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The Future They Forsaw. Buses Until a Million Citizens

The following article, published in the Winter of 1967, describes the planning and opinions of Alan W. Voorhees report on Transportation. Voorhees plans were adopted by the city consequently, and this article gives insight into the DNA of transit planning for the past 50 years. Sometimes keen, sometimes alarmingly thickheaded, the report was nonetheless the cornerstone of all our policy since then. Join us as we parse this plan, its successes and failures, what parts we would have changed and kept, and how to go forward now. These essays were commissioned by Eve Heaney, the brilliant and surprising female Editor of Jacksonville Magazine, which was, (and still is) the publication of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce.

Published April 12, 2012 in History      33 Comments    Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article


feature

Whatever Happened to Those Wide Open Spaces?

In the last two issues of Jacksonville, articles on Area Planning attempted to update public knowledge of what has happened to our Jacksonville in the last 35 years.

We learned how a depression and then a fantastic growth during the war years shelved the Planning manuscripts.  Like most communities, Jacksonville was so busy 'filling orders' to help new residents and industries become a part of our pleasant way of life, that little thought was given to formal planning of any kind.  When planning was mentioned, nobody wanted to make waves.

That isn't true today in Jacksonville.  Since 1961, when the Duval County Legislative Delegation and the Florida Legislature and the Florida Legislature passed  a law setting up the Jacksonville Duval Area Planning Board, a gradual excitement about planning has built up until today (with Jacksonville assuming the role of Florida's largest city) more people are getting involved than ever before.

Their sights are not short, either. "We must be thinking 50 years ahead right now ---not 20 or 25 years" they declare.  And they've enlisted help too.

Transportation.

Jacksonville is a major transportation center in the southeast.  What can we do to improve transportation?  Significant projections are made for ways of moving goods and people in the next 50 years.

Planning authority Alan W. Voorhees whose transportation consultant firm is in McLean, Va., is assigned to this phase of planning.  Among his findings:

"All downtown areas in cities are shrinking.  With only 20 to 25 percent of all people working in downtown, its function is shifting from manufacturing wholesaling and retailing toward the economic activities of management and finance.

"Because the big population growth is coming in the suburbs, most of our service oriented industry is attracted to secondary centers which spring up to serve these people.

"All this change results in a new concept of road patterns and modes of transportation.  The highway into town has lost its importance.

"Today, Jacksonville people are making a total of a million trips a day in the area.  Only 3% of these trips utilize mass transportation systems.  A million more trips are made daily through the area.  Traffic concentrates in the city's center, although only about 10% is destined for downtown.  The rest is cross town traffic.  This traffic pattern wastes time.  We're going to do something about this."  says Voorhees.

"Gridirons of roads are the most effective means of providing road service to homes.  We'll see an interlinking of communities with cross town feeders to serve dispersed traffic patterns.  The result will be less roads ad more open spaces.

"We're planning expressway expansions now.  We're planning for several new expressways, both north and south to feed the potential development to the north and east of the downtown and we may provide two cross river systems as port and industrial expansion follows the river north and eastward.

"Also, we're suggesting an expressway just inside the Beaches development as a North South facility to prevent the number one problem which exists in the Broward Dade County areas and could develop at our shore.

"A by-pass rail system just outside of and to the west of I-295 to get big train movements outside the congested areas may be set up to serve the expected industrial development along our present system.

"As you can see, we are getting a marked change from today's traffic patterns.

Mass Transit Systems.

"Until we are at least 1,000,000 population (about 1990), " Voorhees says, "the bus system is the only way to move people at a reasonable cost.  Right now we must concentrate on improving this system of bus transportation service, extending routes, stepping up frequency and greatly expanding direct cross town routes.

"Meantime for the next 20 years we can be thinking about reserving right of way for future systems.  First we must crystallize planning.  A right of way that looks good now might not look so good in terms of tomorrow's growth.  A study now will result in better forecasting of traffic and a savings in rights of way acquisitions.

"Several needs are obvious, however.  When appropriate, we ought to get  a downtown to Beaches route and a connection to the new airport.  We'll also need them along expressways as they are developed.

"In essence, we have tried to lay out a system of land, bus, rail, and air transportation that will move people fast, efficiently and economically and will at the same time serve land areas as they are developed."  Voorhees concludes.  We believe you people are proud of your wide open spaces your serene vistas and your magnificent trees.  Good planning now can save them for everybody's enjoyment.


Article and Transcription by Stephen Dare.







33 Comments

lindab

July 14, 2009, 07:55:26 AM
I really appreciate this article since I have wondered for years about the origins of that particular mantra about no transit until the magic density number is reached.

mtraininjax

July 14, 2009, 08:26:20 AM
Wow, people inhabited downtown at one time....

Dog Walker

July 14, 2009, 08:31:36 AM
Well this area is now over the magic million mark so lets get started with the streetcars and commuter rail!  Hurray!  We've made it!

cline

July 14, 2009, 08:32:42 AM
Jacksonville Mag is not published by the CoC.

stephendare

July 14, 2009, 09:56:58 AM
Quote
.Mass Transit Systems.

"Until we are at least 1,000,000 population (about 1990), " Voorhees says, "the bus system is the only way to move people at a reasonable cost.  Right now we must concentrate on improving this system of bus transportation service, extending routes, stepping up frequency and greatly expanding direct cross town routes.

"Meantime for the next 20 years we can be thinking about reserving right of way for future systems.  First we must crystallize planning.  A right of way that looks good now might not look so good in terms of tomorrow's growth.  A study now will result in better forecasting of traffic and a savings in rights of way acquisitions.

"Several needs are obvious, however.  When appropriate, we ought to get  a downtown to Beaches route and a connection to the new airport.  We'll also need them along expressways as they are developed.
This is exactly what we did.

Its amazing really, how we got exactly what we planned for.

As I noticed in all the Eve Heaney articles, on things stands out.  The really did plan what happened, they were just working in a new and developing field, and they had no way of seeing some of the outcomes.

Lunican

July 14, 2009, 10:01:12 AM
The exact same things are being said today, which is discouraging because it has amounted to absolutely nothing being done to improve mass transit. We've been "thinking about" reserving right of way for 50 years now.

stjr

July 14, 2009, 12:36:48 PM
This article appears to me to be a coded message for planting the seed for the Dames Point Bridge (servicing the "north and east" areas of town, which then were mostly swamp) and justifying the connecting I-295/9A Beltway which services the "needs" of the Beaches, Airport, port facilities, cross-town connections. etc. while totally missing the dreaded and "shrinking" downtown area.  " 'We're going to do something about this.'  says Voorhees."
And, so it was done.

