PlanPhilly

Infrastructure

    • Workers examine a sinkhole in Kensington. (Bobby Allyn/WHYY)

Sinkholes, another byproduct of Philly's aging infrastructure

James Stuckey is a deliveryman at Franco's Pizza at the corner of Tulip and East Huntingdon Streets in Philadelphia's Kensington neighborhood. Here's how he described the giant fissure that spontaneously spread…

    • Street inspections: A sample city map (Image courtesy of Christoph Mertz)

Keystone Crossroads: New technology could help cities inspect and maintain streets more efficiently

Christoph Mertz spends his days looking at cracks in the street. “Once you’re involved in something like this, you see every crack in the road, every pothole, you say, ‘ohhh, this…

    • Eugene, OR

DVRPC Loosies: Roosevelt Blvd. transit analysis, solar regulatory reform, regional LED streetlight procurement

Returning briefly to our regularly scheduled non-Papal programming, there were a few updates worth noting quickly from the Delaware Valley Regional Planning Commission meeting last Thursday that were overshadowed by ex…

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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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