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Airport Cities

— San Diego might be a model city of the future with an airport at its center, even though the location of Lindbergh Field is more of a mistake than a triumph of planning. I say this after having seen a review of the new book called Aerotropolis.

The authors argue the classic shape of the city – radiating from a central business area with neighborhoods, suburbs and exurbs and an airport on the edge – is being dramatically changed by airports themselves. Airports are becoming the middle of town. An airport is like a massive object put on a flat surface that weighs it down and causes all things to roll toward it.

The book gives several examples. Dulles airport seemed so far from the center of the Washington D.C. area until that airport became a magnet that drew industry to Fairfax County. In Minneapolis, my old stomping grounds, it’s now absurd to see the airport as being south of town. It is truly at the center of the metro area.

The wild card in the urban planning card game is the financial and environmental cost of fossil fuels, whose abundance has turned air travel into just another form of mass transportation. The freewheeling shape-shifting we’ve seen in urban America won’t last forever if we can’t find a new energy paradigm. Incidentally… I just paid $4.01 for a gallon of gas at the Sinclair station near UCSD.

Comments

Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | March 9, 2011 at 6:57 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Tom: I think we are approaching the verge of a post-petroleum -based transportation era. The reality is that political instability is likely to be a significant ongoing problem in many of the chief oil-producing countries-Libya, just one example, affecting SUPPLY ADVERSELY. Many more potential Libyas are out there. **At the same time DEMAND will soar as countries like China and India will compete with the US and Europe with greatER aggressiveness to procure adequate oil to satisfy the needs of their burgeoning economies.I think that the chart of the price of a barrel of oil will continue in just one direction (UPWARD) from now on.

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Avatar for user 'Greg Duch'

Greg Duch | March 9, 2011 at 7:05 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

TOM: Increased oil prices will affect air travel as well as auto travel. Airlines will be squeezed by increasing costs for jet fuel. Airlines will have to pass along the cost of increased fuel prices to the traveling public; or airlines will go bankrupt. I think that the airlines are in for hard economic times ahead, for an indefinite period. I fear that for jet fuel costs, the sky may be the limit!

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Avatar for user 'brixsy'

brixsy | March 9, 2011 at 8 p.m. ― 3 years, 5 months ago

Good analysis, Greg, I am overjoyed and fearful that you may be right. The shortage will propel us forward scientifically and environmentally, yet it will have an economic toll of some sort

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