I probably shouldn’t admit this, as much as I write about cities, but I’m currently making my way through the first Jane Jacobs’ book I’ve ever picked up (The Death and Life of Great American Cities). It’s a very enjoyable read but also a trying one; again and again Jacobs makes clear how evident it was that certain urban policies were total failures, and yet they were repeated over and over, destroying neighborhood after neighborhood. You read her, and you think how? How did these no-doubt well-intentioned planners and officials allow these things to take place? How did the citizens of these places?
Via this (very good) post over at Richard Layman’s place, I found this Washington Post op-ed by Fred Hiatt. Hiatt uses his column to basically reiterate the notion that the only thing preventing a solution to growing Washington congestion is a lack of will–the will to build as many roads as it will take to ease congestion.Â I read this and I think, where? Where has Hiatt seen any evidence at all that it’s possible to pave one’s way out of congestion? Nowhere, is the answer, because there isn’t any. Hiatt thinks it’s a brilliant idea to nearly double the amount of blacktop in the area. What do you say to someone who wants to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to build millions of miles of road and extend the metropolitan area to two or three times its current size–and thinks this is the best solution. What do you say to the paper that publishes him?