The University of Arizona

SCP Project Director Linda C. Samuels was selected to receive a Faculty Research Grant from the University of Arizona's Renewable Energy Network. The grant will be utilized to explore more sustainable alternatives to the limited-use focus of the typical interstate highway. Part of the larger CANAMEX project intended to link Canada and Mexico through the United States, this research provides a unique opportunity to reimagine the old infrastructure paradigm. WIth a long-term goal of globally defining the next generation of infrastructure, the project will attempt to answer research questions such as: how to broaden the freeway design process; how to transform the freeway prototype, and; how to transform the infrastructure paradigm.

By now it seems like old news: our infrastructure is failing. From the catastrophic post-Katrina levee breaches in New Orleans to the sudden collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, the less-than-mediocre state of U.S. infrastructure has attracted significant attention in the last few years. In its "Report Card for America's Infrastructure," the American Society of Civil Engineers substantiates this concern with dismal grades — in 2009 our infrastructure earned an overall average of D. 

 

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Throughout American history, large-scale public works have represented our collective optimism. The Interstate highways unify the country not only by connecting it coast to coast but also by elevating speed and mobility to the status of national entitlement. Similarly, we  expect our networks of local streets to serve us functionally, formally and symbolically — to establish a sense of order and hierarchy, to orient us within cities and operate as spaces for social connection. Together high-speed expressways and city streets bookend our understanding of roads in the production of public space.

 

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