AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Advanced search  

Author Topic: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs  (Read 8614 times)

TXtoNJ

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 473
  • Last Login: Today at 04:40:57 PM
Re: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs
« Reply #25 on: October 29, 2015, 11:26:40 AM »

I think that's one of the fundamental problems with our highway network. Never quite understood why, for example, I-5 goes straight through downtown Seattle. It seems to me that, given the opportunity to redo the system, routing I-5 away from Seattle (perhaps through Maple Valley through to the Snoqualmie Valley, and north from there) would have made more sense. I'm not saying urban freeways are bad, but the US seems to love plowing through neighborhoods more than anything.
Yes.  Or, at the time the I-5 routing decision was made, taking I-405's route through Bellevue would have made a lot more sense.

A lot of U.S. cities seemed to use the interstates as an excuse for slum clearance.

Indeed, there was a period of time in American urban planning where that was quite in vogue. It more or less ended when people figured out that freeways were not particularly effective at eliminating slums and in some cases could actually contribute to creating them (see, for example, Winslow AZ, or any other western town that's a shadow of its former self ever since an interstate bypassed it).

When comparing things to Europe, though, there's also this thing called population density that makes a huge difference in how things work. The Netherlands have a higher population density than any US state, and most European countries have population densities on par with the top 15 US states.

US populaton densities
World population densities

Safe to say, the US has a much sharper divide between urban and rural than Europe does, and this often has a profound impact on our politics since urban and rural areas can easily get pitted against one another. When the interstate highway system was first conceived it was not intended (at least not by Eisenhower himself) to build a lot of routes directly into cities, but there was all this federal money available and cities wanted a piece of it. They weren't about to let it all go to rural areas when they were paying taxes for it. (cite)

Note as well how the country's pre-interstate toll roads tended to skirt around cities rather than being built through the heart of them. Because they were funded by tolls rather than taxes everyone paid, they didn't suffer from the same urban versus rural fighting. And meanwhile because they avoid going through the middle of cities, they actually better serve long distance traffic since they don't get plugged up by the congestion that going through the middle of a city tends to bring (okay, the tolls and wider interchange spacing also help by keeping short local trips off of them).

This model of building around rather than through cities is of generally superior utility and generally more common in Europe. It probably would be more common than it is in the US had we stuck to using tolls as a primary funding source rather than decreeing that no interstate highway shall have a toll unless grandfathered in.




There was also a national security concern that didn't exist in Europe - the desire to disperse (white) population throughout the countryside to increase survivability in the case of nuclear attack. This required high-speed access to existing employment centers in the city, while encouraging the development of bedroom communities that wouldn't be targeted. This dovetailed with existing Garden City preferences and spurred federal action leading to suburbanization, including funding for urban Interstates.

The existing density and amount of nuclear ordnance that would be dropped upon Europe in the case of a NATO-Warsaw Pact made that a moot point over there, but it was hoped over here that dispersal could avoid such a risk. The development of multi-megaton hydrogen bombs, along with the understanding of fallout risks, eventually proved this to be a pipe dream.
Logged

cpzilliacus

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 9970
  • Age: 59
  • Location: Maryland
  • Last Login: Today at 12:50:05 AM
Re: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2015, 10:16:22 AM »

Safe to say, the US has a much sharper divide between urban and rural than Europe does, and this often has a profound impact on our politics since urban and rural areas can easily get pitted against one another. When the interstate highway system was first conceived it was not intended (at least not by Eisenhower himself) to build a lot of routes directly into cities, but there was all this federal money available and cities wanted a piece of it. They weren't about to let it all go to rural areas when they were paying taxes for it. (cite)

It was intended to connect cities (at least cities of a certain population) and link the 48 states.

Note as well how the country's pre-interstate toll roads tended to skirt around cities rather than being built through the heart of them. Because they were funded by tolls rather than taxes everyone paid, they didn't suffer from the same urban versus rural fighting. And meanwhile because they avoid going through the middle of cities, they actually better serve long distance traffic since they don't get plugged up by the congestion that going through the middle of a city tends to bring (okay, the tolls and wider interchange spacing also help by keeping short local trips off of them).

This model of building around rather than through cities is of generally superior utility and generally more common in Europe. It probably would be more common than it is in the US had we stuck to using tolls as a primary funding source rather than decreeing that no interstate highway shall have a toll unless grandfathered in.

Some toll roads went close or through cities (some that come to my mind are the Mass Pike into downtown Boston; the New York State Thruway which ends at the corporate limit of New York City; the New Jersey Turnpike, which runs through several cities, perhaps especially Elizabeth (it had to go somewhere to reach the George Washington Bridge); and the Richmond Petersburg Turnpike [de-tolled 1992], which runs right through Richmond and Petersburg)).  The Connecticut Turnpike also ran through a fair number of cities, though I do not have a feel as to how developed some of them were when the Turnpike was constructed.

Some cities in Europe have few or no freeway-type roads going to the core or downtown area.  One that some members of this group are familiar with is London, where there is little in the way of motorway inside of M25 (the London "beltway," usually called an "orbital" motorway in the UK).
Logged
Opinions expressed here on AAROADS are strictly personal and mine alone, and do not reflect policies or positions of MWCOG, NCRTPB or their member federal, state, county and municipal governments or any other agency.

english si

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 3206
  • Age: 32
  • Location: Buckinghamshire, England
  • Last Login: Today at 08:53:01 AM
Re: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs
« Reply #27 on: October 30, 2015, 11:17:11 AM »

Some cities in Europe have few or no freeway-type roads going to the core or downtown area.  One that some members of this group are familiar with is London, where there is little in the way of motorway inside of M25 (the London "beltway," usually called an "orbital" motorway in the UK).
There's more freeways than just the motorways, but London does suck there.

