Sunday, June 5th, 2011

Replay: Metropolitan Linkages

[ The New York Times ran an article recently discussing the trend of big city law firms hiring non-partner track attorneys in smaller cities to handle routine work at lower cost. It reminded me of this post where I floated a similar idea back in 2009. I hope you enjoy – Aaron. ]

In my kickoff of the year of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Burnham Plan in Chicago, I argued that while Chicago was performing well in a globalized world, it was only riding the wave of globalization and wasn’t defining its own uniquely successful future, one where it first and most fully grasped the implications of our new world. I also promised ideas on where to look to do that, starting with re-embracing its own unique culture and identity, resisting homogenization.

Today I start a four part mini-series looking at another opportunity area. It’s been widely noted that globalization has worked to separate global cities from their traditional city-regions. Indeed, Chicago and others have almost deliberately turned their back on their past in this manner to focus exclusively on the global conversation. With most global cities doing that, the question immediately comes to mind: is there overlooked opportunity in the hinterland? I argue that there might be, and I’ll look at two specific items: metropolitan linkages and on shore outsourcing. Each of these will have a main article with a follow-on more fully discussing a particular aspect. Today, we talk about metropolitan linkages.

There have been many calls for greater cross-regional (or “mega-regional” or “pan-Midwest”) cooperation. The idea is that similar challenges beset the Midwest as a whole and they are best solved collectively. There’s a certain surface appeal to this, but I’ve been reluctant to accept it before. The basis of my argument is in my previous posting “Mega-Skepticism“. My problem is fundamentally that people don’t explain what it is we are actually supposed to do to implement cross-regional collaboration, and there are few tangible benefits offered for it. Consider: we’re told to build a Midwest high speed rail network. Ok, but so what? I built it. What does it do for me? What does this allow Minneapolis and Chicago to do today, for example, that hourly shuttle flights on multiple airlines don’t? What’s going to be different once it’s built? This is the great unanswered question. We must be able to articulate the value levers we want to pull (for example, scale economics, specialization, or purchasing power) and why and how places will take advantage of them.

Having the Midwest try to work as a whole is a “boil the ocean” type solution. I’m not convinced rural areas, small towns, small manufacturing cities, and larger cities intuitively have enough common ground to try to create fully common solutions. Even among just the Midwest’s large cities, there is incredible diversity. Again, how much in common do Chicago, Detroit, and Columbus have? And to do so so would require enormous trust and consensus building.

So what I’m going to suggest today is that we narrow our focus to specific city pairs, and see if we can articulate a basis for cross-regional cooperation. For my example, I’m going to use Chicago-Milwaukee and Chicago-Indianapolis. Why? Several reasons:

  • They are all cities that have the minimum scale to have economies that can operate effectively in the globalized world. Indeed, Chicago is a successful global city, Indianapolis is by many measures the most successful city in the Midwest, and Milwaukee is hanging in there. This isn’t a “dinosaurs mating” type situation where a bunch of failing cities try to band together. Rather, it is looking at reasonably successful places. Can they enhance their success even further through cooperation?
  • Chicago is the logical place to start because it was historically the dominant city of the Midwest. To envision a highly successful cross-regional collaboration that does not somehow involve Chicago is hard to do. Also, because Chicago is such a unique place in the Midwest, smaller cities like Indy and Milwaukee don’t have to feel bad about playing second fiddle in some respects. Those places know they aren’t Chicago. Whereas trying to get the “3C’s” in Ohio to agree on things would be much tougher. I use the term “hinterland” in the title deliberately, despite its pejorative connotations. That’s because I think there may be opportunities to re-create a true urban hierarchy in some ways.
  • These cities are highly complementary, especially Chicago and Indy. That is, each is strong where the other is weak. This means they are not natural competitors and there is reason to believe that specialization and the division of labor – one of the key advantages of scale – can work. By contrast, Indianapolis and Columbus are nearly identical cities. Specialization is harder for them to do, so there would have to be another basis for cooperation to have benefits.
  • Their common culture eases the path of cooperation. America 2050 has an interesting framework for relationships that create mega-regional linkages. Their relationships include environmental systems and topography, infrastructure systems, economic linkages, settlement patterns and land use, and shared culture and history. It is easy to see how these apply here.
  • They are geographically close, which would seem to simply matters. I include both Indy and Milwaukee because in fact Milwaukee is so close that it is possibly experiencing the “sixth borough effect” we’ve see in NYC and Philly, where Chicago’s massive growth is just taking Milwaukee into its orbit. Indy provides a control study for that to make sure we are dealing truly cross-regionally

Considering these cities, we now have to ask ourselves the question: how do they cooperate? The globalized economy seems to have two sorts of operations: one tends towards “flattening”, where routinized operations like manufacturing or answering phone calls can be done anywhere in the world. The other is towards “spikeyness” and valuing the face-to-face interactions of highly creative people in the cores of places like Chicago. Is there an model somewhere between them that we can imagine?

