Wednesday, April 7, 2010

NPR on transportation problems in Hartford

The Feb. 9 episode of NPR's Where We Live was about transportation systems and place-making in Hartford. (This was actually a rebroadcast from Jan. 11th.)

The host, Jon Dankosky, talks with community transportation activist Toni Gold about the disappearance of streetcars; suburban sprawl; a rail link between Hartford and Springfield, MA; the scourge of automobilization; and Hartford's pie in the sky: burying I-84!

Here's a great quote from Toni Gold:
"Transportation, and the circulation systems of every type, whether it's walking or trains, organizes cities and how people move around them -- and it can do that for good or for ill. We need in Hartford, for example, narrower streets, wider sidewalks, more transit, less cars, more bikes, and more pedestrians." (Sound familiar? This is a common gripe among residents, officials and planners in Stamford, too!)

And another: "You don't get street life when your streets are devoted mainly to cars."

They also talk about the proposal to bury the much-maligned I-84 Viaduct that cuts through downtown Hartford, like Boston's Big Dig (though on a much smaller scale, of course). It sounds expensive and crazy, but it's going to cost billions to maintain and/or replace it anyway, so why not do it in a way that reclaims a portion of the city above ground? Heck, a crazy planner once proposed burying the FDR Drive to reconnect Manhattanites to the waterfront!

Here are a few articles about the I-84 Viaduct: I-84's Viaduct in Hartford Needs Replacing; Hub Project Moves Ahead. It's a shame that at a certain point in time, we decided that cities were best fled from in the fastest way possible. Otherwise, we wouldn't have awful messes like this Viaduct, the BQE, and the Cross-Bronx.

A great discussion ensues at about the 34:00 mark when David Lee, the general manage of CTTransit, calls in regarding Hartford's current bus system and compares it to possible streetcars. He asks whether we can accomplish the same thing with rubber tires that some people want to do with steel wheels.

Here's the Where We Live episode page. Here's the Where We Live blog page, with further details and commentary. Here's the MP3 of the episode.

The March 18th show was about smart growth in Portland, OR, and the April 5th show was about "the suburb of the future," but those are for another blog entry!

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