The oil crisis and protests against cities' (not just London, which, while incredibly destructive, looked sane compared to other cities' - eg Newcastle-upon-Tyne) over-the-top plans for urban motorway networks killed it all off. Local government reorganisation outside London in '74 also helped ruin the plans - not just urban - in what is now the 'M62 belt' (and Tyneside too).

As often has happened to London's transport network, it pioneered, and made a load of mistakes/suffered technical/creative difficulties that we still pay for* and other cities were able to learn from and get right. That said, there was little-to-no reason why the Arterial Roads of the 1920s couldn't have been both better protected from development. Some managed to be upgraded into decent-enough freeway-quality roads (a lot of the Western Avenue, parts of the North Circular, all the Kingston bypass) eventually, but on many, the damage was done in the design of the road on day 1 (eg nice round 'Circuses' providing junctions, framed by some commercial development on the edge of the circle) and all that can exist along those routes is an up-to-6-lane boulevard with frontages.

*See also the small gauges in operation on the UK's railways - from the small tunnels of the deep-tube network, to the inability to have double-deck trains that work.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 11:22:40 AM by english si »
Logged

J N Winkler

  • *
  • Online Online

  • Posts: 5742
  • Location: Wichita, Kansas/Oxford, Great Britain
  • Last Login: Today at 06:39:33 PM
Re: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs
« Reply #28 on: October 30, 2015, 11:54:51 AM »

As often has happened to London's transport network, it pioneered, and made a load of mistakes/suffered technical/creative difficulties that we still pay for* and other cities were able to learn from and get right. That said, there was little-to-no reason why the Arterial Roads of the 1920s couldn't have been both better protected from development. Some managed to be upgraded into decent-enough freeway-quality roads (a lot of the Western Avenue, parts of the North Circular, all the Kingston bypass) eventually, but on many, the damage was done in the design of the road on day 1 (eg nice round 'Circuses' providing junctions, framed by some commercial development on the edge of the circle) and all that can exist along those routes is an up-to-6-lane boulevard with frontages.

The underlying issue was the compensation-betterment problem.  The Ministry of Transport published its first set of comprehensive guidelines for road design and layout in 1930, and it advocated construction of service drives to segregate local and through traffic to maintain the arterial character of the road.  However, in many cases this involved a tradeoff (financially unattractive to many local authorities, who were in the driver's seat at the time since there was no trunk network entirely under central government control) in favor of acquiring more land only to get less in betterment from businesses fronting on the service road.

There were other factors operating in the background.  The collapse of the primary industries, mostly located in the north of England, resulted in a large population transfer to the south, which had fairly robust secondary industries (including car manufacturing).  That resulted in a lot of housebuilding and there was a lag before policy started to catch up with measures like the Restriction of Ribbon Development Act 1935.  The economy was stagnant during the interwar years, with high unemployment, but the Treasury View (the intellectual forerunner of today's austerity mania) held sway, so infrastructure spending--including roads--was an easy cut.
Logged
"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

Duke87

  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 4926
  • Age: 30
  • Location: Queens, NY
  • Last Login: Today at 01:19:23 AM
Re: Foreign country superhighway construction and the NIMBYs
« Reply #29 on: October 30, 2015, 11:37:28 PM »

Some toll roads went close or through cities (some that come to my mind are the Mass Pike into downtown Boston; the New York State Thruway which ends at the corporate limit of New York City; the New Jersey Turnpike, which runs through several cities, perhaps especially Elizabeth (it had to go somewhere to reach the George Washington Bridge); and the Richmond Petersburg Turnpike [de-tolled 1992], which runs right through Richmond and Petersburg)).  The Connecticut Turnpike also ran through a fair number of cities, though I do not have a feel as to how developed some of them were when the Turnpike was constructed.

The Mass Pike originally ended at 128, and you may note it skirts the edge of Springfield and Worcester rather than passing through the middle of them. The extension into Boston came later.

The NYS Thruway does end at the NY City line, but it skirts the edges of every other major city along its route without passing through the heart of them (Niagara Spur notwithstanding).

The NJ Turnpike by virtue of being in New Jersey bypasses Philadelphia and the bulk of NY City (but unfortunately not all of it). Also bypasses Trenton and skirts the edge of New Brunswick and Newark. It was built through an already urbanized part of Elizabeth, but that would have been difficult to avoid and it wasn't built directly through downtown or with any interchanges positioned to directly serve downtown.

As for the CT Turnpike, yes, that is a fairly glaring exception. It serves several major downtowns directly and they all were well established prior to it being built. Worth noting that the CT turnpike always had a strictly barrier toll system - there were never any ticketed sections or ramp tolls. So its means of collecting revenue was also unusual, it was deliberately designed so that most local traffic could use it for free while long distance traffic would have to pay. It was less of a true toll road and more of a freeway with toll plazas grafted onto it, which is why today there are no obvious vestiges of its former tolling.

CT by the time they built their turnpike had also already built the Merritt and Wilbur Cross Parkways further inland, bypassing all the downtowns along the coast. These roads were once tolled as well, so an argument could be made for putting them into the "toll roads bypassing urban areas" category.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2015, 11:40:44 PM by Duke87 »
Logged
If you always take the same road, you will never see anything new.

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.