Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Planning for Sprawl

Highway enthusiasts and "anti-planners" scoff at the notion that freeways cause sprawl, much less that freeways are essentially subsidies provided by government to developers. And I can see why--when you start thinking that way, everything starts looking like a conspiracy. But then you see things like this:

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That's a map of the proposed Grand Parkway section between 290 and I-10. The shaded areas show the population/employment density within three miles of the Parkway. The lightest grey is 0-230 persons and jobs per square mile, the middle greay is 251-750, and the dark grey is 751-1750. There are only 80,000 people currently in this area that would be served by this 20-odd mile long grandiose debacle.
So why would we build a highway that serves so few people? It’s not to deal with congestion, since there is no congestion there. It’s not to provide an alternate to 290 — the way to do that is to build the Hempstead toll road, running along 290 rather than taking a 20 mile detour.

There’s only one reason to build Segment E: to encourage development. If the commissioners approve it, it’s because they want new subdivisions built in the open space of the Katy Prairie. We’re building a highway for people who don’t live here yet in hopes that developers will build houses for them and that they will want to live on a toll road 30 miles from Downtown in a world of $4 gas. This is, simply put, land use planning, Houston style. And the question for the commissioners is this: is this good planning?

So asks Christof Spieler of Intermodality. This is, in fact, the kind of planning that "anti-planners" actually believe in. It's amazing to think that this is still even on the drawing board--but I have little doubt that it will indeed be built. And transit spending will continue to struggle.

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Blogger jdallen said...

I think that goes without saying. 288 and Pearland and points south toward Angleton would not be what they are, and what they are going to be, without the "new" 288.

Fairly obvious.

What is perhaps less obvious, is the hidden motivation behind the planners - the Freudian significance of the appearance of the shaded area. Or, maybe that's just my imagination.

7:11 AM  

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