PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Food waste disposer

City explores ways to transform commercial food waste into renewable energy

Everytime you throw scraps of vegetables or leftover food into your garbage disposal, the organic matter gets liquefied and transported through Philadelphia’s sewage system to water pollution control plants, where they’re…

    • Water main replacement at S. Carlisle St. in South Philadelphia

Neighbors in River Wards convene panel of experts over lead poisoning concerns

Concerned by recent reports on the dangers of lead poisoning from contaminated soil, dust, and old plumbing, residents in Fishtown and Kensington organized a panel of experts to discuss ways of…

    • Manuel Ortiz said he was not notified of the water main replacement happening in his block in North Philadelphia.

Philadelphia’s building boom gives rise to another hidden lead risk

About five years ago, doctors found high levels of lead in the blood on Manuel Ortiz’s oldest son. Ortiz and his wife were scared. And surprised: Manuel Jr. acted like a…

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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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