Talkin’ Infrastructure With Chuck Marohn, Mike McGinn, and Kevin Shephard

Last week, Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns hosted a video panel to discuss a very hot topic: How America’s infrastructure got to be in such bad shape.

This “Friday News Discussion” featured former Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, Kevin Shepard, a Texas-based professional engineer and principal at the firm Verdunity, and me, representing Streetsblog.

It was especially interesting to hear a former mayor’s take on these issues and what cities can do to resist the pressure to back wasteful megaprojects like Seattle’s disastrous deep-bore tunnel, which McGinn paid a political price for opposing.

If you’re not already plugged into these talks at Strong Towns or some of their other great work, you ought to check it out.

  • Is it a blessing in disguise when state DOT turns over highways to cities?

    Here in Kirkland (Eastside of Seattle), WSDOT gave WA 908 to Kirkland since it really hasn’t been a highway for at least a decade or two.

    This could have been a blessing in disguise but what both Kirkland and Redmond (the city that got control of the other half of the highway) did was they both rebuilt the stroad making no changes to the stroad itself. They added a sidewalk on one side in Redmond’s case and sidewalks on both sides in Kirkland’s case, but they left it as a high speed 5 lane highway with wide lanes, huge turning radius corners. So the cities collectively spent multiple millions of taxpayer money to add sidewalks to a stroad that is still a stroad so nobody new will be walking along it, therefore not attracting any new business or mixed use development along it (since nobody will ever want to live on this stroad until it is changed to be not a stroad).

    So I would say that this could be a blessing in disguise but the city has to recognize it as such and not just waste more money than the state would have wasted to keep it as a highway.

  • bikecar101.com

    Thank you Angie for posting this video conference. Through watching forums such as this along with attending local roundtable meetings, I am surprised at the lack of communication between State and local (city) agencies with regard to planning/changing infrastructure. Further, why have the lines of communication between various agencies remained stagnant for so long? Advocates have been hard at work over the years and progress still remains slow? One would think that there might be some inter-agency discussions to improve planning strategies that improve overall infrastructure within cities to city-to-city within a State. Communication seems to be the key or at least a large factor toward moving progress forward in a timely manner.

    Additionally, I was surprised to hear that large and unattainable projects get pushed through more easily than practical improvements from former Mayor Mike McGinn — Wow — unbelievable. I enjoyed to hear your comment regarding change happening from those at the local levels. I would hope that more people watch this video and engage with advocacy groups to make a change for the better in terms of safer infrastructure for people who choose to bike and walk within a city. Hopefully the words of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx (in a recent interview with Eric Schmidt of Google) are heard in all planning departments throughout the nation — to listen to those locally who are advocating for a change in city infrastructure that better accommodates its residents and at the same time reduces damage to the environment.

    Again, thank you for posting the video.

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