Building the World

March 18, 2016
by buildingtheworld
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8 billion hours

Traffic jam in Beijing, 2005. Image: wikimedia commons.

Americans spend 8 billion hours a year stuck in traffic. When the Federal Highway System was built, roadways did not anticipate the lure of the automobile and individual transport. China’s traffic is legendary; Beijing’s 50-lane stall resulted in a film. Aging infrastructure, bridges and roads, present both a danger and an opportunity. As transportation systems are replaced and improved, should solar highways be considered, or lanes for autonomous vehicles? What about filling stations that offer flexible fuel options including electrical charging? Will new transit forms including the Hyperloop transform commuting, reclaiming and returning those 8 billion hours?

Watch a traffic jam in Beijing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3kL6nMap2s

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

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July 9, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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Environmental (W)holiness

Pope Francis stated that protecting the environment is a moral and ethical obligation. Image: wikimedia commons.

Pope Francis has updated the list of sins; harming the environment is now of ethical, and moral, import. Environmental provisions were part of building Solomon’s Temple; Hebrew and Phoenician work teams alternated crews so that agriculture could be sustained. More recently, Boston’s Central Artery Project, known familiarly as the ‘Big Dig,’ hinged on provisions for environmental protection to qualify in part for some aspects of federal funding. When the road was placed underground (it was first called the Depressed Artery), a Greenway replaced cars with gardens, enhancing city aesthetics and oxygen. Environmental requirements and protections are increasingly part of public/private initiatives. Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra, Law 071, passed by Bolivia, and presented at the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference, defines earth as a collective subject of public interest with inherent rights. As the world prepares for the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2015 in Paris, what influence might the pope’s encyclical Laudato Si have on environmental governance and guidance? In the United States, will the address to Congress on September 24, 2015 encourage progress?

For the complete text of Laudato Sihttp://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.html

For the complete text of Pope Francis’ address to the United States Congress on September 24, 2015:

http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2015/09/24/text-of-pope-francis-address-to-congress

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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April 7, 2015
by buildingtheworld
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PanAmerican MagLev

“Ciudad de Panama de noche” image: wikimedia commons.

Cumbre de las Americas, 2015 Summit of the Americas, in the panel on “Infrastructure, Logistics and Connectivity: Bringing the Americas Together,” could inaugurate a new vision for the Pan American Highway. Planned as a railway, the route might realize its original vision, with designs by Ernst Frankel, Frank Davidson, and Elon Musk. Could the PanAmerican MagLev take inspiration from Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Vactrain? The 2015 Summit convenes in Panama, renowned for success of the Panama Canal. Should Panama propose an elevated mag-lev train to improve the environment, and unite the Americas in La Via Panamericana?

http://svc.summit-americas.org/?q=vii_mandates

http://www.oas.org/en/default.asp

https://www.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Available/E-project-101207-130034/unrestricted/IQP.pdf

http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/69842/warren-kelchner/the-pan-american-highway

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 27, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Interconnectivity: Americas

 

Simon Bolivar. Image: wikimedia commons.

Should the Americas be interconnected; if so, in which ways? Simon Bolivar raised the issue in 1826; Bill Clinton continued the debate at 1994’s Summit of the Americas, as Nafta took a further step. In 2015, is it time to consider the Pan-American Highway , perhaps inspired by its original vision? Pan-American Railway reconnaissance surveys were completed in 1897, but in 1923, the 29, 800 mile route instead became a highway. Now, with magnetic levitation and tube train technology, envisioned by Frankel and Davidson, and recently by Tesla/SpaceX-founder Elon Musk, there is an opportunity. The most difficult part of large-scale infrastructure may be the securing of rights-of-way: in this case, already agreed. The route has never been completed, respecting the Darien Gap’s precious environment. But might an elevated tube train serve as flyover? On the ground, “La Carreterra Panamericana” could thus be preserved, and even enhanced by addition of a Sportsway inspired by Benton MacKaye’s Appalachian Trail. Summit of the Americas 2015 convenes in Panama; might Juan Carlos Varela propose a new vision? Will Bolivia, named after Simon Bolivar, lead the way to an environment of greater connectivity with Law 071, “Ley de Derechos de la Madre Tierra?”