Richard Florida just issued a call in this month’s Atlantic Monthly to build “rail connectivity within the mega-regions. There are the fast trains along the Boston/New York/Washington corridor that have allowed Washington, in effect, to become a commuter suburb of greater New York. But how about a place like Detroit? If Detroit were better connected to Chicago, one could imagine Detroit having a better reason for existing. Or Pittsburgh. If Pittsburgh were better connected to Chicago or even to Washington, D.C.—it’s only a four-hour drive—that could spur growth.” I won’t use his example cities, but will assume in our example that we’ve got high speed rail between Chicago and Milwaukee and Chicago and Indy that provides a terminal to terminal journey time of 90 minutes. In the case of Milwaukee, this is actually already true – future rail upgrades will only shave that time down even further.

What could we imagine the benefits of this being? I see two: a labor force play and a division of labor play.

The labor force argument goes something like this. You’ve got these highly creative jobs in Chicago. But not everybody is a trader at the Merc making megabucks. There’s a lot of joe average type white collar jobs too. Many of these pay solidly, but the quality of life you can purchase for the money in Chicago might not be the greatest. Chicago may not have high taxes and housing prices compared to the coasts, but its does compared to the Midwest. Some people crave urban excitement, shopping at Neimans, the opera, etc., but a huge number just go home to the suburbs. I’ve long argued that if you don’t take advantage of the things that only Chicago gives you, and are just trying to live an average suburban lifestyle, that’s crazy. Why pay the premium to live in a Chicago suburb in terms of housing, taxes, and above all congestion when you aren’t getting much more than you’d get elsewhere? Obviously lots of people are asking themselves that question, because Chicago’s metro area had net domestic outmigration to the tune of 57,000 people last year – a pace of almost 600,000 per decade. Of those, a net 7,000 moved to Indianapolis in just the last few years. Now I don’t know the makeup of this. Some of it may be second order Latino immigration or something. But I’ve got to believe some of it is Chicago’s precious talent bleeding away because they cost/benefit isn’t worth it to them.

Now consider what a 90 minute train ride does to the equation. If you are a suburb dweller who loves that lifestyle, you can now move to someplace like Carmel, Indiana outside Indianapolis. You cut your living costs dramatically and increase your quality of life. Plus, you can realistically commute to Chicago, at least 2-3 days a week. That’s a PITA in a car @ three unproductive hours, but when you can work on the train for 90 minutes with wi-fi, it’s a different story, even with collection/distribution tacked on at each end. Combine this with modern flexible work arrangements and you’ve got the makings of an extended labor pool. It could be a win-win-win. Chicago gets the access to talent it would otherwise lose. The worker is happy with access to both great job opportunities and higher quality of life. And Indy get the imported income and improved connectivity to the global economy via Chicago. I already know several people who routinely make the trip up and down I-65 in car or fly every single week. It is easy to imagine this exploding with 90 minute train service with wi-fi and electric power outlets. This both makes the time productive and makes it feasible to do daily commuting, skipping the hotels, nights away from home and other assorted costs.

A similar effect could happen with Milwaukee. Indeed, I already see people commuting down from Milwaukee. But I imagine a separate demographic. To me, Milwaukee is a bit of a “mini-me” Chicago. So what you get are people who want the more urban lakefront experience, but can’t afford or don’t want to pay for Chicago. You are already seeing this happen a bit I think. Same dynamics apply.

The other direction, think about what it does for Indy and Milwaukee in terms of ability to attract their labor force. Both cities have dramatically upgraded their offerings from the day when you couldn’t get a good meal or a decent cup of coffee. Both of them now have a nearly full spectrum of urban amenities. But what they are missing is that creme-de-la-creme. They don’t have elite international opera or true high end shopping. But by putting Chicago within easier daytrip reach via train (imaging sipping champagne on the trip back from your Oak St. spree), Chicago’s amenities become more accessible to people in those other cities. This helps them in recruiting people as well. Oh, and those Chicago workers can now work “domestically” if there is an option. Increasing the labor supply even further. And, people who come to work locally might be more willing to do so knowing that commuting to Chicago (again, only part time using flexible working arrangements as is becoming more common) means they aren’t captive to the “only game in town” for employment prospects in a smaller market like Indy or Milwaukee.

