The New Republic has a piece of Mitt Romney’s latent urbanism. I found this paragraph noteworthy:
Then there was the day Romney and Foy were together at a ribbon-cutting for a traffic-calming project and Romney started lamenting that Salt Lake City’s streets were too wide because they were designed in the days of wagon trains that needed to be able to turn around. “He thought that that was a problem and that New England had thankfully not had wagon trains, so its streets were more tightly knit … and more pedestrian-friendly,” Foy remembers.
Though Salt Lake City is not pedestrian friendly, the wide berth of its city streets is perhaps one of the greatest strengths of the SLC auto transit system. It’s absolutely amazing. One of those anachronisms that proved the city particularly well-suited for the age of the automobile. That’s not to say that there isn’t significant traffic downtown, but (a) it’s still considerably better than most places I’ve been and (b) due to the fact that all of the streets are so wide, it’s remarkably easy to avoid the worst spots. Or was when I was driving down there regularly. The freeway system is nothing but headaches. I look forward to getting off the interstate and onto the city streets. There aren’t many places I would say that about. At all.
To deal with the increasing downtown traffic, though, they’re doing something rather neat with the busier areas in order to cut down on left-hand turns (h/t Abel). They show a sign for the “thruturns” and I swear that I have actually seen it before but didn’t know what it meant. Now I know! It’s a pretty great concept, where you get to take a protected u-turn away from the congested intersection. It’s the exact sort of thing I do on a pretty regular basis when I can’t get to the right lane in time, except it’s implemented into the system.
Colorado tried something interesting where they sped everybody up by keeping and enforcing a 55mph speedlimit. By enforcing, I don’t mean straw-picking to get a ticket, but rather police cars out there actually making sure nobody is going faster than 55. If the age of antcars ever come, this should prove to be a real timesaver.
The Atlantic endorses congestion pricing. I am actually sympathetic, though tired of hearing about how “increasing the size of freeways doesn’t speed traffic up.” It’s not true anecdotally, and arguably not true at all or at least not true in any universal sense.