PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Sansom and Juniper streets on July 3, after the water main broke

Why does it take so long to upgrade Philly’s water infrastructure? Here's an explanation

When a broken water main sent 15 million gallons surging into Center City streets, public attention was riveted by scenes of pedestrians sloshing along and a cave-in that threatened to swallow…

    • A temporary No Parking sign says street work is schedule from 1/10/18 to T.B.D.

Residents wait wearily as Water Dept. takes months to replace sewers and mains

On the 2300 block of South Mole Street, a temporary “No Parking” sign is stapled to a telephone poll, banning cars during street work scheduled between “1/10/18” and “T.B.D.” As in,…

    • A proposed water rate hike would increase the average water bill by less than $8 per month. (Kelpfish/Bigstock)

On tap for Philadelphia: higher water bills and unhappy home, biz owners

On Tuesday evening, some 30 people gathered in a church basement to hear the Philadelphia Water Department explain why they could soon be paying more to keep their faucets flowing. Speaking…

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ABOUT INFRASTRUCTURE

Infrastructure like roads, water pipes, and sewage systems is simultaneously the most crucial element of urban form while also being the least appreciated.  These forms often run below ground and out of sight and are typically paid for by government agencies, so builders and users alike often take their efficient construction for granted.  However, most infrastructure is very expensive to produce and absolutely necessary for successful urban design. Though its form is rarely seen or acknowledged when it’s working properly, its function can make even the most beautiful of streets an experiential nightmare.  It represents the building blocks of our built environment, and therefore typically comes first in most urban construction.


An important discourse on infrastructure planning, especially in today’s times of factoring energy consumption into the planning process, comes from the suburbs, where low-density developments are built on undeveloped land without previously laying the infrastructure foundation necessary to ensure that the homes are habitable. The sprawl requires local governments to extend public services out to reach these faraway developments, the cost of which can be exorbitant.  In fact, the square footage necessary to connect these distant communities often yields projects that are too expensive to cover with tax payments.  The current trend in planning toward “smart growth” initiatives encourages building in previously developed areas.  These areas are typically well-served by traditional forms of infrastructure.  This infrastructure provides important connections, but it is often aging and therefore requires millions of dollars in upkeep and maintenance, which city governments cannot afford on their own.  This is why infrastructure was central in President Obama’s economic revitalization strategy, highlighted by the “stimulus” bill, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

UPCOMING EVENTS IN INFRASTRUCTURE

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