Archive for the ‘Infrastructure’ Category

[ Words ]

June 30th, 2011

via the [ Washington Note ]

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people…

- President Eisenhower, Chance for Peace Speech
April 16,1953

Thomas Adaptive Reuse, Infrastructure, International, Misc, National, Ways of Seeing, What I am Looking at

[ Infrastructure ] Tar Sands

December 2nd, 2010

via [ Vancouver Media Co-op ] “The Whole World is Downstream - Community members say negative impacts of the tar sands have a global reach” By Sandra Cuffe

Community members impacted by tar sands development came together in Edmonton this weekend to make it explicit that the tar sands isn’t just an issue in Alberta, or even just in Canada. Climate justice activists have long made the point that the tar sands are a leading driver of emissions worldwide.

But in addition to changing the climate, the direct impacts of tar sands extraction are already making themselves felt across the globe. Even though the principle extraction area is in Alberta, transportation and refining of tar sands oil is touching the lives of people from Madagascar to B.C. to Trinidad.

The community of Fort Chipewyan is located approximately 250km downstream from biggest tar sands projects near Fort McMurray. Because of its proximity to what some call the tar sands gigaproject, folks in Fort Chipewyan have felt the impacts of the tar sands on ecosystems, health, and communities, and their people have been on the front lines, fighting back hard.
“Fort Chipewyan has been at the forefront of this challenge,” said former Mikisew Cree First Nation Chief George Poitras, adding that the name of the community is now synonymous with resistance to the tar sands. ”We’ve made a lot of progress on making the tar sands an international issue,” said Poitras.

Due in large part to the outspoken resistance by Fort Chipewyan, other Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities now have more information and case studies to defend their own lands from the onslaught of the tar sands giga-project. Actual and proposed pipelines, refineries, and ports designed to transport tar sands oil from Alberta to destinations around the world crisscross the continent.

“One of the reasons we’re fighting so much is because of what’s happening there [in Fort Chipewyan],” explained Toghestiy, a hereditary chief from the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in north central British Columbia.

There is clear vocal opposition to the five pipelines proposed for construction through the 22,000 square kilometers of unceded Wet’suwet’en territory. grassroots Indigenous resistance has been a thorn in the side of Enbridge’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline that would transport oil from the tar sands to the coastal port of Kitimat, BC, in order to facilitate its export to Asia.

At the end of the pipelines are the refineries, which can have serious consequences for local residents. Visual artist and former urban planner Thomas Frank discussed the impacts of a BP refinery project in East Chicago, in northwestern Indiana.

Using his own research, Frank showed maps of East Chicago, with small pockets of neighbourhoods steeped in steel worker culture surrounded by a myriad of industrial projects, from steel mills to oil refineries. The poverty-ridden core communities, principally made up of Puerto Ricans, Mexicans, and African-Americans, live between smokestacks, toxic waste sites, and the Indiana Harbor Shipping Channel, which is considered the most contaminated waterway in the United States.

“This is a serious environmental justice issue that accumulates wealth and benefits in one location while clustering risks and blights in another,” said Frank.Ninety percent of the water in the Channel consists of wastewater from industry and sewage, explained Frank, adding that Indiana discharges 33% more toxins into waterways than any other state. The sheer quantity of toxic discharges in Indiana, with 6.4 million people, amounts to more than the last 26 states combined, the latter representing over 100 million inhabitants.

BP was cited in 2009 for releasing multiple times the permitted level of benzene in a period spanning six years. Permits issued to the company also allowed for 1600 pounds of ammonia to be released into Lake Michigan per day, in clear violation of the Clean Water Act. In fact, explained Frank, BP moved its training facilities from the area to Illinois, citing concerns about “quality of life” issues for the company’s professionals.

Priya Ganness-Nanton, a community organizer from the Rights Action Group in Trinidad and Tobago, told the story of successful community struggle against an aluminum mill in the country. Ganness-Nanton hopes to take the lessons from the long history of struggle in Trinidad and use them to fight the tar sands exploitation recently announced by the government.

“In February of 2009, Minister of Energy Conrad Enill announced that the bitumen should be extracted using Canada’s experience as a model,” wrote Macdonald Stainsby of Oil Sands Truth in an article written after a visit to Trinidad earlier this year.
Other conference participants shared information about places where companies are planning to exploit tar sands deposits. Ashley Anderson of Peaceful Uprising in Utah talked about their resistance to Calgary-based Earth Energy Resources’ plan to develop tar sands deposits near Moab, in an area well-known and well-visited for its natural beauty. Macdonald Stainsby explained about corporate plans to develop tar sands deposits in Madagascar, Morocco, and a joint project between Jordan and Israel.
Videos of all of the presentations made on Saturday, dedicated to community reports from Fort Chipewyan to Trinidad, are available for viewing online. Sandra Cuffe has been reporting from the fourth annual Everyone’s Downstream conference in Edmonton for the Vancouver Media Co-op.

