Greater City Providence

News & Notes

A Preservationist’s Dilemma [Old Urbanist]

The use of historic preservation to preserve not only architecture, but the urban form itself, is not a new development. The National Register of Historic Places and municipal organizations have been listing and protecting entire neighborhoods, many of them consisting of low-density single-family detached residential homes, for decades now, the only change being that the National Register’s 50-year rolling cutoff for historic eligibility has lately encompassed the equally low-density but less architecturally noteworthy suburbs of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Philadelphia Takes a Revolutionary Approach to Stormwater [This Big City]

The current water system combines stormwater storage and sewerage. During periods of heavy rainfall it overflows, causing sewerage to flow through streets and into the Delaware and Schuylkill Rivers. The project will replace as much as one-third of the city’s existing impervious cover – about 4,000 acres – with natural or porous surfaces that can intercept stormwater, store it, and then release it at a controlled rate.

Seeing cities as the environmental solution, not the problem [Switchboard]

For a long time, America’s environmental community celebrated wilderness and the rural landscape while disdaining cities and towns. Thoreau’s Walden Pond and John Muir’s Yosemite Valley were seen as the ideal, while cities were seen as sources of dirt and pollution, something to get away from. If environmentalists were involved with cities at all, it was likely to be in efforts to oppose development, with the effect of making our built environment more spread out, and less urban.

We’ve come a long way since then, if still not far enough. We were and remain right to uphold nature, wildlife and the rural landscape as places critical to celebrate and preserve. But what we realize now, many of us anyway, is that cities and towns […] are really the environmental solution, not the problem…

A Plan to Save U.S. Infrastructure That Might Actually Work [The Infrastructurist]

If there’s anything America has in abundance right now, it’s reports on the poor state of the country’s infrastructure. But the Congressional showdown over the transportation reauthorization bill will peak in the next few weeks, and a betting man (we’re looking at you, A-Rod) would be wise to take the over on the number of similar reports that will surface by late September.

In Auto Test in Europe, Meter Ticks Off Miles, and Fee to Driver [The New York Times]

Supporters of the meters contend that the charges are more equitable than current taxes like automobile purchase and registration fees, because they derive from actual use rather than mere ownership. If imposed, they could supplant gas and vehicle taxes as well as tolls. Governments could program computers to require consistent gas guzzlers to pay higher rates, for example.

Distance charging also provides a means of replacing declining revenues from gasoline taxes as more people drive highly efficient, hybrid or electric cars, helping governments that have traditionally depended on gas taxes for road upkeep.

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