I don’t know if this will really work out or not, but it seems surface plausible – if you had the rail connections at true high speed service levels and the right amenities and price point. This might not involve huge numbers, but it might not take a huge number to move the needle if it is the right kind of people with the right skill sets.

The second point involves re-establishing the regional division of labor. As Chicago becomes more specialized, and its urban core more successful, that will push costs up in that city, making creative but lesser value-added functions less competitive. Is there an opportunity to offload some of that to an Indy or Milwaukee where the highest functions are done in Chicago but lower value added – but still high knowledge worker content, creative type work – is done in those other cities?

Again, as I said in my original posting, I can’t promise The Answer, only an exploration of the problem space. I want to use one sample industry to consider this: law. One, it is harder to offshore legal work I think. Even my own employer won’t let routine work be passed on by someone who isn’t domestic. Two, I was intrigued by something I noticed something the other week when I saw Tristan und Isolde at the Lyric Opera. I opened up the program guide and what did I see but a full page ad for Barnes and Thornburg. This is one of the largest law firms in Indianapolis, yet they have a full page ad in Chicago. I’m told they have a rather large office in Chicago too. What is the reason for this? It could just be expanding where the action is. On the other hand, is there a basis for cooperation between law firms where a large international Chicago firm is the lead firm handling the orchestration and most complex portions of the work there while sending some work to lower cost firms in Indy and Milwaukee, using those firms’ Chicago points of presence and the capability for easy face-to-face meetings to make it happen?

I don’t know a lot about the law business, but I do know that they are under enormous price pressure and even many very successful firms are doing layoffs. I expect a major transition where old school type relationships don’t necessarily translate into premium pricing opportunities anymore when there is lower cost competition for what is effectively commodity work in many cases. I’ve seen this in other industries and it seems reasonable that is could happen in law. Could this ability to tap a “near shore” pool of lower cost lawyers give Chicago firms an advantage? It might be the only elite city in the country where you can get access to a far lower cost point just by going beyond the immediate metro area.

I’ll admit, I’m speculating here, but it is the general concept that is important. It goes something like this. The most specialized components are in Chicago where it justifies the cost of being in the Loop. Specialized but less value added work that nevertheless requires close coordination, time-zone commonality, and potentially significant face to face meetings are in Milwaukee or Indy. I don’t know for sure what, if anything might be out there that fits this. Maybe law, maybe something else, or maybe nothing. But those to me seems the characteristics of the types of work that would lead to cross-regional collaboration.

If you are able to make these two cross-regional items work with Chicago, Indy, and Milwaukee, then you can look to see if they scale up or extend across distances.

So the question is, how do you go about making these sorts of relationships happen? Good question again. I don’t have the answers. But perhaps this is where the “holding conferences” aspect of mega-regionalism comes in. That is, you get business, academic, community, and political leaders talking to each other, establishing trust, and seeing what collaborations might form. This also brings up another good point as to how to implement it. Chicago has long been the magnet for young, ambitious people from the greater Midwest. Look at all the Big Ten sports bars in Chicago for an example of that. So can you mobilze those expatriate or diaspora communities to form the “glue of the relationship”? I noted before the concept of the “urban alumni association“. Something like this could be leveraged to help forge those business and cultural relationships. In fact, there is already an organization called the Indiana Society of Chicago. I believe this is mostly a networking club. Could organizations like this, plus Big Ten alumni associations, be used as a catalyst to make things happen?

I think this is an area that warrants further research and discussion. The general idea is to figure out how to give Chicago’s companies competitive advantage through an expanded labor pool and potentially lower cost operations that don’t involve the messy coordination of a far flung network. At the same time, it provides mutually beneficial returns to smaller cities in the region.

Reconnecting the Hinterland – Additional Previous Entries:
1B – High Speed Rail
2A – Onshore Outsourcing
2B – On Innovation

This post originally appeared on February 11, 2009.

62 Comments
Topics: Economic Development, Globalization, Public Policy, Regionalism, Talent Attraction, Transportation
Cities: Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee

62 Responses to “Replay: Metropolitan Linkages”

  1. Chris Barnett says:

    John, when I checked Amtrak’s website, it looked as if the Keystone is scheduled approximately hourly from 5am to midnight from Philadelphia to Harrisburg. There are 14 trains/day. It would appear to be scheduled to meet demand and priced competitively with driving.

