Sprawling from Grace
Directed by David Edwards (2008)
Sprawling From Grace relates how the American dream led the US to become the only country in the world in which city planning is based around the automobile. As of 2008 when the documentary was made, the US was the only country in the world without a viable public transportation system.
Americans pay an enormous price for urban sprawl, which includes decaying urban infrastructure (cities ceased to maintain bridges, tunnels, highways, roads and public water systems long before Minnesota’s I-35 bridge collapse in 2007), air pollution, the most expensive transportation system in the world, growing climate disruption (cars are responsible for 30% of carbon emissions), depletion of scarce fossil fuel resources, growing involvement in resource-based wars in the Middle East and worsening income inequality.
The filmmakers demonstrate how a minimum level of population density is essential to make public transportation cost effective (ie a train or bus route is only cost effective is you have enough users traveling from a given location at the same time). Urban development policies that allow unlimited development along freeways lead to extremely low density, as well as higher per capita costs for other services, such as water, sewer, police and fire service, schools and hospitals.
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