Bolivia: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2011/apr/10/bolivia-enshrines-natural-worlds-rights

Musk’s Hyperloop: http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/12/tech/innovation/hyperloop-fastest-trains/

Pan-AmericanRail:http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/69842/warren-kelchner/the-pan-american-highway

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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July 17, 2014
by buildingtheworld
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Horseless Carriages to Driverless Cars

 

Driverless Cars. Image with appreciation to Stanford University at http://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/.

In 1902, there were 17 million horses and only 23,000 cars in the United States but six years later, Henry Ford rolled the first Model T off the production line at the Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit. By 1921, 387,000 miles of paved roads transformed the United States to a driving economy. The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 continues to finance improvements, including Boston’s Big Dig. Was Henry Ford prescient in calling his invention an “auto-mobile?” Will we soon be a nation of driverless cars? Should Nafta be expanded to link autonomous smart highways from South to North, in a new Via Panam?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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October 9, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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A River (of Green) Runs Through It: Boston’s Central Artery

Boston’s Greenway. Image courtesy Wikipedia Commons.

Greenways, like the Rose Kennedy Greenway, jewel of the Central Artery in Boston, Massachusetts, offer economic, artistic and public health benefits. An urban equivalent of the Appalachian Trail, such stretches of nature bring fresh air into dense cities including Dalian China, planned to emulate Haussmann’s Paris and the Washington, D.C. of L’Enfant and Banneker. But greenways may provide another aspect of public health: disaster response routes. City centers are prone to blockage; greenways could serve as pathways to safety, and as a means of reaching critical areas. Meanwhile, these ribbons of green keep city dwellers healthy. Sunday bicyclists traversing the Paseo de Reforma, in Mexico City, could use the same route if an earthquake strikes. Might the University of Massachusetts Boston’s Center for Rebuilding Sustainable Communities after Disasters (www.umb.edu/crscad/) lead the way for an expansion of urban greenways in the world’s cities vulnerable to earthquakes?

Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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May 29, 2013
by buildingtheworld
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US Interstate: Horses to Horsepower

Wild Horses, U.S. Bureau of Land Management

More than 17 million horses shared American roads with 23,000 cars in 1903. Five years later, Henry Ford rolled the Model T off the production line in Detroit, Michigan. Soon, the phrase “horseless carriage” was in vogue (following Scottish engineer James Watt’s coining of the term “horsepower” as that unit of energy needed to lift 550 lbs 1 foot in 1 second). Inspired by Germany’s Autobahn, Dwight Eisenhower authorized the Federal Highway System on June 29, 1956. Soon, the interstate system stretched 160,093 miles (275,645 kilometers) from Maine to California, accounting for 43% of all American travel and transit. But traffic and accidents endanger roads. For these and other reasons, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency launched the DARPA Grand Challenge, a prize contest for driverless cars. In 2004, no entrant succeeded. But in 2005, Sebastian Thrun, co-inventor of Google Street View, headed a team that won by modifying a Prius with Google Driverless Technology. In 2012, Nevada became the first state to legalize driverless cars, with Florida and California racing just behind. What factors will drive the future of cars and highways?

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

 

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September 4, 2012
by zoequinn001
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A Global Interstate

The Federal Highway Administration, founded as it exists today in 1966, is part of the Department of Transportation. The FHWA helps state and local authorities “with the design, construction, and maintenance of the Nation’s highways” (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/about/). Their work doesn’t end there; the FHWA has within it a department called the “Office of International Programs” which acts as a point of contact between the FHWA and international communities with questions regarding transportation systems. In this manner a dialogue has been created to allow for improvements in the U.S. Interstate System and other roadways, as well as those around the world!

For more on the Office of International Programs, please see:
http://international.fhwa.dot.gov/outreach.cfm 

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Building the World Blog by Kathleen Lusk Brooke and Zoe G Quinn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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