    Wad, the Philadelphia-Paoli-Exton-Downingtown-Coatesville-Parkesburg-Lancaster-Harrisburg run is only about 100 miles; all of those Chester and Lancaster County towns are either suburbs or exurbs of Philadelphia, Lancaster, or Harrisburg.

    We’re back to “density, concentration, and congestion”. Lo and behold, the length of the Main Line is already being upgraded to US-class HSR. It makes sense there: Harrisburg/Carlisle metro is about 600K; Lancaster is another 500K; Philadelphia CSA 6.5 million.

  2. John Morris says:

    I actually agree with you about relative congestion being a huge factor.

    The bottom line with deciding to drive is often more about how needed-covenient the car is at the end of the trip-which again gets back to urban design.

    The exurban developments around Philly like Valley Forge are of course not exactly well suited to getting to by train. Paoli is also a place where you need a car.

    The bottom line with all these places is one has a very conflicted and confused design situation–partly rail oriented but mostly not. My guess a on a few Philly suburban stops-you are lucky if there’s a sidewalk.

    I’m not an expert on Chicago-but I don’t think it’s a good comparison to Chicago. Chicago has I think the second best transit system in the nation and while it’s far behind NY is the second area of the country one would consider traveling to without a car. Philly as far as I know-has some commuter rail but no real quality inner city transit.

  3. John Morris says:

    I tend to agree that if Indianapolis is not going to design for much more density and non car oriented development near the station-the point of doing this is questionable. Sounds like a traveler from Indy to Chicago, might not need a car and find it a burden, but the traveler to Indy will need a car when they get there. Renting may be a big factor.

    I also agree that we can’t afford all of this. Clearly, what I see is a total decline of the suburban road infrastructure and much more efficient development patterns.

    If it were up to me-the solution would be simple–just defund the roads at least beyond the local level. Quickly, the surviving roads would be fairly expensive privately owned toll roads-which likely would not compete well with privately owned and designed passenger rail.

    We already have something approximating this in Asian cities like Hong Kong.

    Am I thrilled about creating another state operated infrastructure entitlement? No. Do I think real economic logic will be the primary consideration in design? No.
    The current quality of Amtrak speaks for itself.

  4. Chris Barnett says:

    Re: Philly suburbs/exurbs: There are what I would consider historic village centers at each stop on the Main Line to Paoli, and many residences, shops, restaurants, offices, and businesses are within walking distance of the stations. There are sidewalks. (I am not a “typical American” when I consider walking distance, though. I have no problem with a mile walk at either end of a train ride.) Note that it’s between 1.5 and 2 miles from Devon or Berwyn station to Valley Forge Rd. or Chesterbrook at the Route 202 corridor; there are taxi and car services. So it’s not as bleak as you might imagine for the occasional visitor.

  5. John Morris says:

    Yes, there are old towns–Downingtown is nice-but isn’t the bulk of development pretty car oriented? Most business is more in places like Valley Forge.

    Ever seen the parking garages in Harrisburg? Doesn’t look like the town has much else. Government buildings, a freight yard, a few blocks of old houses and tons and tons of parking. Not surprisingly, Harrisburg which is very small, is bankrupt.

    All of this is changing somewhat and I think there are more moves to design around the rail lines more.

    Anyway, I don’t think these are good comparisons to Chicago-Indy where one has one city that is quite transit oriented and another where density could be built up. But I really don’t know Indy.

  6. John Morris says:

    I think my impression as a very casual person who has visited Valley Forge a few times in my life and gone past the area on this rail line many times is somewhat important.

    Yes, the person who knows the area well, might consider it OK to not have a car, but the occassional visitor is likely to think like me, that it’s just much easier to have one.

  7. Wad says:

    Chris Barnett wrote:

    I’d argue that the Keystone and Hiawatha are supported by the three conditions I posited: density, concentration, and congestion.

    How can you show it, though?

    First, you need to give a definition of density, concentration and congestion, and what units of measurement you are counting. Is density population density per square mile? Job density? Concentration of what and how much of it? What congestion are you measuring? Throughput on the nearest parallel freeway?

    Now, I found this fact sheet on the Hiawatha from the NARP website.

    I have a couple of questions, and want to know if they can be defended by “density, concentration, congestion?”