Call me cynicial but I would suggest this article had some serious special interests and political motivations behind its publication.

stephendare

July 14, 2009, 12:42:27 PM
Do tell, stjr.

Ocklawaha

July 18, 2009, 12:50:46 PM
Stjr, it was really a coded and secret message about massive SKYWAY expansion... How else to get to the Beaches from downtown since in the end we didn't save the rail or mass transit right-of-way's.

Smile


OCKLAWAHA

Gwefr

August 05, 2009, 02:13:33 PM
"Until we are at least 1,000,000 population (about 1990), " Voorhees says, "the bus system is the only way to move people at a reasonable cost.  Right now we must concentrate on improving this system of bus transportation service, extending routes, stepping up frequency and greatly expanding direct cross town routes."

The bus transportation service is still very inefficient. See, my boyfriend had to move back in with his parents after getting laid off and having a hard time finding a new job. Plus his car just totally died on him and he has no $$ to even think about fixing it. Then he finds out the buses don't go *anywhere near* his parents house. (they live right next to I-95 on Old St Augustine Road) This has made it that much harder to find a new job in this screwed up economy. And this is not the only part of town that has no buses running through it. This city needs to actually fix the bus problems before we even think about building a bunch of fancy ways to get around

Ocklawaha

August 05, 2009, 03:07:35 PM
"Until we are at least 1,000,000 population (about 1990), " Voorhees says, "the bus system is the only way to move people at a reasonable cost.  Right now we must concentrate on improving this system of bus transportation service, extending routes, stepping up frequency and greatly expanding direct cross town routes."

The bus transportation service is still very inefficient. See, my boyfriend had to move back in with his parents after getting laid off and having a hard time finding a new job. Plus his car just totally died on him and he has no $$ to even think about fixing it. Then he finds out the buses don't go *anywhere near* his parents house. (they live right next to I-95 on Old St Augustine Road) This has made it that much harder to find a new job in this screwed up economy. And this is not the only part of town that has no buses running through it. This city needs to actually fix the bus problems before we even think about building a bunch of fancy ways to get around

Voorhees, couldn't have been more wrong! Cities with balanced and mixed mode transit have been far ahead of the learning curve for years. This Mixed Transit theory has worked even in cities much smaller then Jacksonville. 

In real world experience, the mix of transit types always over produces the single mode choice. Currently we are stretching schedules to put buses on Beach to Cecil, and Orange Park to Airport, like routes. If we had a completed Skyway, Streetcars and Regional Rail, those same buses could cut their trip lengths in half or more. We could then redeploy our large bus fleet (3rd in FL behind MIA and FLL) as neighborhood transit. This new form of Community Transit sends the buses on a frequent schedule circuit around each community within the metro area. For example the bus that would then pass your home would also pass your bank, your department stores, your grocery and your Rapid Transit Station. The remaining routes that would still go into town could be made more efficient via a BRT/HOV lane concept. The way to get buses and get them more frequently is to get RAIL.

 
OCKLAWAHA

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 12:22:32 PM
Quote
Planning authority Alan W. Voorhees whose transportation consultant firm is in McLean, Va., is assigned to this phase of planning.  Among his findings:

"All downtown areas in cities are shrinking.  With only 20 to 25 percent of all people working in downtown, its function is shifting from manufacturing wholesaling and retailing toward the economic activities of management and finance.

"Because the big population growth is coming in the suburbs, most of our service oriented industry is attracted to secondary centers which spring up to serve these people.

"All this change results in a new concept of road patterns and modes of transportation.  The highway into town has lost its importance.

"Today, Jacksonville people are making a total of a million trips a day in the area.  Only 3% of these trips utilize mass transportation systems.  A million more trips are made daily through the area.  Traffic concentrates in the city's center, although only about 10% is destined for downtown.  The rest is cross town traffic.  This traffic pattern wastes time.  We're going to do something about this."  says Voorhees.

"Gridirons of roads are the most effective means of providing road service to homes.  We'll see an interlinking of communities with cross town feeders to serve dispersed traffic patterns.  The result will be less roads ad more open spaces.

"We're planning expressway expansions now.  We're planning for several new expressways, both north and south to feed the potential development to the north and east of the downtown and we may provide two cross river systems as port and industrial expansion follows the river north and eastward.

"Also, we're suggesting an expressway just inside the Beaches development as a North South facility to prevent the number one problem which exists in the Broward Dade County areas and could develop at our shore.

"A by-pass rail system just outside of and to the west of I-295 to get big train movements outside the congested areas may be set up to serve the expected industrial development along our present system.

"As you can see, we are getting a marked change from today's traffic patterns.

This was the man and set of decisions that cost us our downtown, ultimately.

Removing all the rail from the downtown and designing the city to utilize these expressways around downtown----specifically in order to promote the suburbs.

wonder if he is still alive?

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 12:32:36 PM
Here is the answer to the question of whether or not he is still alive:  Very smart fellow btw, with an interesting life.  Sadly he apparently was fundamentally wrong in his ideas on city design.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Voorhees

Quote
Alan Manners Voorhees (December 17, 1922 – December 18, 2005) was a transportation engineer and urban planner who designed many large public works in the United States. Voorhees was born in Highland Park, New Jersey.

During World War II, he left his studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) to join the United States Navy as an officer in what was called the "Underwater Demolition Team 11" (UDT-11), a precursor to the U.S. Navy SEALs. He spent much of the war mapping shoreline defenses in the Pacific. After the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Voorhees' unit was sent in to inspect the city, making him one of the first Americans to see the bomb's aftermath. For his military service he received the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and the Presidential Unit Citation.

After the war, Voorhees continued his education, graduating from RPI in 1947 and then earning his master's degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949.
[
Transportation planning

In 1952, Voorhees came to Washington, D.C. to work for the nonprofit Automobile Safety Foundation. While studying traffic in Baltimore, Voorhees developed a mathematical formula to predict traffic patterns based on land use. This formula has been instrumental in the design of numerous transportation and public works projects around the world. He wrote "A General Theory of Traffic Movement" (1956), which applied the gravity model to trip distribution, which translates trips generated in an area to a matrix that identifies the number of trips from each origin to each destination, which can then be loaded onto the network.

In 1961, he began his own engineering firm (Alan M. Voorhees & Associates) which eventually grew to have branches in ten U.S. cities. He was involved in the design of many subway systems including those in São Paulo, Hong Kong, Caracas, and Washington, D.C..

