Urban Transportation

March 11, 1959

Report Outline
Urgent Problem of City Transportation
Impact of Autos on Metropolitan Areas
Future of Mass Transport Facilities
Continuing Dominance of Motor Transport

Urgent Problem of City Transportation

Threatened Choking of Cities by Motor Traffic

American Cities, large and small, are searching urgently, in some cases almost desperately, for solutions to a paradoxical problem. Modern transportation, the force which more than any other has made today's city what it is, now threatens to strangle it. More than a hundred million people reside in the nation's urban areas. For them the morning and evening rush hour is a source of daily irritation and a thief of the leisure time made available by shorter working hours. Luther Gulick, president of the Institute of Public Administration and a leading authority on urban affairs, has written: “So central to metropolitan life is this problem of physical circulation of men and goods that it might be said that all the rest of our metropolitan problems would become tractable if only we might find out how to ‘solve’ the transportation problem.”

Within the past decade, nearly every major city and many smaller communities have sponsored comprehensive studies of local transportation needs. In addition, numerous national and regional conferences have attempted to grapple with the general problem. At one of the principal conferences, held at Hartford in September 1957, Dean John Ely Eurchard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology warned that the motor car, if uncontrolled, might eventually destroy the human values of the city and leave this “a nation where East Denver is undistinguishable from East San Antonio or East Buffalo.” Pyke Johnson of the Automotive Safety Foundation pointed out that streets and parking lots already took up 56 per cent of the downtown area of Detroit, yet the motorist everywhere remained “a continual hostage to a queue-line.” Victor Green, designer of suburban shopping centers, added: “With our 60 million cars with flight-swept wings, capable of doing 100 miles per hour, we have no place to go.”

National Aspects Of Local Transport Troubles

The need to harmonize local transportation plans with the federal government's vast interstate highway program was stressed strongly at the Hartford conference. The 41,000-mile federal network, scheduled for completion in 1969, is to include approximately 5,500 miles of urban expressway passing through or around most cities with a population of 50,000 or more. Close to one-half of the estimated $41 billion outlay is to be earmarked for urban highways.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jun. 21, 1985  Mass Transit's Uncertain Future
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Dec. 06, 1972  Free Mass Transit
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Apr. 24, 1963  Mass Transit vs. Private Cars
Mar. 11, 1959  Urban Transportation
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May 15, 1942  Local Transportation
Jun. 26, 1931  The Motor Bus in Local Transportation
Dec. 20, 1928  Regulation of Motor Bus Transportation
Motor Traffic and Roads
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