    1. It’s no surprise that the top two origin-destination pairs involve Chicago and Milwaukee (one is General Mitchell Airport). They are the tent poles of the line. But why does Sturtevant, Wisconsin, have 3 top station pairs? Ditto for Glenview, Illinois?

    According to the Census, Sturtevant has a population of 6,000. Glenview has 46,000. Why do these towns produce top ridership pairs? (I have a theory on Sturtevant; I’d like to hear yours.)

    2. What are Amtrak riders doing at Mitchell Airport? (It’s not a duh! answer. I think it’s interesting to find out people who are going to the airport but not flying anywhere.)

    3. How are passengers arriving or departing the respective stations? Chicago is the only city with a comprehensive mass transit system of buses, urban rail and commuter rail. Milwaukee County has an unremarkable bus-only system.

    4. What is the user profile of Hiawatha riders? What percentage is business (including commuting) and leisure? What is the age distribution?

    5. The most significant jumps in ridership occurred from 2004-2005 and 2007-2008. Annual ridership jumped from 451,100 in 2004 to 515,500 in 2005 (+14%). There was an even more impressive leap from 585,200 to 736,100 from 2007 to 2008 (+26%). Why?

    The frequency of service is a byproduct of demand, not a cause. (At some point, adding trains won’t call out enough marginal demand to justify the expense.)

    When the U.S. understanding of modern railroading is limited to the Amtrak experience, we’re not getting the right feedback. Is a train a day an accurate reflection of the public desire to ride?

    The answer: No. The proof: Corridor trains like the Hiawatha.

    The marginal demand test looks at ridership, revenue and productivity. Going from one train a day to two, for instance, your first goal would be to see if ridership would double for the doubling of service.

    A doubling of ridership, though, keeps revenue and productivity flat. Doubling services doesn’t make any more money if ticket prices don’t rise. Productivity, or passengers per fixed time/distance per train, also is flat because each train is doing the same amount of work.

    Also, growth tends to be the largest when starting from the lowest base. So going from one train to two might go well beyond doubling ridership, but going to four trains would see less growth, and so on.

    I’m not sure what the frequency is for planes or trains, which are scheduled for runs per day. For transit, which divides a clockface, the marginal demand tends to disappear past the 15-minute mark. That’s usually at the point when passengers command a schedule to memory and tend not to plan trips. Going from hourly to 30-minute service yields big improvements, but it’s harder to go from 15 minutes to 7.5 minutes because by that point, everybody who wants to use the service is riding already.

  8. Wad says:

    Chris, for further reading, here are some stats for other corridor trains.

    Cascades (Eugene, Oregon to Vancouver, BC): This is a service that is even busier than the Hiawatha, which serves a larger population. The largest trip pairs are between the Portland-Seattle metro areas. No. 1 is Portland-Seattle (186 mi.), No. 3 is Portland-Tacoma (146 mi.), No. 4 is Seattle-Vancouver the lesser (176 mi.) and No. 7 is Olympia/Lacey-Portland (114 mi.).

    No. 2 is Seattle-Vancouver the greater (160 mi.), and this would likely include a delay for customs theater. Going up that way, too, is No. 6 Seattle-Bellingham (98 mi.). Portland to Vancouver the greater, a trek of 346 miles, rounds out the top 9.

    Piedmont. This is the North Carolina service that added a train and saw a 46% increase in ridership. The actual ridership is tiny, though (98,000 total in 2010) and its average speed is only 55 mph. It connects the state’s three major population centers with three trains daily. The third train is the Carolinian, which continues to the Northeast Corridor.

    The highest ridership pairs are Charlotte-Raleigh (173 mi.), Charlotte-Durham (147 mi.) and Charlotte-Greensboro (89 mi.). The triad area (Greensboro/High Point) produces five of the top 9 station pairs.

    Intra-NC service along the Carolinian accounts for four of the top 9 pairs: No. 1 is Charlotte-Raleigh, No. 3 is Greensboro-Raleigh, No. 5 is Charlotte-Durham and No. 8 is Charlotte-Greensboro. Ridership is much higher on the Carolinian (301,000 annual boardings), but there is high demand to Washington and New York and it skews the results.

    And finally, the California corridors: <a href="http://www.narprail.org/cms/images/uploads/fels/trains/35.pdf"Pacific Surfliner, Capitol Corridor and San Joaquin. These are the second, third and fifth busiest corridors in the U.S. Most of the high-speed rail project is going to upgrade the San Joaquin corridor, and the busiest corridor (L.A. to San Diego) will likely be approached inland, not the current pretty coastal route.

