Every day at The Overhead Wire we collect news about cities and send the links to our email list. At the end of the week we take some of the most popular stories and post them to Greater Greater Washington, a group blog similar to streets.mn that focuses on urban issues in the D.C. region. They are national links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.
Race shaped America’s roads and cities: Racist practices such as bulldozing neighborhoods where people of color lived to build highways has shaped American roadways and cities. Following the path of least resistance, planners often built through Black neighborhoods and places where people had no decision making power. Planning now, should focus on making sure access to amenities is not just reserved for white people or those with higher income. (Ashish Valentine | NPR)
The case for congestion pricing: LA is America’s most car centric country and is about to pilot a type of congestion pricing through a toll program for freeway drivers at peak hours starting 2021. For equity, low income drivers will garner a discount on the toll and in terms of travel time, congestion pricing is supposed to reduce that too. Along with environmental benefits, the lanes will require at least five passengers to be free. (Professor Donald Shoup | CityLab)
Making cities equitable for all genders: Female voices are often not heard in urban issues, even though issues such as gentrification, availability of restrooms, police defunding and more are all feminist issues. This is because our spaces and built environment are largely shaped by a single-gendered view and power relations. Our cities rarely reflect women, as they choose to focus on the traditional “breadwinner” and ignore the domestic side. In this interview Leslie Kern discusses her new book focusing on these issues, Feminist City. (Leilah Stone | Metropolis Magazine)
How Phoenix will deal with climate change: America’s hottest city has developed a plan to battle climate change. Currently Phoenix is a hot spot, not just in terms of temperature, but also coronavirus cases and protests; and communities of color are most under threat in all three cases. The city is thus developing a Heat Action Plan and are hoping to produce the innovations that’ll allow Phoenix to become a sustainable desert city and allow its residents to adapt. (Sarah Kaplan | Washington Post)
Gentrification fears in North Philly: A development plan for one of the poorest neighborhoods of Philadelphia is raising gentrification fears. Currently the developers have no obligation to provide affordable housing for low income communities, but a zoning change would require it, thus creating a sense of urgency to change laws. The development would not only break up a vibrant neighborhood of Latinos and Blacks, but also raise the median home price. (Jason Laughlin | Philadelphia Inquirer)
Quote of the Week
“Cities have become much more expensive, and housing is not the only factor. For non-college workers, you have a combination of changing wage structure and then rising prices, and the net effect is making cities less attractive for people without college degrees.”
David Autor in MIT News discussing how cities have stopped creating lower and middle class jobs for Black and Latino workers.
This week on the podcast, Brianne Eby of the Eno Center for Transportation joins us to talk congestion pricing.
“Racist practices such as bulldozing neighborhoods where people of color lived to build highways has shaped American roadways and cities”
This is often repeated, but would someone please explain why this applies to the Twin Cities? I35W replaced a wide, 10 mile long swatch of middle class neighborhoods in south Minneapolis around 1960. I35E replaced middle class neighborhoods as it carved a swatch through St. Paul and then more middle class neighborhoods as it went north to 694. 394 westbound and I94 northbound mostly consumed industrial, commercial areas, replaced existing highway.
As far as I know the only part of any freeway system in the Twin Cities that consumed a primarily Black neighborhood is the section of 94 from Hamline to downtown St. Paul which strikes me as a rational route if the goal is to connect the two downtowns.
I’m not saying that there weren’t alternate routes, or that the freeways needed to have been built in the first place, but I think it’s disingenuous that they were put there because of racist motives as is so often stated.
If you look at the history of the I94 routing, there were several reasonable routes considered. Only one would require the destruction of Rondo. St. Paul’s city engineer opposed the route via Rondo and suggested the alternative Northern Route, which would run adjacent to railroad tracks north of St. Anthony Avenue, leaving the street intact.
They went through Rondo on purpose. They went through parts of Bryant on purpose. How can you look at the past, at what people actually said and wrote, and entertain for even a moment that it was a coincidence? They told you it isn’t.
There’s a whole website on the 35W topic you can explore. https://35w.heritage.dash.umn.edu/
Just an observation. Have you ever noticed how freeways go straight through what were residential areas, but get lots of turns when going thru industrialized areas?
That’s a debatable claim. What examples do you have in mind?
35W going north out of downtown is remarkably different than going south. Going north is full of turns trying to thread the needle. Going south there’s a jog to avoid the old Honeywell plant then straight to the 62 Crosstown jog. I don’t know why that jog happened, but 62 was originally a County road before becoming a State highway. BTW, 35W going south had problems similar to Rondo. https://35w.heritage.dash.umn.edu/essays/old-southside-minneapolis-and-the-35w-dividing-line/
That’s because when a freeway needs to go diagonal (like I-35W north but not I-35W south) overall it’s less disruptive to have it make turns to try to somewhat align it to the grid. And some of the turns were to link up with I-335.