In 2007, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed congestion pricing for Manhattan. The state legislature rejected the plan. Fifteen years later, we’re still debating the idea, fiddling while the planet burns.
The newest problem is that a new environmental study and traffic model from the MTA, The Central Business District Tolling Program Environmental Assessment, says that what’s good for 1.63 million residents of Manhattan and the planet, in general, will increase the pollution in the already unhealthy air in the Bronx. Yes, that’s a problem. Turning the perfect into the enemy of the good is also a problem. We need a plan that benefits all.
Various cities have been experimenting with wavering fees for public transport in an effort to promote sustainable mobility, alleviate traffic congestion and decrease social inequality. This past February, Salt Lake City has paused fare collection for a month to reduce carbon emissions in the region. At the end of March, the Italian city of Genoa extended free access to some of its public transport networks, following a successful experiment which began at the end of 2021 and in an ambitious plan to become the first Italian city with free transportation. Meanwhile, the small duchy of Luxembourg became the world’s first country with free public transit in 2020.
Can a piece of infrastructure literally kill a city? This is the question that writer Jim Krueger poses in his recent podcast, The Road That Killed a City. The place in question is Krueger’s current hometown—Hartford, Connecticut—which he grew up next to in the leafy suburb of West Hartford. Kruerger has lived in both towns, and that helps to balance the amazing story he uncovers about how Connecticut’s capital was impaled by a roadway (actually, two: east/west I-84 and north/south I-91 converge in Hartford in a sort of arterial highway ground zero). I spoke with Krueger about what prompted the podcast, some of what he uncovered about the history of this ill-fated urban “improvement,” and the legacy of a highway that continues to thwart Hartford’s rebirth—an inheritance shared by many cities across North America.
https://www.archdaily.com/981425/did-a-highway-kill-the-city-of-hartfordMichael J. Crosbie
Over the past two decades, urban highways' social and economic ramifications have been brought into focus as a large part of this mid-century infrastructure comes to the end of its lifespan, prompting conversations over its role in contemporary urban planning. Freeway removal entails the replacement of the transport infrastructure with new urban developments, green amenities and alternative street grids to promote a healthier urban environment and smart growth. In some cases, the idea of removing highways is met with concern over the potential increase in traffic and gentrification of the areas adjacent to the road, but the pandemic has further exacerbated the need for quality public spaces and brought once again into question the hegemony of the car. The following highlights various highway removal projects, discussing how these interventions restore the urban fabric, reknit communities and recover urban spaces for city dwellers.
15-minute cities are a trending urban planning topic that has long been discussed academically and is now slowly being implemented across existing cities in Europe. But now, the first 15-minute city is being designed and built from scratch in Utah. Dubbed “The Point”, the new 600-acre city will be located just outside Salt Lake City, and will be a redeveloped former state prison site where new jobs, housing, public spaces, amenities, and transportation will serve almost 15,000 people in an attempt to explore a prototype for how innovative urban planning concepts can improve the public health and wellness.
Aedas has won an international competition to design Shenzhen's new Qingshuihe Comprehensive Transportation Hub in a joint venture with China Railway Siyuan Survey and Design Group Co., LTD and Shenzhen Urban Transport Planning Center Co., LTD. The master plan draws inspiration from the natural environment of the area, integrating nature and water elements into the high-density city to build a unique new emblem for Qingshuihe. The underground compact hub releases large above-ground spaces which will feature urban terraces, offices, five-star hotels, first-rate apartments, science and technology exhibition halls, and other facilities.
Early last week, the European Commission and the Fundació Mies van der Rohe announced the 40 shortlisted projects of the EU Mies Award, a prize that commends excellence in architecture, highlighting its contribution to sustainable development. In this context, and two years after the European Parliament voted to support the Green Deal, we review the steps taken by the EU in 2021 towards achieving its sustainability goals and shaping a resilient built environment.
