PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • milled street before paving

Is your street next? The list of streets to be repaved next week

With the regularity of the Jersey Shore’s tides, I get an email every Friday from the Philadelphia Streets Department with this headline: STREET IMPROVEMENT WORK SCHEDULED FOR THE WEEK OF [NEXT…

    • The Walt Whitman Bridge, opened in 1957, is the second oldest of the area's four Delaware River Bridges. Photo courtesy of DRPA

Port Authority unions get first raises since 2010, absent a Christie veto

After years of working without a raise, the Delaware River Port Authority’s (DRPA) unions are poised to sign new collective bargaining agreements. At their meeting Wednesday, the DRPA board voted to…

    • Below Benjamin Franklin Bridge | David Swift, EOTS Flickr Group

170 monthly parking spots to open beneath Benjamin Franklin Bridge

The Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) board authorized a plan to build a 170-spot parking lot underneath the Benjamin Franklin Bridge. The new lot could be open as soon as September,…

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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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