Home > Design the Details, Economics, Videos > A Road or a Street? One is a Liability, the Other is an Asset

A Road or a Street? One is a Liability, the Other is an Asset

Video Tuesday

Chuck Marohn of Strong Towns via 

There’s a difference between a road and a street, and we are building far too many of the former in our communities. And as a result, according to Marohn, “we are no longer able to capture the value [of a healthy community or place] because so much of the space is turned into parking lots and the development just flees. It just disappears. And you wind up with space that is financially, incredibly unproductive.

On the Reading List

Quick Summary of video: the last 60 year experiment in infrastructure spending is economically unsustainable. Post WWII we quickly became addicted to the notion of new, more and bigger. We now find ourselves sitting on a Ponzi Growth Scheme (Strong Towns) of suburban concrete that we can not afford to maintain. We now build roads instead of networks of activity. Over the years, an addiction to building homes further and further away from services and a myopic, insatiable approach to road capacity for single users has led to higher legacy costs through maintenance, debt and environmental mitigation. The promise was that this would pay for itself with an ever-increasing tax base , or particularly for the latter, we might just ignore it. The problem, according to Marohn, is that too often communities have spent tomorrow’s promise to simply maintain past construction. Instead, here and in previous writings, he argues that communities need  “resilience, not growth.” (ST)

Strong Town’s recently released booklet, Curbside Chat Companion Booklet, dives into this material more substantially and is on my reading list. The title is named after their traveling community presentation & discussion.

Last year, MyWHaT applied Strong Towns’ 10-step action program to address the economic effectiveness of Traverse City in a two-part post titled “City Gov. Effectiveness With Placemaking & Resiliency In Mind

This might be useful information for tonight’s candidate forum at the Opera House that begins at 6:30pm.


If you read something here that makes you go, “uh-huh, that’s right” consider donating to the cause. It is appreciated. 

Keep the Wheels Turning

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