Transit missteps leave us trapped

September 29, 2005|By DOUGLAS E. MORRIS

WASHINGTON -- As images from Rita and Katrina showed, American cities are strategically vulnerable to evacuation in times of crisis. Residents get stuck in traffic and run out of gas, grinding any mass departure to a standstill.

What makes this situation so ironic is that the interstate system that Congress bought in the late 1950s was intended to enhance the evacuation potential of American cities during the threat of nuclear attack in the Cold War. This boondoggle of one-dimensional transportation was sold to Congress by a cartel of oil, automobile, bus, road construction and finance companies. But since the end of the 1950s, transportation officials have pointed out that without alternate forms of transport, not only would emergency evacuation plans be stymied but so would all forms of mobility as well. Which is just what has happened.

s a Sprawl World After All. He lives in Washington.

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