“This is stupid growth”

One of the more depressing things about reading Jane Jacobs is learning how her community rose up to stop massive projects that would have disrupted the city. That’s great for them, but it makes it all the more depressing when our communities along the Wasatch Front do nothing — or, worse, cheer on — massive boondoggles like freeway and interchange expansions.

But that isn’t always the case.

Recently in Layton a group of concerned citizens came together to oppose a proposed highway expansion in their county:

“We don’t want Utah to build a road through Farmington Bay,” Kalt said to the crowd of more than 100, citing the harm to wildlife, the increase in pollution, the cost and the community disruption. “This affects all of us.”

Hundreds of people demonstrated against plans for theWest Davis Corridor, a 24-mile, $600 million highway proposed by the Utah Department of Transportation.

Residents in Layton recently protested a highway expansion in their county.

Later, a UDOT spokesman is quoted as saying that the real question is what route the highway will take. I know the individual people at UDOT are well intentioned, but I’m left wondering if it has occurred to them that conventional highways are not the only, or even best, way to move goods and people. Or, as one of the sources in the story puts it,

“This is not smart growth,” Ingwell told the Saturday crowd. “This is stupid growth.”

 The entire thing is reminiscent, at least to me, of stories I’ve read about communities actually rising up and stopping destructive mega-projects.

I also wondered why this doesn’t happen more often. The I15 Core project, which widened the freeway, was a massive incentive for more driving. Why didn’t we all protest that? Provo’s Center Street interchange came down like a hammer on west Provo; why wasn’t there more outcry?

One reason is probably that it’s hard for any of us, myself included, to realize that there are alternatives.

But another reason is that it may also be hard to imagine that these projects actually go through our communities; the people in Layton took action when they realized that there was something very real at stake.

However, all of these projects do have a real impact on our communities. A widened freeway, for example, creates larger dead zones on either side that can’t be developed into much. I struggle to envision a scenario in which parts of west Provo recover from the interchange, and that will have lasting, negative repercussions on the entire city.

In other words, we all have something at stake when it comes to the infrastructure decisions that impact communities along the Wasatch Front. In that light, the protest in Layton will hopefully be the first of many aimed at stopping car-centric, anti-human projects.

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7 Comments

Filed under commuting, Development

7 responses to ““This is stupid growth”

  1. The fact that she was an just an everyday observer and at the end of her life was considered a visionary and expert in the field is more than inspiring. Death & Life is one of those books that makes you step back and realize that a regular person walking right next to you could be the one with the ideas that could transform a community for the better – if only applied.

  2. Logan

    If i’m understanding you correctly, I agree with you. building a super large freeway in utah is stupid. In the east where i’m from we have mostly 4 lane freeways(2 lanes going each way) until they come into large cities(and by large i do not mean provo size, i mean something 5 times the size of provo) where the freeways get more lanes on them for a short while until you get out. there is not reason to build a lane so every driver can have their own lane. Utah drivers are insane to think they can all go the same speed in ALL THE LANES!!! don’t build the highway bigger..teach people how to drive! and the twisty provo center street off ramp crap is the most ridiculous thing i have ever seen. what was the point of that? can you say “we’ve got to much money and time on our hands?” haha

    • Logan, I appreciate that you like where your from, where ever that may be. I’m sure it’s a great place. But quit bashing Provo on this blog. If you do t know why I like it read any of the literally hundreds of other post I’ve put up. You come off as an ignorant ass hole when you act like some other place is so much better. We’re all for different much bigger places; I believe in learning to love the place you live in. I have truly no idea why you are in Provo to begin with; if you hate it so much leave now. And if your a student don’t confuse the school with the city.

      As to the actual issue, freeways should get smaller when the enter cities, not larger. The interstate system is designed to link metros not to wind around inside them.

      But that’s really beside the point because you’re trolling this blog and I wish you’d stop.

  3. Logan

    wow don’t get all butt hurt of it i’m just stating the facts. and I wasn’t trying to be mean I was really interested in what you had to say about things and had been reading a lot of stuff on here. But now i see that you nothing more than another ignorant annoying utahn.

    • What response did you expect? You came on a blog that over and over states it’s affection for Provo and slammed Provo. I don’t care if you think ideas about transit or smart growth or whatever are interesting; if you write as though Provo or Utah are inherently inferior to other places then we have nothing to discuss.

      Ultimately can you really not see how what you did was offensively arrogant? Has it never occurred to you that anyone would not be interested in hearing you say their city is not really a city, or more generally that their operative assumptions are incorrect? Have you ever stopped to consider that someone might genuinely like Utah and Provo and see it as sufficiently cosmopolitan, even after living in and traveling to various other places? Surely you must see this now, right? Surely you’re seeing now that insulting something someone likes is not going to endear you to them, a few shared interests notwithstanding.

      Also, I believe it’s absurd and immature to live in a place for any amount of time and to dislike it. Either gain an appreciation or leave. You strike me as a BYU student because you are, paradoxically, living in Provo and hating it. It’s also among BYU students that I most often here variations of “well, I’m from [insert larger city] and there they…” or “Utah is so much worse than [insert place]”. These statements always baffle me, as I’ve rarely met BYU students from actual cities; most are from unwalkable suburban hellscapes just outside of big cities.

      Perhaps you are the rare exception, but you don’t write like it. And either way, it’s mindless groupthink to buy into the idea that Provo or Utah are podunk backwaters. If you want to be an interesting person who doesn’t piss off those with whom you might otherwise have interesting conversations, try thinking up something original. Reject the tired middle class attitude about Utah that you inherited from you diasporic Mormon parents.

      In any case, I’m sympathetic. I was also a BYU student, and when I first arrived didn’t like it. If my assumption is correct and you are a student, I implore you to get off campus and get involved in the community. Go rock climbing. Bike the Provo river trail. Join a band. Provo’s outdoors and music offerings are better than almost anywhere. Or, bring the world to you. When I lived in Provo I occasionally had people, including touring bands, staying at my house. It was fascinating to hear them talk about their respective cities. Something like couch surfing can make this regular occurrence. More generally, hearing visitors’ appreciation for Provo was one of the first things that made me stop and reconsider it.

      I would be proud to call myself a Utahn. Unfortunately I am from hellishly car-centric LA. Perhaps that’s why your comments pissed me off so much; I routinely deal with Californian friends and family who just assume their state is better and think its a privilege to go there. I like those people, so I try to be diplomatic with them.

      But let me be blunt here: California is a fucking nightmare and I’d rather live on a park bench in Provo than in LA. Or in a suburb in Washington, New York or anywhere else people accept, usually without question, as being “cool.”

      Obviously, if I had endless resources and and endless time there are certainly places I would live in addition to Provo. Tanger, Morocco, for instance, would be fascinating to experience as a longer term resident. If that’s where you’re from well, then, I should probably just shut the hell up. But in any case, with only one life to live, Provo has a pretty uncanny confluence of culture, per capita restaurants, infrastructure, etc. I chose to live there; you seem to held prisoner and I’m sorry your life is being wasted. (In fairness, my life is being wasted writing this comment. I realize the irony. Though I do derive pleasure in taking douchebags to the rhetorical whipping post, so many it’s not a waste.)

      Finally, you may not like me. I know that from the assumptions you’ve made in these comments and your attitude about Utah I probably wouldn’t like you. Actually, no I definitely don’t like you. But, again, to make broad statements about Utah is just baldly ignorant, bordering on bigoted. I can’t even imagine how people like you feel it’s okay to express these thoughts in public.

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