New Town Center for Columbia

An article from the Baltimore Sun: Town aims to redraw its core
One suspects the newspaper article above is not terribly accurate or complete (“Retail and arts space, and possibly an international center for the study of small cities, would front the roadway, replacing the office towers that ring the mall complex area.” … will office really be replaced by art, maybe complemented, but not replaced), but it appears the General Growth Properties plan, which has gone through many iterations, finally begins to account for the Mall as the centerpiece of downtown, and tie it in rather than keeping it separate.
The Howard County govt plan is here (pdf).
My previous posts on Columbia are here, and here.
The meeting is tonight, alas it is not being webcast. The official website is here: Columbia Town Center

Gas May Finally Cost Too Much

From BusinessWeek Gas May Finally Cost Too Much
“Now, with nationwide gasoline prices having passed the inflation-adjusted record of $3.40 a gallon set back in 1981, the U.S. Energy Information Administration is predicting that gasoline consumption will actually fall 0.3% this year. That would be the first annual decline since 1991. ”

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

A very nice essay by Clay Shirky: Gin, Television, and Social Surplus .
It leads to the thought, just as we wasted time with Gin and TV, we also waste enormous resources while traveling that could be more productive (both personally and socially) in many other ways. Car radios, Ipods, cell phones, in-car computers help, but only go so far if we are still required to drive. (or are confined as a passenger in a system requiring frequent transfers or without adequate space). This is one reason why the DARPA urban challenge is potentially so important (in terms of leading to a fundamental change in how society operates), affecting how we spend 90 minutes a day.

Another Minnesota Bridge falls silent

The Lowry Avenue Bridge across the Mississippi has been closed: Minneapolis ‘singing’ bridge goes silent and Lowry Avenue Bridge to be shut down
It always made me nervous driving across, with the steel grates instead of a proper paved roadbed. I am sure it was fine, except I like the illusion of surface under my car, which the steel grates prevented.
Too bad they couldn’t time this with the reconstruction of Lowry Avenuetwo years ago, or have gotten the funding and design in place before they had to close it, so a year wouldn’t be wasted with a closed bridge and no construction. Some of the designs shown on the Strib article (above) look good, certainly better than the I-35W bridge.

Does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?

Minnesota ranks among worst in DWIs, study shows
“Minnesota has one of the nation’s worst drunken driving rates, said a government report that says 15 percent of adult drivers nationally report driving under the influence of alcohol in the previous year. Here are the states with the worst records:
1. Wisconsin, 26.4 percent
2. North Dakota, 26.4 percent
3. Minnesota, 23.5 percent
4. Nebraska, 22.9 percent
5. South Dakota, 21.6 percent”
Note, these are also almost exactly the states with the highest social capital according to Robert Putnam’s index (see the book Bowling Alone)
Table 4.1 Social capital scores by state
Rank State Score
1 North Dakota 1.712
2 South Dakota 1.693
3 Vermont 1.424
4 Minnesota 1.325
5 Montana 1.296
6 Nebraska 1.157
7 Iowa 0.988
8 New Hampshire 0.779
9 Wyoming 0.6710
10 Washington 0.6511
11 Wisconsin 0.5912
12 Oregon 0.57
(Source: Putnam 2000)
(Kevin Krizek and I discuss Putnam’s social capital idea in the book Planning for Place and Plexus
This raises the interesting question: does alcohol lubricate Putnam’s social capital?
From a social perspective, drinking alone at home may be better than drinking away from home. But what do I know, I am a teetotaler.