Voorhees sold his firm in 1967 and became the dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Urban Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle in 1971. The firm went on to be project manager of the Boston Transportation Planning Review. Voorhees invested in Micros Corporation and its electronic cash register in the late 1960s.

Voorhees designed the street grid for land that was reclaimed in lower Manhattan in New York City, connecting new streets to centuries-old already existing roads and to the Brooklyn Bridge.

and here is the answer to his opinions on rail vs highways:

Quote
He was also one of the early designers of the United States' Interstate Highway System and helped determine how the highways would cut through or bypass urban areas.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 12:36:01 PM
Here is his obituary in the Washington Post:  Truly a fascinating fellow

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/12/23/AR2005122301694.html

By Matt Schudel
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 24, 2005
Alan M. Voorhees, who made important contributions to fields as varied as mapping, urban planning, the interstate highway system, airlines, collecting and philanthropy, died Dec. 18 of an apparent stroke at the Berkeley Hotel, a small hotel that he built and owned in Richmond.

The Alexandria resident had just attended the annual Christmas party of his family investment firm and celebrated his 83rd birthday, which was Dec. 17.

Early in his career, Voorhees, an engineer who specialized in transportation projects, devised a mathematical model to predict traffic patterns. This formula has helped planners build highways, subway systems, shopping centers, apartment buildings and office complexes throughout the world.

Voorhees was instrumental in designing the roads and transportation systems in at least four national capitals, including Washington. When land was reclaimed at the southern tip of Manhattan, he helped connect the new street grid to existing roads and the Brooklyn Bridge.



"It's not too much to say he was a legend in the field," said Thomas B. Deen, a former business partner who later was executive director of Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. "He was very intuitive. He was a genius in his ability to sense what was going to work and what wouldn't."

In the late 1950s, before a single mile of the interstate highway system had been built, Voorhees was one of its early planners, particularly in determining how the highways should go through and around cities. Later, he helped plan subway systems around the world, including Washington's Metro.

His curiosity led him to other fields, and he funded entrepreneurs who developed the electronic cash register and a bar-code system. He established a popular berry farm and nature preserve in Virginia's Northern Neck; collected historic maps that he later donated to the Library of Congress and other institutions; and funded buildings and programs on the campuses of at least four colleges.

"He liked ideas, progress, productivity," said his daughter, Nancy Voorhees. "He never really retired."

His work quietly affected the lives of countless people, yet Voorhees maintained such a low public profile that he was all but unknown in Washington, where he had lived since 1952. He moved below the Beltway radar, staying out of politics and the local party scene.

His name made the headlines only when he donated 729 acres on the Rappahannock River to the Nature Conservancy in 1994; when Rutgers University in New Jersey dedicated the Alan M. Voorhees Transportation Center, a research institute on transportation policy, in 1998; and when he gave priceless historical maps to the Library of Virginia in 1999.

"Al made a huge difference in the way our society is today, and he did it behind the scenes," said Gary L. Fitzpatrick, former senior specialist for digital programs at the Library of Congress, who knew Voorhees as a map collector.

Alan Manners Voorhees was born Dec. 17, 1922, in Highland Park, N.J. He was in his early teens when his father, a stockbroker, died.

He made his first major contribution during World War II, when he left his civil engineering studies at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., to become an officer with an elite Navy unit called UDT-11, Underwater Demolition Team 11, a forerunner of the Navy Seals. (His unit is featured in an exhibit at the Navy UDT-Seal Museum in Fort Pierce, Fla.) Voorhees was in the advance units of several Allied invasions in the Pacific islands during World War II, swimming ashore to scout enemy positions and, under heavy fire, map shoreline defenses. His maps helped guide the Allied invasions of Okinawa and in Borneo.

After the atomic bombing of Nagasaki on Aug. 9, 1945, Voorhees's unit inspected the city's harbor, and he was among the first Americans to see the destruction of Nagasaki. He was awarded the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Presidential Unit Citation.

Voorhees returned to Rensselaer, graduating in 1947, and then received a master's degree in city planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1949. He did further study of highway transportation at Yale University and took his first professional job as a city planning engineer in Colorado Springs. While there, he was on a committee that put together a proposal that eventually led to the location of the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.



In 1952, Voorhees came to Washington as a planning engineer with the Automobile Safety Foundation, a nonprofit corporation. He lived in a house in Bethesda that he built with his own hands.

While studying traffic patterns in Baltimore, he applied a principle from marketing to measure housing, congestion and other urban uses to assess future transportation needs. He was present at the launch of the interstate highway movement in the 1950s. He also worked to help Boston, Washington and other cities convert their bus systems from private to public ownership.

In 1961, he formed Alan M. Voorhees and Associates, which grew to have 10 branches throughout the country and six offices abroad. During the 1960s, Voorhees helped in the initial design of Metro's underground stations and contributed to plans for subway systems in Sao Paulo, Brazil; Hong Kong and Caracas, Venezuela. He drew up transportation plans for the national capitals of Australia, Nigeria and Yugoslavia.

In 1967, his firm was bought by Planning Research Corp., but it remained an independent subsidiary until Mr. Voorhees left in 1977 to become dean of the College of Architecture, Art and Urban Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle. While there, he established a neighborhood planning center at the university in his wife's name.

He returned to the Washington area in 1979, settling in a historic house in Alexandria. He had become a wealthy man when he sold his company, and he began to invest in promising ventures.

In 1979, after the deregulation of the airline industry, Voorhees helped found Atlantic Southeast Airlines and remained its chairman until it was bought by Delta Airlines. He and a partner expanded a small mapping and satellite reconnaissance firm, Autometric Inc., into a $100 million concern that conducted top-secret intelligence work.

He also turned to development, building Hamilton Court, a mixed-use development in Georgetown, and properties in a historic district in Richmond. He bought a farm in Westmoreland County, on Virginia's Northern Neck, that is now a popular fruit and berry farm, and turned 1,000 nearby acres into a nature preserve.

He was a member of the board of Voorhees College, a historically black institution in Denmark, S.C., and paid for buildings there and at Rensselaer and Rutgers.

In later life, Voorhees amassed about 300 maps that document the development of Virginia since the 16th century, which Fitzpatrick of the Library of Congress called "the best collection that was in private hands."

Once, when an important map came up for sale in London, Voorhees flew over on the Concorde, without telling his wife where he was going. He bought the map and returned the same day.

