No Light Rail in Vancouver!
Transportation: Planning or Procrastinating?
According to the Texas Transportation Institute’s annual mobility reports, traffic delays due to congestion have been growing at nearly 8 percent per year since 1982. Those who closely scrutinize urban transportation planning in the U.S. increasingly believe that planners are doing everything they can to avoid solving this problem.
Case in point: Portland, Oregon, which sits astride the Willamette River and has
ten roadway crossings of that river. One of them, the Sellwood Bridge, is structurally
unsound and in 2004 the county engineer has banned all trucks and buses from the
bridge. I can testify that the bridge is also one of the least bicycle-
In 2005, Bechtel Corporation came to Multnomah County with a proposal to build a
new bridge. The company would presumably recover its expenses by tolling the bridge.
Planners now say it will be at least 2010 before construction on a new bridge even begins. Even though Portland’s population has grown by many times since the original Sellwood Bridge was built, the replacement bridge is almost certain to add no new capacity for autos.
This reminds of of the story of Henry Kaiser (scroll down to “7-
Kaiser, whose resume including building roads, dams, liberty ships, automobiles, housing developments, and hotels, among other things, visited the governor and offered to build the road for the cost of the study. The governor said that they would have to bid it out. Kaiser won the bid and finished the road in just four months, for less than both the cost and the anticipated time required for the study.
That couldn’t happen today. Instead, planners do endless studies before a spade of dirt is turned. Brookings Institution economist Clifford Winston reports, for example, that Washington Metro wanted to build a rail line to Capital Center, a popular entertainment venue. After ten years of planning and construction, the rail line was completed — three years after Capital Center closed.
Such nearly endless planning guarantees that transport systems cannot respond to congestion and changing travel patterns, even if planners wanted to (which Portland planners do not).
Trackback • Posted in Transportation, Why Planning Fails
Reprinted from The Antiplanner