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, Energy, Infrastructure, International, Tar Sands

{ Infrastructure } With Rachel Maddow

June 2nd, 2010

How We Move Through The World

May 31st, 2010

East Chicago: A Ninetieth Century Battlefield

April 27th, 2010

Sometimes it takes a disaster like the Earth Day Disaster to realize our hometowns and our future have been colonized.

Thomas BP / TAR SANDS, East Chicago Portrait Series, Economics, Energy, Environment, Infrastructure, Political Economy

Cost / Benefit: Parking

May 21st, 2009

Spatial Costs

via [The Daily Dish ] by Richard Florida

Image via SUNY Stonybrook Department of Geosciences (h/t: Ian Swain, Martin Prosperity Institute). This poster, courtesy of the city of Muenster, Germany, illustrates the different amounts of space taken up by different kinds of transit.

  • Bicycle - 90 sq. m for 71 people to park their bikes.
  • Car - 1000 sq. m for 72 people to park their cars (avg. occupancy of 1.2 people per car).
  • Bus - 30 sq m for the bus.

The Daily Dish

Thomas Case Studies, Infrastructure, Urbanism

Urbanphile Essays

April 26th, 2009

I would like to direct readers to series of lengthy posts by Aaron M. Renn at Urbanphile. I am curious how well his thoughts hold up from a marginalized point-of-view. 

Chicago: A Declaration of Independence

Chicago: Reconnecting the Hinterland
Part 1A - Metropolitan Connections
Part 1B - High Speed Rail
Part 2A - Onshore Outsourcing
Part 2B - On Innovation

Thomas Chicago, Infrastructure, Northwest Indiana

Infrastructure: High Speed Rail

April 26th, 2009

Despite differences in perspective and policy, there is a relatively strong consensus for High Speed Rail in the Midwest. Again, I am an advocate for high speed rail and an advocate for marginalized communities like Gary and East Chicago, which are often asked to carry the burden of negative externalities. 

1) Midwest High Speed Rail Corridors

There’s been a lot of talk in recent years about the idea of creating a Midwest high speed rail network. The federal government has already designated a system of Midwest rail corridors. There’s a lobbying organization pushing it called the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. A host of environmental groups support it. I even had a (successful) mini-effort to get Louisville included in the Midwest network.

Read More from Urbanophile



2) High-Speed Frenzy [ Wall Street Journal ]

Spain’s ambitious plans by Thomas Catan

…the country is on track to bypass France and Japan to have the world’s biggest network of ultrafast trains by the end of next year

- Read more

Thomas Infrastructure, Urbanism

High Speed Rail

March 27th, 2009

According to the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Thomas Infrastructure


March 22nd, 2009

Via [ Infranet Lab ]

Infrastructure for everyone! – not so fast.

[Money for Public Projects] The New York Times

With the global economy in recession and unemployment levels rising, elected leaders throughout the world are turning to infrastructure projects as a way to put thousands of people back to work.

With this massive forthcoming investment we just had to investigate what’s likely to come down the infrastructure pipeline.  It turns out however, that what me be coming our way are not exactly the forward-looking interventions we are hoping for.  In fact, the stimulus packages proposed potentially threaten the exact projects we should want to succeed.

This risk is a direct result of our current economic situation.  In order for the stimulus to stimulate things need to happen relatively quickly.  Thus, a tension exists between doing things well and doing things quickly.

Unfortunately, federal governments don’t have the best reputation when it comes to spending wisely on infrastructure. In a recent New York Times article “Piling up Monuments of Waste”, David Leonhardt claims:

It’s hard to exaggerate how scattershot the current system is. Government agencies usually don’t even have to do a rigorous analysis of a project or how it would affect traffic and the environment, relative to its cost and to the alternatives — before deciding whether to proceed. 

<Reality Check>
In one recent survey of local officials, almost 80 percent said they had based their decisions largely on politics, while fewer than 20 percent cited a project’s potential benefits.
</Reality Check> 

Road and highway construction is one apparent category of infrastructure spending where politics threatens to trump utility. The Brookings Institution directs our attention at U.S. roads as being and potential investment with a high ROI. The proposed investment needs to distance itself from politically driven projects that lead to things like underused highways in western Pennsylvania, and instead focus on alleviating the financial losses in major US centers due to road congestion.

[Clogged Arteries]

…the places that are most critical to the country’s economic competitiveness don’t get what they need. The nation’s 100 largest metropolitan regions generate 75 percent of its economic output. They also handle 75 percent of its foreign sea cargo, 79 percent of its air cargo, and 92 percent of its air-passenger traffic. Yet of the 6,373 earmarked projects that dominate the current federal transportation law, only half are targeted at these metro areas.

“Clogged Arteries”, Bruce Katz and Robert Puentas, The Atlantic

Ok.  So this is one tangible project.  We’ll keep looking for more.  Hopefully the next one we find will not only offer hard-data by analyzing effect vs. cost (also known as value) but also move beyond the shovel-ready standards rooted in the 1950s fossil fuel paradigm – something that we may lose sight of during this infrastructure spending spree

Thomas Case Studies, Infrastructure