He divided his collection, worth several million dollars, among the Library of Congress, the Library of Virginia and the Virginia Historical Society. He organized a campaign to have the map collection of the Library of Congress photographed and digitally preserved.

Voorhees was a member of the steering committee of Jamestown 2007, a group planning the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Jamestown. He was a former chairman of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences and the first chairman of the Center for Geographic Information at the Library of Congress. He served on several boards devoted to Virginia history.

His wife of 51 years, Nathalie P. Voorhees, died in 2000.

In addition to his daughter, Nancy, of Bethesda, survivors include two other children, Susan V. Hunt of McLean and Scott Voorhees of London; two brothers; and six grandchildren.

Voorhees was preparing for a trip to Antarctica in January. It was the only continent he had not visited.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:06:37 PM
the outcome of the interstate bypasses he designed:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Urban_decay

Quote
Urban decay has no single cause; it results from combinations of inter-related socio-economic conditions—including the city’s urban planning decisions, the poverty of the local populace, the construction of freeway roads and rail road lines that bypass the area, depopulation by suburbanization of peripheral lands, real estate neighborhood redlining, and xenophobic immigration restrictions

I wonder what inspired him to design along these lines, other than reliance on a mathematical model of traffic patterns that he developed in the 50s.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:09:14 PM


He seems amiable enough.

Ocklawaha

April 14, 2012, 01:11:50 PM


He seems amiable enough.

Yeah, but then most dead guys are.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:17:27 PM
The outcome of identical thinking in Charlottesville.  In fact the whole "Urban Renewal" movement had the identical effects there.  The managed to screw things up so badly that by the 1970s they had to start all over again with one of those pedestrian mall plaza ideas and they closed off main street.

All they managed to do was to get rid of 500 black families and provide smoother auto connections.  Oh and destroy the city center.  What was Voorhees thinking?


http://www2.iath.virginia.edu/schwartz/cville/cville.history.html
Quote
In the late 1950's and 1960's a bypass was constructed to divert traffic away from the downtown district. This allowed a smooth connection between the north-south route to Washington/Lynchburg with the east-west connector of Route 250 (paralleling the old Three Notch'd Road). In addition, a major east-west interstate was constructed (Route 64) passing a mile south of the town center.

These major highway improvements were a part of the national campaign to improve commerce and ease of travel in general. Another trend that Charlottesville experienced in the late 1950's and early 1960's also paralleled accepted doctrinaire planning practice of the time. Amidst controversy, and with a very thinly disguised racist agenda, the city decided to exercise "urban renewal" with the neighborhood of Vinegar Hill. This process of slum clearance occurred in tandem with a particularly tense and incendiary situation surrounding desegregation in general and school desegregation in particular. At the time, the exclusively white high school (Lane High) was located at the base of the Vinegar Hill neighborhood and the principal black school (Jefferson School) was located on the western edge. While the city was only temporarily successful in fighting the federal mandate for school integration, the impact of the city's treatment of the Vinegar Hill residents and urban fabric produced a profound and long lasting effect. As a part of this agenda, around five-hundred black residents of the city were displaced, and the primary commercial district for the town's African-American community was destroyed. In place of this active neighborhood, the city installed a major north-south connecting road (McIntyre) facilitating relatively high speed connections between Ridge Street and the Route 250 bypass. Eventually, a number of larger scale commercial buildings, a courthouse, apartments and condominiums and a hotel were constructed, situated typically amidst large areas of parking. In the mid-1970's, the city also decided to eliminate car traffic on Main Street downtown in favor of exclusive pedestrian access. The construction of the Mall was a part of this larger urban renewal strategy, attempting to staunch the flow of business activity away from the city center. Meanwhile, absent any significant zoning constraints within the county, the 1970's and 1980's witnessed extraordinary and virtually uncontrolled growth of strip developments in the peripheral areas of town.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:19:54 PM


He seems amiable enough.

Yeah, but then most dead guys are.

Dick Cheney isn't.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:43:52 PM
ALthough I suspect that it is no accident that Voorhees was a military man, or that he had been one of the first men to see the remains of the atom bombs being dropped on Japan.

The Interstate System was never designed for simple auto traffic, although it was intended for cars to be able to use it.

http://www.historynet.com/president-dwight-eisenhower-and-americas-interstate-highway-system.htm

Quote
Whether it is commuting to work, embarking on the great American road trip or something as simple as receiving a product that has wended its way across hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles of highway, nearly everyone in America benefits from the Eisenhower Interstate System on a day-to-day basis. Most Americans, however, do not know the history behind one of the country's greatest public works projects, and fewer still understand the motivation of the man whose personal experience and vision brought the massive and challenging project to fruition. The story of the creation of the Interstate Highway System spans two world wars and the life of one of America's most famous leaders.

In 1919, following the end of World War I, an Army expedition was organized to traverse the nation from Washington, D.C., to San Francisco. The First Transcontinental Motor Convoy (FTMC) left the nation's capital on July 7, following a brief ceremony and the dedication of the 'Zero Milestone' at the Ellipse just south of the White House. Joining the expedition as an observer was a young lieutenant colonel, Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Only eight months earlier the Allied powers and Germany had signed an armistice ending World War I, a conflict that is today synonymous with savage trench fighting, the chilling call to 'fix bayonets!' and so many blighted and blood-soaked fields. Yet as Secretary of War Newton D. Baker noted during the FTMC's ceremonial send-off: 'The world war was a war of motor transport. It was a war of movement, especially in the later stages….There seemed to be a never-ending stream of transports moving along the white roads of France.'



Four level interchange in Fort Worth, Texas. (National Archives)
Baker's important observation factored directly into the departing convoy's primary objectives. As stated in one official report, those objectives included: 'To service-test the special-purpose vehicles developed for use in the first World War, not all of which were available in time for such use, and to determine by actual experience the possibility and the problems involved in moving an army across the continent, assuming that railroad facilities, bridges, tunnels, etc., had been damaged or destroyed by agents of an Asiatic enemy.'

At its starting point, the massive convoy consisted of 34 heavy cargo trucks, four light delivery trucks, two machine shops, one blacksmith shop, one wrecking truck, two spare-parts stores, two water tanks, one gasoline tank, one searchlight, one caterpillar tractor, four kitchen trailers, eight touring cars, one reconnaissance car, two staff observation cars, five sidecar motorcycles and four motorcycles, all of which were operated and maintained by 258 enlisted men, 15 War Department staff observation officers and 24 expeditionary officers. By the time the expedition reached San Francisco on September 6 — 62 days after setting out, the convoy had traveled 3,251 miles, at an average of 58.1 miles per day and 6.07 miles per hour.

