I swear this isn’t going to become a transportation blog–soon, I’ll write about some other things, the Redskins, maybe–but I wanted to point out two quick articles from today’s papers.
First, the News and Observer has a story today on why light rail is being built in Charlotte and not in Raleigh. Many explanations are offered, but the only one that really matters here, in my opinion, is that Charlotte got its funding secured before the Federal Government tightened its cost standards in 2005. The interesting side note is the political unification factor, which is an issue that colors many of the regional policies in the Triangle just as it does in the Washington area.
Why is this all important? It’s not just some juvenile fascination with trains. Cities are the fundamental units of an economy, and they work by crowding lots of resources into a small area to allow them all to interact. There are difficulties associated with accomodating these resources, however, most of which focus around two central questions: where can we put the people who work in the city, and how can we get them from there to their jobs?
The issues of housing and transportation are key to understanding how cities function or fail to function, and the way that cities address these issues is key to understanding the quality of life city residents tend to have. This piece, in the Washington Post, addresses some of the more pressing difficulties with urban housing, but one has to connect them with transit to get the entire picture.
This all sort of goes back to the point I attempted to make last week: given that the health of our cities is key to economic growth and improved quality of life for citizens, and given that the development of a sensible transportation and housing structure is the key to that health, why isn’t greater priority given to the way we build our cities?