Following California's Covid-19 health regulations in early 2020, Metro, the Los Angeles public transit agency stopped collecting fares on its busses as a safety precaution measure. However, the company's decision turned into the United States' biggest free-transit experiment, as ridership never dipped below 50 percent, even with the stay-at-home orders enforced by the government. Following 22 months of the decision and around 281 million fare-free transits, the company has decided to restart collecting fares, but is planning on using the information gathered throughout these two years to implement future improvements and introduce other free or reduced-fare programs in the city.
Volksentscheid Berlin Autofrei (People’s Decision for Auto-Free Berlin), has proposed a plan to limit cars within Berlin's Ringbahn, a long circle route around the inner city, making it the world's largest car-free area once approved. The citizen-initiative is aimed mostly at banning the use of private cars in central Berlin, with the exception of emergency vehicles, garbage trucks, taxis, delivery vehicles, and residents with limited mobility, who would all be given special access permits.
As part of Milan's ongoing vision of bicycle-friendly highways, the Metropolitan Council of Milanhas approved its Biciplan “Cambio” project, a new transportation system that introduces "super-cycle" corridors across the urban fabric, prioritizing cycling, environmental protection, safety, and wellbeing. The project aims to compliment existing cycle paths with 750 kilometers of new corridors that will connect the city's 133 communes with its wider metropolitan area, and increase the amount of bicycle trips and reach by 10% internally and 20% on a greater scale.
In December, the European Commission adopted several proposals that put the transport sector on track for a 90% reduction in carbon emissions, moving a step further in implementing the European Green Deal. The initiatives seek to increase rail transport, encouraging long-distance and cross-border rail travel, support the roll-out of charging points for electric vehicles and alternative refuelling infrastructure and further develop multimodality.
New York Governor Kathy Hochul announced last week that the current and former sites of Terminals 1, 2, and 3 on the south side of John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens will be redeveloped to make way for a $9.5 billion international terminal that will be built out in phases beginning next year. With the first of its 23 gates anticipated to go live in 2026, the 2.4-million-square-foot newTerminal One will rank as the largest at JFK and, per a news release from the Governor’s Office, “aspires to be among the top-rated airport terminals in the world.”
The rise of electric scooter fleets in cities around the globe happened almost overnight. By making transportation fun, they quickly took over a new market share and provided not only an easy way to travel but one that also prides itself in being sustainable. First becoming popular on the West Coast of the United States, scooters migrated eastward, eventually sweeping across Europe as well. Easy to maneuver and a convenient solution to get from place to place, we have to ask- can cities handle the accelerating rise of scooters and other forms of micromobility?
J. Mayer H. has won a competition to design the new façade of Cologne Main Station on Breslauer Platz in Germany. The design proposal frames the sides of the rail station with an all-around façade that offers an innovative use of space by making the best of the site's circulation and natural resources. The intervention will feature rooftop landscaping with local flowers and greenery, rainwater collection, protection from rain, wind, and sunlight, and a visual emphasis on the station's points of access.
"Deck parks are increasingly in vogue in the Southwest’s downtown cores but aren’t a good fit for El Paso," writes Sito Negron. Recently a lot of cities around the world have been rethinking urban spaces dedicated to transportation, introducing public areas over highways while expanding the vehicular realm. In this week's reprint from the Architect's Newspaper, the author explores the limits of this trend and questions its implementation in some cases.
MAD Architects has just unveiled its design for the “Train Station in the Forest.” Under construction and scheduled for completion by July 1st, 2021, the project is located in the center of Jiaxing, in southeast China, in close proximity to Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Suzhou. Covering an area of 35.4 hectares, the intervention consists of rebuilding the historic station while creating a new infrastructural annex underground. It also includes the creation of plazas to the north and south and the rehabilitation of the adjacent People’s Park.
The pandemic provided a unique circumstance for city-scale experiments regarding mobility, while immediate responses showed the transformative power of tactical urbanism. In many cities, the measures meant to ensure social distancing are to be kept in place post-pandemic, paving the path towards recovery with less traffic and more outdoor activities. How did the pressure of rethinking streets, functions, and transportation systems transform public space in 2020?