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The Road to the Future Is Not a Drive-Thru

2817590468_241ec6a0b3.jpgMcMansions overlook a
strip mall parking lot in Franklin, Wisconsin. (Photo: John Michlig
via Flickr)

This morning on the Streetsblog Network, a cry of frustration from
member blog Sprawled
in the Milwaukee suburb of Franklin, Wisconsin.

Sprawled Out’s John Michlig
has been looking at some
of the findings
from the Brookings Institution’s "The State
of Metropolitan America
" report, which we wrote about earlier
in the week
. The report, among other things, notes that traditional
suburbs like Franklin are losing young, affluent, educated residents to
cities with good transit and lively downtowns — a phenomenon one of the
report’s authors refers to as "bright flight."

Michlig, whose blog is
subtitled "The Search for Community in the American Suburb," writes:

So, the question is: What will suburbs like mine do to meet thischallenge? I can tell you what Franklin, Wisconsin, is currently doing: Nothing.

No initiatives, projects, forums or incentive programs. In fact,we just pledged a half million dollars to a neighboring community for a superfluous highway interchange, a move that tells the world that Franklin is still about a decade behind the curve.…

Compared with the end of 2008, the average household is now spending an extra $135 a month for fuel.But, to repeat: My suburb just pledged $500,000 to build a highway interchangethat we don’t need in a neighboring community. And it’s not justmoney that will be going to the edge of town and over the border, itwill be development as well. Why build a neighborhood-basedcoffee shop when you can toss up an offramp-serving drive-thru java shed right next to the freeway?

At the same time, Franklin is pouring money into a streetscape design for a commercial strip that all but ignores transit options likededicated bus lanes and Zipcar facilities. Instead, our big-ticket itemon 27th Street is "enhanced lighting"  — the seventh most popular item mentioned onpreference surveys….

If success and sustainability are a destination, perhaps it’stime suburbs — mine in particular — realize that the road that broughtthem here won’t get them there.

More from around the network: Urban
writes about what Cincinnati has that Indianapolis lacks — "the
power of a place." Twin
City Sidewalks
tries to dispel some misconceptions about bike
boulevards. And Broken
wonders if a bike lane on a bridge could significantly
increase ridership in Louisville, Kentucky.

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