It was truly an unprecedented undertaking in every regard, and although the mission was a success, the numbers were disappointing if not dismal. According to a report by William C. Greany, captain of the Motor Transport Corps, the convoy lost nine vehicles –'so damaged as to require retirement while en route' — and 21 men 'thru various casualties' (mercifully there was no mention of fatalities). During the course of its journey, the convoy destroyed or otherwise damaged 88 'mostly wooden highway bridges and culverts' and was involved in 230 'road accidents' or, more precisely, 'instances of road failure and vehicles sinking in quicksand or mud, running off the road or over embankments, over-turning, or other mishaps due entirely to the unfavorable and at times appalling traffic conditions that were encountered.'

The after-action report of Lt. Col. Eisenhower, one of the 15 War Department staff observation officers, noted: 'In many places excellent roads were installed some years ago that have since received no attention whatsoever. Absence of any effort at maintenance has resulted in roads of such rough nature as to be very difficult of negotiating.' Even more vexing, many of what otherwise would have been considered 'good roads' were simply too narrow for military vehicles. Others were too rough, sandy or steep for trucks that in some cases weighed in excess of 11 tons. Eisenhower claimed, 'The train operated so slowly in such places, that in certain instances it was noted that portions of the train did not move for two hours.'

The July 30 entry in the FTMC's daily log, for example, shows it covered 83 miles in 10 hours through Nebraska, not exactly burning up the track but a good clip nonetheless at about 8 miles per hour. Just three days later, however, the convoy became mired in 'gumbo roads,' which slowed the rate of progress to 30 miles in 10 grueling hours — at one point even causing 25 of the expedition's trucks to go skidding into a ditch. 'Two days were lost in [the] western part of this state,' Eisenhower later recorded.

For all involved, the military convoy was a learning experience, a sharp illustration of the disrepair and, more often than not, complete lack of highway infrastructure in many areas of the country, particularly the heartland. The majority of the nation's roads and highways were simply a mess. Even the Lincoln Highway, the most famous transcontinental highway of its day, had been described as nothing more than 'an imaginary line, like the equator'!

Eisenhower's experience with the FTMC provided him with great insight into the logistics of moving large quantities of men and materiel across vast stretches of land and convinced him of the necessity of building and maintaining the infrastructure to do so more efficiently. Yet, as educational as his experience with the convoy had been, it would be dwarfed by the greater and far more serious challenges of World War II.

In November 1942, 21 years after the FTMC and nearly a year after the United States had entered the war, Eisenhower was appointed to command Allied forces in Operation Torch, aimed at evicting the Axis powers from North Africa.

There was much about Operation Torch to dislike from a command standpoint. Given the physical geography and the incredibly poor infrastructure of the lands he and his forces were invading, the operation was a logistical nightmare. Torch required three amphibious landings spread over 800 miles: at Casablanca, on the western coast of Morocco, and at Oran and Algiers, along the Algerian coast in the Mediterranean Sea. Each group was to hit the ground running and make all due haste east, toward the ultimate goal of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia. Unfortunately for the Allies, North Africa was not well suited to the rapid movement of military convoys. The Atlas Mountains, where elevation at places exceeds 13,000 feet, spanned virtually the entire area of operations, and the infrastructure, where it existed, was generally poor at best.

The fact that Casablanca was more than 1,000 miles west of its objective meant a longer, more vulnerable supply line and much slower going when speed was essential. According to historian Stephen Ambrose, many, including Eisenhower, 'could see no good reason to terminate the seaborne phase of the amphibious assault 1,000 miles away from the objective, which itself was on the coast and could be reached quicker on ship than on foot.' Chief of Staff General George C. Marshall, however, was concerned that if all three landing sites were within the Mediterranean it might tempt Adolf Hitler to invade Spain, giving him the opportunity to blockade the Straits of Gibraltar and strangle the seaborne Allied supply lines.

The race to reach Tunis before it could be reinforced with Axis troops found the Allies at a decided disadvantage. Axis troops moved with ease through Benito Mussolini's Italy and onto Sicily, approximately 150 miles off the Tunisian coast, little more than a long ferry ride. The Allies, according to Ambrose, were, by comparison, 'dependent on unimproved dirt roads and a poorly maintained single-track railroad.' When the Allied heads of state began to lament the slow advance, Eisenhower barked back that, in spite of commandeering every vehicle that would move, he was hindered by the complete absence of organized motor transport. Moreover, the Luftwaffe's strong presence over the Mediterranean prevented shipping supplies that far into the sea.

According to Ambrose, Eisenhower privately confided to Marshall that his situation was so hodgepodge and patchwork it would 'make a ritualist in warfare go just a bit hysterical.' Some did; others got creative. Lieutenant General Sir Kenneth Anderson of the British First Army became so fed up with the logistical situation that he resorted to bringing supplies into the Tunis area by pack mule. Every bit as slow and obstinate as the four-wheeled alternative, a good mule was at least much less likely to break down in the mountains.

Although the Allies failed to beat the Axis reinforcements to Tunis, they did eventually win the race to resupply. Germany was so invested in stalemating the Soviet Union along the Eastern Front that the materiel it was allocating to Afrika Korps represented little more than the barest scraps of an almost incalculably vast resource pool. Ultimately, the fact that Allied supplies had to travel much greater distances to the front weighed little against the sheer volume of output coming from American production capacity at its peak. Operation Torch was a success, albeit belatedly. With French North Africa free from the Axis powers, Eisenhower and the Allies were finally able to turn their attention toward the big picture, namely a full-scale Allied invasion of Europe the following year.

As harrowing and dramatic as any single event during the war could be, D-Day was also, by its very nature, only the beginning of the Crusade in Europe (as Eisenhower later titled the memoirs of his experience in-theater). As jubilant as the Allied forces were after having successfully penetrated Hitler's so-called Atlantic Wall — the layered network of coastal defenses protecting occupied France — there was an even greater challenge facing them on the other side. Several hundred miles of terrain, which the Wehrmacht had occupied for nearly four years, remained between the Allies and their ultimate objective, Berlin. Much of the worst fighting still lay ahead — not far ahead, either.

Normandy's famous hedgerows stymied Allied advances almost from the beginning. The densely packed hedgerows and narrow roads slowed tank movements to a crawl, making them easy pickings for German units wielding the Panzerfaust (an early model of rocket-propelled grenade). The great majority of the advancing, therefore, had to be done piecemeal by slow-moving infantry. Nearly two months later, all that the Allies had to show for their efforts to push farther into the Continent was a skimpy front 80 miles wide, extending 30 miles inland at its deepest points. In an ominous throwback to World War I, commanders again began to measure their advances in yards instead of miles.

