“Just build something, and fast…” Might Not be the Best Approach
There is certainly a sense of urgency, and rightfully so, surrounding the current economic stimulus efforts. If spending on infrastructure is to be a key piece of the stimulus efforts, then lets spend the money on fixing existing roads and bridges that have fallen into disrepair and on public transit projects coupled with smart land-use reforms.
Here is an excerpt from a Pittsburg Post-Gazette op-ed on the Mon-Fayette Expressway, a potential target project for federal stimulus funds (here’s the full article)…
Not surprisingly, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., recently suggested that the long-delayed completion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway be put on a list of priorities for the president-elect’s stimulus plan.
So this is our stimulus for the new economy: an “expressway” that will move a shrinking population in more cars for ever longer distances, all in a misguided effort to sustain the past century’s binge of housing tracts and shopping malls.
But if there is one thing we have learned from the recent economic collapse, it is that this old model of debt-driven consumption and resource depletion is no longer sustainable. While spreading out our thinning population more than ever, the Mon-Fayette will plow through walkable communities, historic districts and undeveloped wooded riverbanks.
We might be able to accept the destruction if there were a clear payoff for the future. But the Mon-Fayette is a classic expression of the cheap-energy mindset, oblivious to its long-term impacts on local communities and the wider planet.