Skip to content Skip to site navigation

Infrastructure

Comments

Roads cause traffic

Yeah, it actually does need to be said. Folks with an investment in expanding highway infrastructure like to act as though the only way to relieve congestion is to build more roads for those cars to ride on. But a soon-to-be-published study shows that traffic expands to fill the space allotted. More roads don't mean more room -- they mean more cars. There are a few reasons for this, but mainly it's that people drive more when it's easier. It's not that we need to have a certain number of cars on the road, and that number just happens to …

Comments

Reviving a river in Mexico City

Mexico City has treated its rivers badly: They tend to be paved over and filled with sewage. But Elías Cattan, a green building leader in Mexico City, wants to turn one of these f*cked-under resources back into a healthy, flowing river. Under Cattan’s guidance, the trash-clogged Río Piedad would become a viable waterway with a park on its banks and a transportation infrastructure dominated by walking, biking, and mass transit. Just give him two years and $1 billion. The city government does not share Cattan's enthusiasm and is more inclined to target less toxic and more easily mended rivers. (Río …

Comments

Buildings that make more energy than they use gain steam

If every building made more energy than it uses, would all the world's power plants pack up and go home? Maybe education would be fully funded and the military would be forced to have a bake sale! But really: There is a building in Bellenberg, Germany that produces more energy than it consumes, mostly by being super energy efficient in the first place. It also has solar panels for electricity and ground-source heat pumps for heating and cooling. It doesn't just produce a little more energy than it uses, either: It's making 80 percent more juice per year than it …

Comments

Tea Party reveals: ‘Sustainable Development’ is sinister attempt to destroy American Dream

Did you know that the seemingly geeky, mild-mannered profession of urban planning is actually a breeding ground for social engineers -- part of a sinister international plot to rob you of your American Dream? Well wake up already, people! The East Bay Tea Party is here to tell you all about it. They have the true story behind the Sustainable Communities Strategy in the Bay Area, a planning effort that would encourage transit-oriented development and density. And it's scary! You can tell, because in their video about a recent meeting about the plan, they use the theme from "Also Sprach …

Comments

Washington’s bikeshare is a capital idea

Capital Bikeshare gives you access to 1,100 bicycles around the city.Photo: DDOT DCDo you know what it means to be "dockblocked"? (Don't worry, that's a "D," not a "C," fellas.) If the answer is yes, you are probably a regular user of the Capital Bikeshare system in Washington, D.C. Dockblocked is what you call it when you can't dock your bikeshare bike because all the spaces are full in the station where you want to stop. It's one of very few glitches in a system that has proven popular beyond the hopes of city officials who launched it last fall. …

Comments

Texas erases $4 billion from education budget, spends it on a giant highway expansion

What does the world need most, in this age of high gas prices and rampant carbon emissions? A 28-mile expansion of highway between Dallas and Denton, Texas! At least, that’s what Texas thinks. Thankfully, the state has freed up just enough money for this crucial project by gutting its education budget. Hey, whatever -- Texas' children can always get jobs as day laborers building these highways. If you're confused about the price tag for 28 miles of highway -- $4.4 billion -- it's because the road would be expanded to 14 lanes. A recently completed commuter rail line along the …

Comments

Great places: dense, wired, and sustainable

This is part three in a series on "great places." Read parts one, two, four, and five. Part of what makes great places great is ecological sustainability. So what's the best way to reduce our per-capita resource footprint? Typically you hear one of two stories. One is about technology: making gadgets, appliances, vehicles, and factories leaner and more efficient. The other is about conservation, i.e., consciously choosing to use less stuff. Neither of those stories captures the biggest opportunity and the best strategy for reducing consumption and waste, which is, quite simply, density. Density is the sine qua non of …

Comments

Monorails suddenly a thing again

Futuristic as they look, monorails never really got a toehold outside of airports, Disney World, and I Can Haz Cheezburger. Now elevated single-track trains might be getting a second chance to become the transportation of the future. Part of the problem with monorails is that they’re slow, and part of it is that they’re really really visible. Monorail track is probably less ugly, in an absolute sense, than elevated train track, but for NIMBYists it’s six of one, half a dozen of the other. But for transportation-starved areas like Osaka, Japan (which has the longest monorail line in the world) …

Comments

Cities as software, and hacking the urban landscape

What if saving a rundown city wasn't about building expensive new infrastructure -- hardware, so to speak -- but instead reprogramming the existing infrastructure? Changing the software of the place? That's the analogy used by Marcus Westbury, founder of Renew Newcastle, an innovative initiative that has breathed life into the vacant downtown of that Australian city. Newcastle, which grew up around the coal and steel industries, suffers from a lot of the same problems as Rust Belt cities in the United States. Its major employers shut down in the latter half of the 20th century, its transportation systems were dismantled, …

Comments

How the Feds saved enough water for a whole city with just a little bit of cash

The Department of the Interior's WaterSMART program will save enough water for a smallish city -- 400,000 people -- yet it cost only $24 million. As Tina Casey reports at CleanTechnica, the program works by going for the low-hanging fruit: 54 separate programs that address everything from farm irrigation to water distribution infrastructure. At $60 per person, the programs are way cheaper than finding an equivalent amount of water by pretty much any other means except dowsing -- especially in the arid Southwest where there isn't any more water to be had. One of the grants simply helps defray the …