National Links: Lumber Prices and Solar Pavement

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Barcelona installs solar pavement: Barcelona has installed Spain’s first photovoltaic pavement in a move aimed to create power close to where it’s most needed and reach carbon neutrality by 2050. These first panels will generate roughly the same energy it takes to power three households annually. Due to Barcelona’s high population density, it would be tough to power the whole city, but it could make city dwellers more energy efficient. (Stephen Burgen | The Guardian)

Why Black neighborhoods continue to struggle: A recent study from the Center for Community Progress’ Alan Mallach investigates the ‘crisis of non-replacement’ or the steady decline in Black home buyers and owners in neighborhoods that once were dominated by homeowners with strong middle incomes. These ‘middle neighborhoods’, called this because they are not attractive to private investors but not impoverished enough for government aid, are declining, increasing poverty and flight. However, smart investment at the right time, from home rehabbing to small business loans, can help stabilize and improve conditions. (Alan Greenblat | Governing)

Lumber mania is sweeping America: Lumber prices have skyrocketed in the past year, thanks to soaring demand from the housing market and bored pandemic DIYers. The industry never saw it coming, however, as it has been shrinking for the last 12 post-recession years, believing the pandemic would make it worse. The lack of inventory has caused lumber to be a precious commodity to many, spurring memes and TikToks about the high prices, which are predicted to hold until at least November. (Emily Stewart | Vox)

Breckenridge cancels summer closure of Main Street because of popularity: Breckenridge Colorado has canceled its “Walkable Main” street closure for a surprising reason: it’s super popular. 86% of residents and 83% of businesses supported the street closure, but city council found a way to can it, claiming they were worried about understaffed restaurants operating at 120% of capacity and traffic on side streets. But the restaurants could pay more, and traffic continuing on Main Street won’t be safe either. (Systemic Failure Blog)

The infrastructure fight is about the future of America: Today’s partisan debate about the meaning of infrastructure is not just about what gets built where, but about what kind of country the United States will be in the future. This echoes the events of roughly 200 years ago, evoking the same fear of change and loss of status-quo power that many had when they fought against canal and rail building in the 1820s. (Joshua Zeitz | Politico)

Alissa Guther contributed to these summaries.

Quote of the Week

“Ironically, the communities that had the landfills also had the worst garbage service. Some of these folks could walk their garbage bags to the landfill, but they couldn’t get their garbage picked up by the city. That’s how racism was so ingrained.”

Texas Southern University Professor Robert Bullard discussing in the Texas Observer the country’s first ever Environmental Justice case in which land fills were being located in Houston’s Black neighborhoods.

This week on the podcast, Dr. Mindy Fullilove discusses her book, Main Street: How a City’s Heart Connects Us All.

Jeff Wood

About Jeff Wood

Jeff Wood is an urban planner focused on transportation and land use issues living and working in the San Francisco Bay Area. Jeff blogs at The Overhead Wire and tweets @theoverheadwire. He also shares news links daily from around the country on issues related to cities at The Direct Transfer