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That dialectic is mostly of your own making. In fact I bet most in the 'urban' camp today are also proponents of a regional transit system such as SEPTA provides for SE PA.. Which if we had anything similar here we might get higher transit usage, and more development I would presume, in our suburban counties. I'm also not sure its fair to say anti-sprawl and pro-suburb are as opposed as you imply. You can have compact development that is not necessarily city-centric.

but I did say mostly. I can't really say this is more than passed down oral history. But I was told once that the design of the Squirrel Hill tunnel and Parkway in general was limited with some idea that it was not such a good idea to encourage people to live far from the city. Sounds a little revisionist to me and would bet it was built to spec for the period it was built.

Sam M


Well said.

I agree that the dialectic I propose is problematic, to say the least. In reality, the camps in question are home to a wide variety of interests, many of which are in line. Some of which are not.

It reminds me of my time in Washington, DC. As a libertarian, I was generally lumped in with "the Right." Which mainly manifested itself in the meetings and parties to which I got invited. One of my weekly stops was Grover Norquist's famous (or infamous) "Wednesday Meetings." I would sit there and watch peole from Cato sit down next to people from Phyllis Schlafley's Eagle Forum. Hard-core isolationists sit down next to neocons. People who were in it to fight abortion sitting next to people who were in it to build a missile defense shield. And I thought, "Geez, what kind of coalition is this?"

But it managed to remain one. Until about... oh... right now. I would love to go to one of the meetings today, if they are still having them. I think they are.

Like I said, I think a lot of this same dynamic plays out in most debates. And particularly in the transit/sprawl/cities discussion. All of which are related but separate issues. And all of which attract different advocates for different reasons. You have people who are "for transit" because they see it as the environmentally friendly choice. You have people who don't give a crap about the environment, but just want to get to work. You have people who prefer cities as a lifestyle choice. Others who live in the birbs, but want everyone else to live in the city because they don't want people crowding them out of the good school districts. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Which is all just a different way to make the observation about strange bedfellows.

Ed Heath

Is this an issue that can successfully be addressed at the county level? If so, let's do it, build whatever coalition needed. But I think we've all but given up on local solutions, maybe because we decided the suburbs had already exercised their veto power, and we are saying transit has to be addressed at the state level. What sort of coalition do we need for that?

The piece in today’s PG on congestion zones is interesting and frustrating at the same time. This past spring I commuted after work from CMU to the South Side after work for a part time job. I would cross the 10th street bridge and turn at whatever street is parallel to Carson, sail to my destination (the Terminal Building) and park on the largely deserted streets. For this, the authors of this piece are suggesting I should pay? I can see downtown as a congestion zone, because most streets do fill up. I can see the strip, because Liberty, Penn and Smallman get busy (as well as 28). But the problems on the Southside seem to me to start and end with Carson Street, which motorists seem to stick to like glue. By the way, that implies no one would want to ride the light rail system as they propose it, not unless it branched toward stops on Carson. No one wants to walk five blocks from a light rail station to Carson. It also needs to cross the river to Oakland. Maybe the Hot Metal Bridge construction could be modified for the light rail.

No, I’m not anti-walking, I just suspect that most other Pittsburghers are anti-walking and pro-convenience. Since the cost of making the light rail system convenient would be prohibitive, I can’t see anyone funding it. On the other hand, money was sunk into Skybus.

Sam M

I guess, at least in the Philly case, one might try to form an interesting suburb/city coalition. Not along environmental or cultural lines. I am talking about one between suburbanites eager to protect their home values (and jobs) joining forces with urban folks eager to ease congestion and use city parking areas for better things.

I guess such a coalition could exist. Strange bedfellows, and all that. And maybe it already does.

Sam, They are not "strange bed fellows". I think Philly's core suburbs developed along and because of the rail lines first.

Jonathan Potts

Chicago produced a lot of "street-car suburbs" as well.

Jonathan Potts

Chicago produced a lot of "street-car suburbs" as well.

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