Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Closing the Ring

Middlesex County always cast a wary eye on London's plans for an exclusionary expressway ..and rightly so, since it did nothing for the people of Huron, Middlesex, Oxford and Perth counties. Intersecting their major north/south roads with a 403 extension to Strathroy gives Exeter, Stratford, St. Marys and Wingham greatly improved access to a NAFTA route.
Our midwest cities and towns will only thrive if they cooperate now in promotion of such a high-speed corridor. The region either enhances its NAFTA presence or watches future generations of graduates follow the jobs south.
It is unlikely that an August 2004 letter from the London Development Institute was noticed in the counties. The letter provided ring road estimates of $62 millions for right-of-way purchase and construction estimates of $335 millions. LDI concluded: London can't afford to go it alone on its north expressway and urged the Mayor to improve external links by leading a rally to have the Province sponsor a Regional Transportation Plan.
As the newly self-proclaimed Capital of the Southwest, London should be ready to push the more practical and affordable alternative to the in-city-out-of-city agri-expressway. Indeed, all municipalities have to turn a new leaf ...and focus on connections instead of separations.
An inter-city freeway with ramps at Clark/Airport Rd and at a connected Westdel/Denfield Rd completes the north ring at minimal local expense -and just as importantly, benefits the counties.
Simple and straight-forward, yes, but it takes exceptional resolve to get municipalities to work together for the collective good. Voters will have to persist in e-mailing editors, their Mayors, MPPs and MPs.
Sent to the press in Exeter, St Marys, Strathroy & Stratford in March 2005 ...and appeared in the Lononer Apr 20, 05

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Friday, March 18, 2005

Mass Transit & Trade Corridors

All agree high-speed rail has priority over new freeways inside large cities. Still, this does not mean bullet trains are appropriate or affordable in medium-sized cities or in servicing vast but separated trading areas of the continent.
Convertible and SUV lovers now find they have to share their romance of the road with exhaust-spewing 18-wheelers. Via freeway networks these monster rigs help get food to the table, raw materials to factories and finished goods to consumers.
The urban planner's solution to resulting road congestion is densified housing along transit-served arterial roads. But, the children of families relegated by income to reside in such areas suffer the most from poor air quality. See Californian's lament about costs of free trade:
The boomer bulge pushed subdivisions beyond the range of mass transit. To paraphrase those old Caterpillar ads, "There are no easy solutions ...just tough decisions." In the absence of intelligent decisions on birth control and immigration we continue to build houses, factories, schools and supporting infrastructure. And, where the run to the job takes 40 minutes by stop-and-go bus or 10 minutes by car, few will spend an extra 5 hours a week on a bus.
Within a generation the motor replaced the horse. Soon the gasoline and diesel that powers today's engines will be replaced. So, don't feel guilty about your present mobility; just be prepared to welcome cleaner motive power over the next few decades ...and support staking out a future trade corridor north of London.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Surprise! London is # 3

Cheer up sno-birds, global warming is putting London on the map. Although we still shovel snow for four months, London Ontario is a great place to retire -at least according to Geography Professor, Dr. Warren H. Bland. The well-traveled prof just published a 300 page book, Retire in Style: 60 Outstanding Places across the U.S.A. and Canada.
On his 12-point ranking, London comes in 3rd, behind 1st place Victoria, BC and 2nd place Boulder, Colorado.
For the full scoop on London, the Chamber of Commerce and the big real estate offices can order the book; the rest of us can start with a book review by Robert H. Bruss.