook for our noble engineers. And in a way that the Soviet Central Committee would have expected from Pravda, the media and blogger world is sounding the alarm. This feels more like a cult than a serious discussion on America's future. In the Long …


On Independence Day, towns take back their streets from cars

Photo: Christopher RomanoCross-posted from Strong Towns. A reader sent me this great quote regarding Independence Day from John Adams: It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward forever. In typical Adams style, I'm sure he said it with drama and meant it with all seriousness, but it brings a smile to my face nonetheless. Pomp and parade ... Oh, if he could see us now. I absolutely love the Fourth of July. My hometown of Brainerd bills …


The American suburbs are a giant Ponzi scheme

Not real wealth, just the illusion of wealth.Photo: John "K"We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history -- let alone a tour of other parts of the world -- reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile. How is our experiment …


Wrong way

Confessions of a recovering engineer

Road widening is what engineers are taught to do for safety. Problem is, it makes things more dangerous.Photo: WSDOTCross-posted from Strong Towns. After graduating from college with a civil engineering degree, I found myself working in my home town for a local engineering firm doing mostly municipal engineering (roads, sewer pipe, water pipe, stormwater). A fair percentage of my time was spent convincing people that, when it came to their road, I knew more than they did. And of course I should know more. First, I had a technical degree from a top university. Second, I was in a path …

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