  9. Alon Levy says:

    They are the tent poles of the line. But why does Sturtevant, Wisconsin, have 3 top station pairs? Ditto for Glenview, Illinois?

    Because the Hiawathas only make 5 stops.

  10. Wad says:

    John Morris wrote:

    Rail is an inherently pro urban type asset able to bring large numbers of people, fast to a single point–with no further needs.

    Pro urban, but still a nuisance in its own way. You want to be near a station, but not near the tracks. Even electric trains are heavy enough to shake surroundings. HSR also produces wind noise.

    To take that kind of a huge asset and put it somewhere it can’t create much more than a park and ride lot and a few low office parks is a massive waste.

    What I’ve read, this is what France did with its HSR network. Granted, France is so economically and culturally centralized that the point is to get much of France to Paris, but outside of the Parisian city region, the fastest class of HSR service serves a beetfield station far outside of the traditional central city. French cities then focused planning efforts on creating a secondary CBD and linking the traditional and rail centers like a dumbbell.

    There’s a big risk in doing this, and the odds are high of doing it wrong. Namely, by concentrating a new central business district around a rail station, a city region might not be economically robust enough to support two districts, and business will just shift over to the new buildings while leaving the old area to go to seed.

    I do not see the point of rail connections to any locations where dense development cannot happen.

    I can think of two reasons.

    1. The real estate market is going to be toast for a long time, possibly a whole generation. It’s going to take a long time to extract the venom from the bubble and crash.

    2. The next great railroad era is not going to be like the first great railroad era (1800s-1900s). High-speed rail would not be the catalyst to settle the wilderness. It’s going to be about narrowing the distance between established city regions.

    This means development will not mean sprouting cities from wilderness. What will more likely happen is value shifts.

    This has occurred in urban areas since the beginning of civilization. It’s the process of rising land values attracting higher economic values while lower economic values leave high-cost land areas for lower cost areas, and thereby transferring lower values in the process.

    It’s a well-understood phenomenon. The first cities developed around depots that facilitated trade. The cities were surrounded either by agriculture or wilderness. When there was too much demand for a particular location, the economic functions that could no longer afford to maintain or expand their properties would find available land in the surrounding hinterland. What had become a low value in urban lands becomes high value compared with crops or open space.

    Usually, it’s the farms that move farther and farther away from the city, and ultimately, they are no longer even connected to their urban markets. Later on, the process occurred with industries. In the industrial era, a major manufacturer was located near the heart of the city. The rise of central business districts and a professional class of worker built up land prices, so now the factories move to the urban edge. A factory may be a poor use of land downtown, but it’s a higher value compared to the agricultural land it has replaced.

    The next rail era would produce these value shifts, but on the scale that matches the speed and reach of a train. The distances would be much more vast.

  11. Wad says:

    Alon, how does a community of 7,000 (Sturtevant) support a train station? The population density comes in two levels: 908 p/sq.mi. and 109 p/sq.mi.

    The per-capita ridership must be off the charts. :)

    Oh, and just for fun:

    Annual train usage of Sturtevant (pop. 7,000): 70,737
    Annual train usage of Indianapolis (pop. 780,000): 31,343

    Population density of IND’s train station: 1,335 p/sq.mi.
    Density immediately north of station: 3,023 p/sq.mi.
    Density immediately east of station: 5,624 p/sq.mi.
    Density immediately southeast of station: 7,606 p/sq.mi.

    Service to Sturtevant: 7 roundtrips daily
    Service to Indianapolis: Hoosier (1 trip four times a week) and Cardinal (1 trip three times a week)

    Top destination of Sturtevant: Chicago (62 mi.)
    Top destination of Indianapolis: Chicago (196 mi.)

  12. John Morris says:

    You don’t want to be near a train line- but you expect dense development near an airport-where potential noise issues are likely 50 times worse? Also compare it to highways where the relative impact is also vast.

    As to the real estate bubble–it is huge but to a very large extent was/is a suburban phenomena-concentrated in lower density residential and single use office parks and strip malls. Dense rail oriented districts of the type that might be developed are on a nationwide basis are in very, short supply.

    The issue of flooding is important–and (duh) should be by far the largest single priority of riverfront towns instead of stadiums and other distractions. In some cases, designing around this might be important, but I can’t see where terminals at airports are a good idea at all.

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