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Archive: February, 2012

POSTED: Friday, February 24, 2012, 11:44 AM
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Andrew Stober,  Mayor Nutter’s point person on transportation, had the unenviable task Thursday night of trying to defend the planned reconstruction of the least loveable piece of infrastructure in Philadelphia - the 10-lane stretch of I-95 that cuts off Center City from the Delaware River - before a crowd that thinks the highway should never have been built in the first place.

Stober was speaking at “Reimagining Urban Highways,” a panel organized by Diana Lind of the group Next America City and previewed here. In an effort to start a conversation about the future of I-95, which comes up for a federally mandated overhaul in 2040, Lind assembled some of the nation’s top highway removal experts to share their experiences.  City Hall had initially refused to participate in the event, but at the last minute Stober was dispatched by his boss, Deputy Mayor Rina Cuter, to make the administration’s case for keeping I-95 exactly as it is. That alone was progress. Until Thursday, Cutler had squashed any talk in City Hall of burying, capping, narrowing or eliminating I-95.

Stober did a good job of putting the administration’s views in a larger context, and made a compelling argument for prioritizing mass transit, calling SEPTA “an incredible inheritance.” But it also became clear that Cutler’s office rejected a redesign for I-95 without ever having done a comparative, cost-benefit analysis of the possible scenarios. Until that happens, Philadelphia can’t have a truly informed debate on the issue.

About this blog

Inga Saffron believes there is architecture and there are places, and you can’t write about one without writing about the other.

Since becoming the Inquirer’s architecture critic in 1999, she has been just as likely to turn her eye toward Philadelphia’s waterfronts and sidewalks as to the latest glittering skyscraper. She is drawn to projects of all sizes and shapes, but especially those that form the backdrop of our daily lives.

Inga Saffron came to architecture criticism after five years as a foreign correspondent in Russia and Yugoslavia, where she covered two wars and was a witness to the destruction of two great cities, Sarajevo and Grozny. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism in 2004, 2008 and 2009.

Reach Inga at isaffron@phillynews.com.

Inga Saffron Inquirer Architecture Critic
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