Once the Allies emerged from hedgerow country, however, the terrain significantly opened up. Lieutenant General George S. Patton was the first to break out, on August 1; by the 6th he was halfway to Paris. 'The nightmare of a static front was over,' Ambrose wrote. 'Distances that had taken months and cost tens of thousands of lives to cross in World War I' were being crossed in mere hours with minimal casualties. Even so, isolated sections of terrain proved nearly impassable. According to Ambrose, the Hrtgen Forest, 'where roads were nothing more than forest trails,' and the Ardennes Mountains, with their 'limited road network,' were hell on both tanks and infantry. There would be further setbacks not attributable to infrastructure, primarily the German counteroffensive at the Battle of the Bulge, but the Allies were headed full-bore for the Rhine, while on the Eastern Front the Red Army was bearing down on Berlin.

It was not until the Allies broke through the Western Wall and tapped into Germany's sprawling autobahn network that Eisenhower saw for himself what a modern army could do with an infrastructure capable of accommodating it. The enhanced mobility that the autobahn provided the Allies was something to behold, and years later was still cause for reminiscing. 'The old convoy,' Eisenhower wrote, referring to his experience with the FTMC, 'had started me thinking about good, two-lane highways, but Germany had made me see the wisdom of broader ribbons across the land.'

Eisenhower's experience commanding and directing the movements of massive quantities of troops and equipment, added to his early experience with the FTMC, strengthened his recognition that America was sorely lacking in a national highway defense system. In a situation requiring the mass exodus of an entire city or region or the urgent mobilization of troops for purposes of national defense, the federal government, to say nothing of state and local entities, would have been hard-pressed to adequately respond. Moreover, the need for such critical infrastructure became that much more urgent as the Soviet Union eagerly stepped into the power vacuum created by the fall of Nazi Germany. The idyllic Allied notion that all would be right with the world following the death of Hitler and the smashing of the German armies quickly gave way to the painful realization that there is always reason to remain prepared, always someone else to fight.

Not surprisingly, therefore, when Eisenhower became the 34th U.S. president in 1953, he pushed for the building of an interstate highway system. Although Congress had first authorized a national highway system in 1944, it had always been woefully underfunded. Throwing the full weight of his presidency behind the project, Eisenhower declared to Congress on February 22, 1955: 'Our unity as a nation is sustained by free communication of thought and by easy transportation of people and goods. The ceaseless flow of information throughout the Republic is matched by individual and commercial movement over a vast system of interconnected highways crisscrossing the country and joining at our national borders with friendly neighbors to the north and south.

'Together, the uniting forces of our communication and transportation systems are dynamic elements in the very name we bear — United States. Without them, we would be a mere alliance of many separate parts.'



As farm folks look on, a worker smooths concrete on I-70 near Boonville, Mo. (National Archives)
More than a year later, on June 29, Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, guaranteeing full, dedicated funding for the project. The National Highway Defense System (NHDS), as it was initially known, has been referred to as one of the 'Seven Wonders of the United States,' among other such notable structures as the Golden Gate Bridge, the Hoover Dam and the Panama Canal. What sets the NHDS apart from those wonders, and what Eisenhower addressed as one of its greatest selling points, is the fact that it truly has strengthened and enhanced the Union (including noncontiguous states Alaska and Hawaii, as well as the territory of Puerto Rico). Only the Panama Canal, which similarly made the United States more accessible to itself by greatly reducing the time required to ship goods from coast to coast, can claim anything approaching a similar distinction.

The scope of the NHDS is underscored by its individual components. The longest east-west route, I-90, stretches more than 3,000 miles, linking Seattle to Boston. I-95 serves a similar end for north-south travel: Extending from Miami to Maine, its nearly 2,000 miles of highway cross through 15 states — including all 13 of the original colonies — and the District of Columbia. (It is also estimated to have been the most expensive route to construct, at a cost of nearly $8 billion.) Texas boasts the most interstate mileage within a single state, with more than 3,200; New York claims the most interstate routes, with 29. California is second in both categories, with just under 2,500 miles of interstate on its 25 routes.

The structural achievements involved are no less staggering than the numbers. Although the 'highway' is often declaimed as an eyesore at worst and bland at best, the NHDS is actually composed of many unique wonders of modern engineering and ingenuity. Some of the most spectacular cross large bodies of water or ride alongside the Pacific Coast. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay, Fla., a so-called cable-stayed bridge, has been lauded by The New York Times for its 'lyrical and tensile strength' — indeed rows of small cables attached to two single-column pylons support the weight of the bridge below 'like the strings of a harp.'

Several interstate routes in California and Hawaii hug the coasts, offering panoramic views of stunning Pacific seaside vistas to passing motorists.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:44:20 PM
Other achievements in interstate construction are closely associated with the 'Not In My Backyard' movement. Many urban areas have 'gone green' in recent decades, improving their routes to meet increased environmental concerns and the aesthetic needs of citizens; some projects were even forced to halt construction entirely until such concerns were addressed in advance. Worries about the safety of the endangered and much beloved Florida panther led to the construction of special underpasses along Alligator Alley, the portion of I-75 that connects Naples and Miami in Florida, allowing panthers and other wildlife to cross safely beneath the flow of traffic. One section of I-10 in Arizona that opened in 1990, the Papago Freeway, runs beneath '19 side-by-side bridges that form the foundation for a 12-hectare [29.6 acre] urban park,' according to Richard F. Weingroff, a former official at the Federal Highway Administration. Known as the Margaret T. Hance Park, the space was conceived as a unique solution to the vexing problem of how to maintain connections between neighborhoods divided by the interstate. In other areas, simpler concerns required simpler solutions, such as tree-lined medians, noise-reducing berms and walls, lowered speed limits and prohibitions against large trucks.



Flanked by access roads, I-35 is constructed to cut a swath through Austin, Texas. (National Archives)
A frequent complaint leveled against the NHDS is that it has stripped the adventure and romanticism from long-distance traveling. Upon the completion of I-40 (Barstow, Calif., to Wilmington, N.C.), the late CBS News commentator Charles Kuralt observed: 'It is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything. From the Interstate, America is all steel guardrails and plastic signs, and every place looks and feels and sounds and smells like every other place.' While the criticism is to an extent justified, it is also true that the NHDS directly serves nearly every major metropolitan area (as well as countless smaller areas of population) and is home to, or otherwise conveniently located near, thousands of tourist destinations across the country.

