Walking the Walk

Urban design from the front lines

Kevin Klinkenberg

Using urban design to make our lives more enjoyable and create wealth

This site is for all those interested in the making of cities and towns, and especially the lives of the humans that inhabit them. Kevin Klinkenberg is an architect and urban designer who's practiced from coast-to-coast. 

Sierra Club questions safety of truck-only lanes on I-70

I wanted to share this link to a story that ran Sunday on the Kansas City Star's webpage, KansasCity.com: It's interesting and sad to me that the only primary opposition to plans like these come from the Sierra Club. Where are our business groups, urban real estate interests, economic development agencies, etc. in this debate? The plan as promoted is frankly an outrageous misallocation of federal and state dollars - literally spending multiple billions on an outmoded idea that will not increase prosperity for our communities in Missouri. The only direct benefits are to the heavy contractors and large engineering firms that would see years of make-work. I have no beef with them - they are working in their own self-interest, though they could certainly also make money on projects that actually provide long-term benefits to our communities.

Instead, it's more bothersome that our own business concerns don't have a problem with such wastefulness. For the money that will be spent on this, we could build entire transit systems for Kansas City, St Louis, and some smaller cities in Missouri. And, those systems would serve to benefit our citizens far more in a world of diminishing energy resources. By the time such a reconstruction would be complete, it's entirely possible there won't even be a trucking industry as we know it today. As oil supplies diminish and costs rise, more and more freight will have to be moved on rail, not by diesel trucks. On top of the economic benefits, the idea that "truck only" lanes are a safety feature is truly bizarre. It's right up there with the idea that wider traffic lanes on city streets are safer, when the opposite has been proved time and time again. These are not ideas grounded in any kind of good science.

We often wonder why, even though we are a wealthy country, we seem so short on money for things like transit operations, road & bridge repairs, school maintenance, sewer upgrades, etc. It's precisely because of projects like this, which spend so much of our public dollars on one foolish big-ticket item, with no return on that investment. It's time to re-order our priorities if we are to be competitive in the coming decades.