March 2, 2015

Really Bad Ideas from All Over: Mexico

Another item in Eric Britton’s ….

World Streets Worst Practices Department



This splendid rendering of a proposed new age mobility enhancement mega-project, purportedly intended to calm the chaos of traffic in Mexico City. …

If we read their rendering correctly the international construction firm behind this excellent project are proposing a total of ten comfortable lanes for cars. Nice! And those sturdy (one hopes) edges they call “Tableta” are the bits that keep all that steel and glass from tumbling down onto the street. (Additional background here and here.)

What chances do you think the hapless (and only) ped (bottom right) has of actually making his way across the street?


Mexico City has already gone someway towards that vision:



The upper freeway is a separate toll road from the Periférico below.  It’s colloquially called the segundo piso (‘second floor’), where those who pay can literally drive over those caught in the congested traffic.

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  1. Some context is missing i.e. how bad are the roads today ?

    Surely in a city of 20M+ they need more roads AND more rapid transit.

    Like Vancouver.

    It is not one or the other in a growing city. Vancouver is lacking both: not enough road capacity (Lionsgate bridge too small, Hwy 1 to Abbotsford too small, SFPR too small, bridges and tunnels clogged) nor real rapid transit (not enough subways are proposed in this new “decongestion” plan). Perhaps we can learn a thing or 2 from Mexico City ?

    1. Imagine a government operated burger stand that sold free gourmet burgers and then argued that because there were massive lineups for the free gourmet food, it justified bulldozing productive businesses, building more free burger stands, giving away more free burgers, and raising taxes to fund it all. If it were burgers we would see the folly, but somehow if it’s a road, we see it as exempt.

      Question Thomas – would you want to live or work next to one of these 3 level highways? If not, where are we accounting for the destruction in property values that will occur on the land nearby? It seems reasonable to ask the users to pay for this.

      1. Of course I do not want to live besides a highway, who does. But: any city needs highways. And in a city of 20M+ which is Mexico City it needs many. I do not know the context here, i.e. what their freeway system looks like today. I can only imagine it is grid locked, like LA but I do not know.

        Roads are by and large funded through gasoline taxes, but within cities that has its limits due to little gasoline used for 4 km, or emerging e-cars, hybrid cars or fuel efficient cars. As such I agree that roads in clogged areas like cities should not be free, but keep in mind that almost everybody benefits from roads, and as such free roads provide huge benefits. If you toll every road, all goods and services would be more expensive. Perhaps they should lower income taxes or PST to compensate for it as they are far too high. To total tax burden should not be increased, just shifted, for example to non-working / non-income paying immigrants that buy multimillion $ properties but pay no income taxes (yet consime education and healthcare services) – a gross mismatch in Vancouver and Richmond today.

        Not everyone can or will use transit, so we have to keep in mind that a large portion of society will always use roads, and then price their expensive use into their services or goods sold.

        My argument here, and elsewhere is that we need BOTH: highways and rapid transit (and wide sidewalks and bike paths). Vancouver is lacking in all 4, so a huge backlog of infrastructure, i.e. massive investments are required. Unclear why developers do not pay more in levies or why property taxes are still so low. Someone has to pay for it, and it is the person living here and moving here (and not some provincial entity).

        The issue missing in the blog is the rights of the Vancouver charter and other city’s rights under provincial jurisdiction. They are severely curtailed, i.e. Vancouver or RIchmond cannot toll Knight Street bridge or Cambie, as the province owns this road.

        THAT should be highlighted in some blog entries by Mr. Price: the mismatch of rights, including the lack of PST, GST or income taxes flowing to cities where most people live. One example would be the province giving X $s per citizen to each city so they can fund homelessness, transit or social housing. Where is that debate ?

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