Some of the most intriguing and impressive tourist stops are those that are not content to simply nestle alongside the highway, but those that, like the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument, literally straddle it. The Archway Monument, a 1,500-ton structure spanning 308 feet acrossI-80 in Kearney, Neb., is a celebration of frontier culture designed to resemble a covered bridge. Built to honor the thousands of pioneers who had followed the arduous route from Missouri to the West Coast during the 19th century, the Archway Monument is a living bridge to history over a modern river of asphalt, a testament to the wisdom of and need for well-planned, well-constructed infrastructure. Eisenhower would have approved of the symbolism.

Whatever else these features may be in and of themselves, they are ultimately incidental to the system's much more vital main purpose. The NHDS, according to a 1996 report written by Wendell Cox and Jean Love 40 years after Eisenhower signed the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956, was conceived and marketed as the best possible way to facilitate 'the quick and efficient movement of military equipment and personnel' in the event of a Soviet invasion or nuclear strike. Inspired by the autobahn, Eisenhower envisioned multilane highways — 'broader ribbons across the land,' as he called them — yet even at its narrowest points, the system can still accommodate all but the most cumbersome wheeled or tracked military vehicles. Also, most military bases are situated within close proximity to the NHDS, adding to the already unequaled in-country response capability of the U.S. armed forces — a fact that is every bit as comforting as the fact that there has never been occasion to use this capability to its utmost.

One widely held dual-use-related belief is that one out of every five miles of the NHDS is mandated to be straight and level, capable of functioning as an emergency airstrip. Aside from the fact that, according to Weingroff, 'no law, regulation, policy, or sliver of red tape requires that one out of every five miles of the interstate highway system be straight,' it is virtually impossible from an engineering standpoint. The NHDS is composed of nearly 50,000 miles of road, meaning that almost 10,000 miles would need to be straight and level to conform to the supposed one-in-five-mile rule, a figure that is wildly unrealistic. In addition, from an aerial standpoint, an airstrip every five miles is superfluous, given the speed at which modern aircraft travel. Although there are long and level stretches of highway that could function as an emergency landing strip in a pinch, they are nowhere near as evenly parceled out as the one-in-five-mile rule would suggest. (The use of highway infrastructure for an airstrip is not unheard of, however: Nazi Germany did use limited stretches of the autobahn for such purposes during World War II.)

One cannot discuss the NHDS without also mentioning its impact on the U.S. economy. It is, quite literally, the economic engine that drives this country's prosperity. No other industrialized nation has such a sprawling and comprehensive system of roadways, though many are now seeking to emulate the U.S. model as a means toward becoming more competitive in the international marketplace. One look at the figures in the Cox and Love report and it is not hard to understand why. By 1996 the interstates, comprising just over 1 percent of the miles of public road in this country, carried 'nearly one-quarter of the nation's surface passenger transport and 45 percent of motor freight transport.' During the course of its first 40 years, the system was responsible for an increase of 'approximately one-quarter of the nation's productivity.' Highway transportation and directly related industries accounted for more than 7 million jobs.

Indirectly related industries have felt the uptick, as well. In the restaurant business alone, employment 'has increased more than seven times the rate of population growth,' according to the Cox and Love report. By making '`just in time' delivery more feasible' while simultaneously reducing tractor-trailer operating costs by as much as 17 percent compared with other roadways, the NHDS has played a major role in making the electronic marketplace a workable phenomenon for all parties involved: retailers, delivery companies and consumers alike. Perhaps the most telling figure is the return rate of $6 for every $1 spent on highway construction. Consider also that in the 10 years since those figures were generated, several factors — population expansion, the advent of e-commerce, our national reluctance to fly following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 — have conspired to place an even greater share of traffic onto our nation's highways. The many differences separating 2006 from 1996 notwithstanding, the conclusion of the Cox and Love report concerning the economic impact of the NHDS remains as true today as the day it was written: 'By improving inter-regional access, the interstate highway system has helped to create a genuinely national domestic market with companies able to supply their products to much larger geographical areas, and less expensively.'

For most of us, though, the dual-use military features and the economic benefits of the NHDS are barely an afterthought. The interstate is a way to get to work, to go downtown, to shave 30 minutes off the drive to grandma's house. Often it is the backbone of that uniquely American pastime, the road trip. Sometimes it's just a headache. Occasionally it becomes a lifeline out of harm's way.

In 1990 the National Highway Defense System was renamed the Dwight David Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways under an act of Congress signed into law by President George H.W. Bush. As tributes go, it was perfectly appropriate. 'Of all his domestic programs,' Ambrose wrote, 'Eisenhower's favorite by far was the Interstate System.'

For all its detractors' criticism, the interstate system, more than any other project in the past 50 years, has encouraged an unprecedented democratization of mobility. It has opened up access to an array of goods and services previously unavailable to many and created massive opportunities for five decades and three generations of Americans. It has made the country more accessible to itself while also making it safer and more secure, outcomes that in almost any other undertaking would prove mutually exclusive. 'More than any single action by the government since the end of the war, this one would change the face of America,' Eisenhower wrote in 1963. 'Its impact on the American economy — the jobs it would produce in manufacturing and construction, the rural areas it would open up — was beyond calculation.' The clarity of his vision and the resiliency of his words are inarguable. The Eisenhower Interstate System has grown to be valuable beyond its original intent and is a lasting tribute to American ingenuity, ability and strength of purpose.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 01:55:28 PM
ah.  Perhaps this will explain his advice to the city.

