PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Schuylkill Banks offers new adopt-a-bench program

From trucks to trails, Philly’s new $181 million bond will pay for improvements citywide

A new dock for dragon boats, HVAC systems for the city’s homeless shelters, and a cap for I-95 along Penn’s Landing are among the capital projects Mayor Jim Kenney will fund…

    • A city worker inspects a sewer in Philadelphia, Pa. (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

New partnership will protect 475,000 Philly homeowners from sewer snafus

John Coats said he began to a panic when he found that his basement toilet was overflowing on its own. A faulty sewer line from the street was sending water back…

    • One of Doylestown's decorative street lamps near the intersection of Main and State streets

Bill seeks to streamline faster wireless broadband, steamroll local control of the streetscape

Jack O’Brien was explaining how Doylestown got into this legal mess when the call cut out. There was some static, some garble, and then the connection strengthened a bit. “That’s the…

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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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