The great age of road-building is only beginning. By 2050, we will have added 15 million miles of new road to the planet — a 60 percent increase in four decades over our current total, amassed over the past 5,000 years. Nine-tenths of that network will be built in the developing world – in the basins of the Amazon and Congo Rivers, and the jungles of South Asia and Oceania.
KARACHI: The present pace of global urbanisation is unprecedented, with United Nations estimates indicating a near quintupling of the urban population between 1950 and 2011. By the year 2050, 75 per cent of the global population is projected to reside in cities!
In response, we have entered the age of ‘strategic planning’. Gone are the days when grand ‘City Master Plans’ were being prepared, dictated by a ‘modern era’ construct of expansion, segregation and large-scale infrastructure development. Instead we have strategic planning in which we work with what we have, innovate, conserve and simplify. We exit energy consumption, carbon emission and city expansion, eschewing the motor vehicle to travel in public transport, carpool, bike and walk. The ‘futuristic city’ is not about people flying in pods in the air but about families walking on the streets, and children playing in parks.
State and local government budget experts say the first federal government shutdown in 17 years shouldn’t be too disruptive to their operations in the short-term, but if it lasts more than a week, they could start to encounter serious challenges.
“A couple of days is a pain in the neck … but doable; nobody likes it, but it happens,” says Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers. “The longer a shutdown goes, the longer the impact it starts to have.”
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A portion of Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct is being replaced by a deep tunnel, and the machine purpose-built for the job is the world’s largest tunnel-boring machine TBM, christened “Bertha.” Built by Hitachi Zosen, the 300-foot-long doomsday machine is excavating a 57.5-foot-wide hole for a two-level highway with two lanes in each direction. Bertha has only recently arrived at the Port of Seattle and is still waiting to get off the cargo ship she rode in on.
“[I]t’s time for city leaders and citizens alike to take stock in how cities are being made, and for whom the making is focused. In fact maybe it’s time to drop the ‘livability’ gimmicks that define Willy Wonka urbanism–or to squeeze ‘the style’ out of ‘lifestyle’ so as to expose the highest priority, the highest necessity: which is life.”
“So, you wanna make your city ‘hot’? … Then cook the irons of affordable housing, mobility, education, and solid jobs.”
The ensuing devastation left an already poor and struggling nation with an incapacitated infrastructure and hundreds of thousands of people dead.
Three years later, …Haiti is no better off.
As many as 400,000 people still live in tent cities. It’s likely that UN peacekeepers inadvertently caused the country’s worst cholera epidemic in recent history. And more than half of funds pledged for reconstruction efforts remains undelivered.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The White House is weighing a far broader approach to curbing U.S. gun violence than just reinstating a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, the Washington Post reported on Sunday.
A working group led by Vice President Joseph Biden is seriously considering measures that would require universal background checks for gun buyers and track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, the newspaper said.
The measures would also strengthen mental health checks and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the Post said. The approach is backed by law enforcement leaders, it said.
President Barack Obama assigned Biden the job of designing the strategy after the massacre at a Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school last month that killed 20 children and six adults.
To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association (NRA), the powerful gun lobby.
For the people of Bayou Corne, a small community in northern Assumption Parish, the first signs of trouble appeared in late May. Streams of bubbles appeared in the water in nearby Bayou Lofourche. Then in early August a series of tremors led to the discovery of a sinkhole. Since then that hole in the ground has continued to grow along with the concerns of local residents and the officials they are looking to for answers.
Louisiana’s Assumption Parish sinkhole caused the evacuation of 150 homes in early August and continues to threaten the area with possible explosions due to methane gas pockets. Property owners have not been allowed to return home yet, and businesses are at risk.
Texas Brine Co. began burning off natural gas Friday that was trapped in a water aquifer near a sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, officials said.
This was the first time state, parish or company officials have been able to get gas to flow from four “vent wells” driven into the ground around the sinkhole in order to draw the dangerous gas out of the aquifer.
Located in the swamps between Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou south of La. 70 South, the sinkhole is more than 5½ acres in size at the surface and has prompted authorities to issue a standing evacuation order on Aug. 3 applying to 150 homes.
Fears that the trapped gas, which is colorless, odorless and potentially explosive, could accumulate to dangerous levels at the surface has further justified the evacuation order, parish officials have said.
This article appeared on September 10, 2011 in the New York Times, calling for swift action on building disaster-mitigating infrastructure such as “sea walls” around New York City, to prevent Sandy-force hurricane damage post-Irene one year before. As this article shows, one year and almost two months before Superstorm Sandy hit, storm experts were already worried about how vulnerable New York and its environs were to increasingly-violent coastal storm events, now rendered even more so in Sandy’s wake. While some planning experts are calling for 100-year planning horizons, the city had been in the process of spending more than $2 billion over the course of 18 years, clearly a drop in the needs bucket, and too late for Sandy and its aftermath just one year later.
Only a year ago, [city officials] point out, the city shut down the subway system and ordered the evacuation of 370,000 people as Hurricane Irene barreled up the Atlantic coast. Ultimately, the hurricane weakened to a tropical storm and spared the city, but it exposed how New York is years away from — and billions of dollars short of — armoring itself. “They lack a sense of urgency about this,” said Douglas Hill, an engineer with the Storm Surge Research Group at Stony Brook University, on Long Island. Instead of “planning to be flooded,” as he put it, city, state and federal agencies should be investing in protection like sea gates that could close during a storm and block a surge from Long Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean into the East River and New York Harbor.
Sadly, Hill’s words have been proven true.