PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • 51st Shade of Grey, dirty window series | Al BeFranke

DRPA Dispatch: PATCO ridership rebounding after bridge work; DRPA finances rebounding after mismanagement work

After a year of constrained schedules due to maintenance work on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, ridership on PATCO trains has fully rebounded and may be growing past previous highs. PATCO ridership…

    • Washington Ave - where bike lanes have worn away

Broad coalition forms Vision Zero Alliance to push Kenney on street safety [updated]

Philadelphia should be number one in a race to number zero, says a newly formed coalition of runners, cyclists, motorists, health care providers, business leaders and environmentalists advocating for the implementation…

    • Chinatown's plaza over the Vine Street Expressway

Residents discuss capping Vine Street Expressway, other remedies at U.S. DOT forum

Barrier. Obstacle. Divider. Nobody at last week’s Every Place Counts meeting had anything nice to say about the Vine Street Expressway when asked for one-word descriptions of the submerged highway. But…

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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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