Friday, October 2, 2015

If we build it, ...

INFRASTRUCTURE VISION: Infrastructure will be designed and developed in accord with the Daly triangle and the approach outined in (chapter 8 of) Indicators and Information Systems for Sustainable Development, using an integrative process with life-cycle costing. Costs will be equitably distributed among current and future users. All sectors that contribute to impairment of natural systems will be mandated to meet proportional investments in restoring the capacity of those systems. Financial feasibility will not depend on growth of the user base. Infrastructure services provided will be resilient, sustainable and not stress the local assimilative capacity of natural systems. There will be feedback loops consistent with those referenced by Meadows in Places to Intervene in a System (Information flows).

urban infrastructure, Mississippi River, Minneapolis
urban infrastructure, Mississippi River, Minneapolis
Photo by J. Harrington

There are continuing reports of how much we consistently underfund needed infrastructure improvement, maintenance and replacement. Here's a 2013 American Society of Civil Engineers overview on Minnesota's infrastructure status. It's far from a pretty picture. Congress just allowed the Land and Water Conservation Fund to lapse. We have increasing numbers of oil trains traversing major population centers and environmental impacts from inadequately designed or maintained pipelines and tailings dams. It seems to me that a good part of the problem derives from how we fund our infrastructure, our reliance on "growth," cost savings and/or profits as a basis for funding. Strong Towns covers some of those issues fairly well.

urban infrastructure, Duluth Harbor
urban infrastructure, Duluth Harbor
Photo by J. Harrington

Orion magazine has recently concluded a series of articles on Reimagining Infrastructure. It repeatedly reminded me of the planning dictum "More of the same never solved a problem."

Some of the concepts proposed in My Minnesota's systems visions show up occasionally in the blogs listed on the sidebar. Others originated from reading print resources or online materials. In this section from time to time we'll flag newer reports that, at least in part, support systems visions proposed here. If we come across any that materially undermine our proposals, we'll also note them.



(First line from the radio)
Plans for the bridge are still up in the air,
printed on the blueprint of the sky
like jet trails bending into curves that get
more graceful as they grow fainter,
until at their most exquisite they disappear
before we can get them down on paper,
our idea of the bridge always more beautiful
than anything we might actually build.
And yet there has to be a way to bring it
down to earth if we are ever going to be able
to cross from here to there, even if something
is lost in transit, because we don’t live
in some vaporous sphere but down here
where the air we breathe also makes things rust.

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