Gov. Chris Christie’s problems with the phony “traffic study” on the George Washington Bridge, apparently intended to punish the mayor of Fort Lee for failure to offer an election endorsement, ought to be seen as a symptom of a much greater societal illness: the over-investment in a living arrangement with no future. That is the essence of the suburban matrix. It has no future because it was designed to run on cheap oil. Despite the hype broadcast during these past few years of extraordinary wishful thinking, America is not destined to become “energy independent,” “the next Saudi Arabia” or “the world’s leading oil exporter.” This is all pernicious bullshit. The raptures of shale oil arise out of the inhalations of Ponzi smoke and mirrors. America will soon learn the painful truth: Shale oil is a bubble among many financial bubbles. It will not fulfill America’s master wish: to be able to keep driving to WalMart forever.
We certainly do understand the "suburban matrix" at EOM. We call it the Growth Machine and its operators, the Great Destroyers. We also often highlight the fraud manifest in traffic studies all over the county that always turn up exactly what developers, land use lobbyists, and the unreformable majority of the county commission want to hear: that existing highways are adequate to the purpose of moving citizens and visitors from home to workplace or other destination, and where they are not adequate, simply adding lanes or driving more highways into farmland is the best choice. Their studies universally offer the best choice to those who profit from the bankrupt model of suburban sprawl in Everglades wetlands and more condos on the coast.
At the heart of America’s suburban sprawl predicament is that it has provoked a corrosive psychology of previous investment. Having poured all the treasure of the 20th century into the matrix of housing subdivisions, malls and strip malls, office parks, freeways, highways and numberless paved byways, we can’t imagine reforming it, letting go of it or getting over it. It’s our stuff and we appear to be stuck with it. The future, however, is going to compel us to live differently whether we like it or not, and we are doing absolutely nothing to prepare for that. To me, the danger of a President Christie is that he is about the last politician one might expect to recognize the nation’s tragic predicament and he is exactly the figure who will mount America’s deadly final campaign to sustain the unsustainable. He represents what amounts to a sort of national debt slavery: We will pay any price to stay where history has marooned us. One vivid example of this was Governor Christie’s decision in 2010 to cancel New Jersey’s participation in building a new commuter train tunnel under the Hudson River to relieve the unsustainable pressure on the existing 100-year-old train tunnels. He derided the project as “a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s.” Christie then diverted $4 billion from the tunnel project to New Jersey’s transportation trust fund in a bid to keep the state’s gas tax the second-lowest in the country. (New Jersey’s transit system, meanwhile, ranks among the country’s worst, and Christie has cut its funding.)
Kunstler's "Having poured all the treasure of the 20th century in the matrix of housing subdivisions…" is what we chronicle here in granular detail at EOM, focusing on financing (US Century Bank) and the web of relationships extending to local city government and the Miami-Dade county commission where spreading sprawl across buffer lands to the Everglades was viewed as a highest priority and remains so.
Today the construction mini-boomlet in downtown Miami proceeds at a furious pace. Construction crews are working around the clock to satisfy the nervousness of bankers and builders who want "in" and "out" of projects as quickly as possible. What the building boom lacks, entirely, is what downtown Miami has always lacked: a credible plan for transit to accommodate people instead of a reckless fast-forward ignoring all common sense.
"Museum Row" coupled with the Heat Arena on one side and the Genting slot machine emporium on the other is one simply fantastic example. Now there is a plan to add 750,000 square feet of retail on the other side of the Miami Heat arena. Construction will begin at the end of 2014 and will no doubt be financed by blue chip, experienced banks and builders.
Look where it is. How are people going to get there? Understand that this section of downtown Miami is served by transit that from the west and from the north boils down to one traffic lane at Biscayne Boulevard! So when Kunstler writes, "… we can’t imagine reforming it, letting go of it or getting over it. It’s our stuff and we appear to be stuck with it." he is describing Miami and Miami-Dade County to a "T".