Friday, February 11, 2011

Does Road Construction Affect the Sustainability of a City?

Graph of CO2 emissions by city for the year 19...
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Towards Sustainable Transport in Ottawa: An End to Road Construction (10 page pdf, Ecology Ottawa, July 8, 2010)

The article under review today urges those competing for election to municipal office in Canada’s capital city to implement a moratorium on road construction, as a step in making Ottawa more sustainable.

Key Quotes:

“Dealing with transport by reducing reliance on the private automobile and shifting to public transit, cycling and walking, is one of the most important parts of making Ottawa sustainable.“

“Council plans to spend $1.5 billion on road construction and widening between 2008-20171, while the budget in 2009 for public transit was $133m“

“Road construction .. consumption of large quantities of oil (the main ingredient in most forms of asphalt) ..hardcore which requires quarrying..a hard surface which increases water run-off and reduces absorption by the soil, increasing flooding problems. It also creates run-off of toxic chemicals such as heavy metals copper and zinc into water…contributes much to the “urban heat island effect

“Transport accounts for 33% of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions, and it is the fastest growing source of emissions“

“Low-density suburban development, which extensive road-construction makes possible, also enables .. large area single family homes which consume far more resources .. than denser urban buildings focused on duplexes, row housing and apartments.. the 58% of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions that comes from buildings is substantially affected by transport policy in the City.“

“if we are to pursue sustainability seriously, congestion for car drivers needs to get worse, while for other transport modes congestion needs to reduce.“

“building sprawling suburbs of car-centred development is expensive... houses inside the greenbelt pay on average $1035 more in taxes than the cost of providing them services, while urban houses outside the greenbelt pay $70 less than they cost the City”
” A moratorium on road construction .. is not going to create this sustainable Ottawa on its own. It has to be combined in particular with a radical reorientation of the planning system towards creating a high-density city.”
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