Context - Fall 2016 - 26

carrying the maximum number of cars they could carry before traffic started to slow due to congestion.  That means that at all other
times of the day, there is unused capacity that has to be built and
maintained.  It would be better if the road were built smaller, there
was some congestion some of the time, and the savings were used
to invest somewhere else.
As an example of the interplay between pricing, infrastructure, and
long-term demand, consider US 422 from King of Prussia to Pottstown.
The freeway, initially constructed in the early 1980s, allowed travelers
from Collegeville and other areas to make trips to King of Prussia and
Philadelphia significantly faster than they were able to before.  This investment clearly improved their lives.  However, because trips were faster,
the location decisions of other households and businesses changed,
and new investment was made near the 422 exits instead of in other,
closer-in places.  The household that moved to Collegeville because of
the access enabled by 422 generally had longer commutes than they
did at their previous location, so average trip length increased.  Further,
as the number of households living along the 422 corridor increased,
so did the number of drivers, and so the demand and need for 422
increased as well. The congestion level crept back up so that the most
congested part of the region is on 422, reducing much of the benefit
of the road in the first place. Because there are no tolls on the road,
there was more development and 422 has more traffic than if it were
properly priced

Now let's apply these thoughts to several large or contemplated
infrastructure projects in the region:
I-95.  The reconstruction of I-95 through Philadelphia is proceeding
over several decades, with remarkably little public discourse over what
form the reconstruction should take.  However, the world of 2016
is very different from the world of the 1960s and 1970s when the
road was built in the first place.  The industrial justification for such a
large road is gone - Philadelphia will never be the type of industrial
juggernaut that it was in that bygone era, nor should it aspire to be. 
Riverfront property, especially in and near Center City, which used to
be reserved for industry, is now a desirable residential and commercial
location.  Why then, is so much potentially useful land sacrificed for an
oversized highway and a major arterial road - Delaware Avenue?  In
light of the discussion above, would it be worth considering rebuilding
I-95 as a smaller road, especially south of Vine Street?  If the number
of lanes shrank, it might be feasible to bury much of the road, perhaps
relocating Delaware Avenue on top of it.  Tolls on I-95 could help pay
some of the cost, and would further discourage unnecessary usage.
SEPTA.  Thanks to Act 89, SEPTA now has sufficient funding to
repair and replace the parts of the system that have outlived their useful lives.  As it invests, it is the perfect opportunity to move the system
into a more efficient configuration, better able to serve the public's
needs.  Ridership on the rail lines is at an all-time high, so investments
to increase capacity and reduce the travel time (especially between

I-95 from the Ben Frankly Bridge


FALL 2016 | context | AIA Philadelphia


Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Context - Fall 2016

Editors’ Letter
Up Close
Design Profiles
Index to Advertisers
Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly1
Context - Fall 2016 - ebelly2
Context - Fall 2016 - cover1
Context - Fall 2016 - cover2
Context - Fall 2016 - 3
Context - Fall 2016 - 4
Context - Fall 2016 - Editors’ Letter
Context - Fall 2016 - Community
Context - Fall 2016 - 7
Context - Fall 2016 - 8
Context - Fall 2016 - 9
Context - Fall 2016 - Up Close
Context - Fall 2016 - 11
Context - Fall 2016 - Mayor Kenney’s Infrastructure Policy
Context - Fall 2016 - 13
Context - Fall 2016 - 14
Context - Fall 2016 - 15
Context - Fall 2016 - Green Infrastructure in Philadelphia: The Reading Viaduct Rail Park
Context - Fall 2016 - 17
Context - Fall 2016 - 18
Context - Fall 2016 - 19
Context - Fall 2016 - Streets: They’re Not Just for Cars Any More
Context - Fall 2016 - 21
Context - Fall 2016 - 22
Context - Fall 2016 - 23
Context - Fall 2016 - 24
Context - Fall 2016 - 25
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Context - Fall 2016 - 27
Context - Fall 2016 - Expression
Context - Fall 2016 - 29
Context - Fall 2016 - Design Profiles
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Context - Fall 2016 - 35
Context - Fall 2016 - 36
Context - Fall 2016 - Marketplace
Context - Fall 2016 - Index to Advertisers
Context - Fall 2016 - cover3
Context - Fall 2016 - cover4