Considering that he is working out of DC (although the office was in Virginia), here is the timeline of Interstate 95:

http://www.us-highways.com/fli.htm

Quote
On the 1959 Shell Florida Map, I-95 appears on the 'Jacksonville Expressway' from Beaver St. to the junction of US 1 and US 90 in South Jacksonville, the Fuller Warren Bridge. On the 1960 map, the only portion of I-95 signed and built is through the heart of Jacksonville, up to Heckscher Drive. There is a short proposed north extension to US 17. By 1961, a short section of I-95 had been built in Miami, from south of I-195 at NW 31st St. to NW 95th St. near Miami Shores, with a little bit of construction north of that. The 1962 proposed route extended from the construction to join with the Sunshine State Parkway (now Florida's Turnpike) north of West Palm Beach. It left the Parkway near Ft. Pierce, and the proposed route wound north to Jacksonville. Another 1962 proposed segment stretched north from Jacksonville to the State Line. By 1963, I-95 was open from the Golden Glades interchange to Hallandale to I-95 shields were on the Sunshine State Pkwy from West Palm Beach to Ft. Pierce. By 1964, the Golden Glades Interchange was complete. I-95 was complete up to FL 84 In Jacksonville. I-95 now began at the South Jacksonville interchange, and was extended north to FL 104. 1964 construction includes the connection to Dixie Hwy along South Bay Drive, Malabar to Mims, and Daytona Beach to Jacksonville. The FL 970 spur was also proposed in 1964, as was the route through Miami. Completed sections in 1965 included Malabar to Eau Gallie and Daytona Beach to Bunnell. In 1967, Eau Gallie to Scottsmoor was opened, as well as the segment from Bunnell to Jacksonville. Construction in 1967 was extending I-95 north from Jacksonville to Gross. In 1968, I-95 (a.k.a. North-South Expressway) in Miami was open all the way up to Lummus Park, and from 20th St to I-195. The interchange with the East-West expressway was under construction. In 1968, I-95 was newly under construction up to FL 82, West Palm Beach to the Turnpike, FL 60 to Malabar, and Scottsmoor to Daytona Beach. In 1970, I-95 was open from FL 60 to Gross. 1970 Construction was crossing into Georgia. In 1971, I-95 had opened to the State Line. In 1972, portions of I-95 came under construction from Fort Lauderdale to West Palm Beach. This construction continued until 1977. New construction finally started from Fort Pierce to FL 60 in 1977, and a new proposed route was laid out from West Palm Beach to Fort Pierce, enabling the removal of I-95 shields from Florida's Turnpike. By 1978, Indrio to FL 60 was complete. In 1979, Fort Pierce to Indrio opened. In 1981, construction started from CR 714 to Fort Pierce. In 1984, I-95 was complete from Port St. Lucie north, and the proposed route between the completed portion up to Palm Beach Gardens and Port St. Lucie was in flux, different from previous years and more like today's highway. Construction shows up on maps in 1985, with CR 714 the new northern beginning of I-95. In 1987, I-95 was completed. Photos in the Florida State Photographic Archives foundby typing in "Interstate 95" deal mostly with construction the Miami area.

note that at the time of his consultancy, the Jacksonville Expressway still belonged to Jacksonville, and had been an earlier Robert Moses inspired project designed to eliminate the African American neighborhood of Sugar Hill.

He would naturally have had the expansion of the Interstate System as his real agenda while he was taking money from the City to design a proposed transportation plan.

Hmm.  Thats my theory at least.

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 02:21:45 PM
Jacksonville Mag is not published by the CoC.

It was at the time, and for many years afterwards.

Anti redneck

April 14, 2012, 02:45:12 PM
So Mr. Voorhees is the idiot that screwed up Jacksonville, huh? Wow!

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 03:40:39 PM
So Mr. Voorhees is the idiot that screwed up Jacksonville, huh? Wow!

One of many

stephendare

April 14, 2012, 04:06:26 PM
and you can only imagine what kind of personal nightmares Voorhees would have had as he built a system of roadworks designed to transport troops and materials for the military during a potential war being fought on american soil.

If, like Voorhees, you had personally seen the atomic destruction in Japan, would you be willing to make a city center into even more of a bombing target by pulling troops and tanks through the middle of it on an interstate?





stephendare

April 14, 2012, 04:10:19 PM
But still, perhaps the secrecy and ulterior motives were themselves a problem.

The solution is how to create a jointed system which would allow free access into the cities for cars and trucks to offload the defense highways but still leave the real purpose of the highway intact.

in other words a bypass system which also allowed for access into the city centers but limited access into the undeveloped lands in order to discourage suburbanization.

If all the cards had been on the table during this alleged study that Voorhees was being paid to do for Jacksonville (when his real masters were in DC) perhaps someone else would have thought of the solution.

ben says

April 14, 2012, 05:02:01 PM
This is an insightful and expansive thread. Thanks for the info, to all.

Jaxson

April 14, 2012, 05:46:56 PM
I agree with Stephen Dare and would say that our highways do fall short of their ideals and their contribution, rather than detriment, to our communities.  The problem, in my opinion, is that function tends to override form when politicians have to compromise great plans for short-run savings.  Yes, they shaved a little off the budget by taking away a few 'amenities,' but they damage the community fabric for years to come.

Anti redneck

April 15, 2012, 03:51:20 AM
The highway systems I think are terrible in Jacksonville. Seriously, getting from Arlington to Orange Park takes an hour. Getting from the beaches to downtown takes 30-40 minutes. Same with getting from Riverside to Mandarin. Commuting in Jacksonville just flat out sucks. That's why I wish they would do just something to improve expressways and roadways. And the "buses only until 1 million people"? I nearly choked when I read that other downtowns were fading away, or however it was worded! From the article, it sounded like Mr. Voorhees had the idea to break up downtown, businesses and all, and split everything up into what it is today so that people would be isolated into one part of town instead of being a city. How is it that all morons and idiots like Alan Voorhees came to one city I will never understand. Great finding by Stephen Dare. We're just slowly getting further to the bottom of what really happened with the city. Mayor Brown, this is a must read! You could possibly undo all of this!

Garden guy

April 15, 2012, 06:46:26 AM
None of the endless stupid indoing of our downtown will stop until we as a city stop voting conservative republican to the council. It is the conservative ideas rules and regulations that has put this city in the dire straights we r now in. Who wants more of the same?

cityimrov

April 18, 2012, 02:54:02 PM
This shows the dangers of using the military to serve for economic development or city planning.  Voorhees was right.  He did the correct thing with the goals of making a military transit system. 

I see nothing to show us we learned from the past.  Getting any major infrastructure project passed through Congress and the states is difficult.  If you want to see how difficult, look at high speed rail.  However, if you just use the exact same money for the military to do the exact same thing,  it passes without any problems. 

stephendare

February 24, 2014, 05:50:34 PM
and you can only imagine what kind of personal nightmares Voorhees would have had as he built a system of roadworks designed to transport troops and materials for the military during a potential war being fought on american soil.

If, like Voorhees, you had personally seen the atomic destruction in Japan, would you be willing to make a city center into even more of a bombing target by pulling troops and tanks through the middle of it on an interstate?







I had thought we had covered the thinking behind interstate design in an earlier article and in fact we had.  I10, if you care to read the article and this thread you will find out why the interstates were laid out the way they were.
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