Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Road Trip News - rest stops and parking lots

As temperatures rise, American thoughts turn to the open road -- so here are a couple of recent media stories related to our favorite subject, road trips. You won't read these anywhere else (unless you watch Jon Stewart's Daily Show, or look really hard thru the back pages of the New York Times...)

Budgets Cuts Close Highway Rest Stops
PHOENIX — The people of Arizona kept their upper lips stiff when officials mortgaged off the state’s executive office tower and a “Daily Show” crew rolled into town to chronicle the transaction in mocking tones. They remained calm as lawmakers pondered privatizing death row.

But then the state took away their toilets, and residents began to revolt.

“Why don’t they charge a quarter or something?’” said Connie Lucas, who lives in Pine, Ariz., about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from here. “There was one rest stop between here and Phoenix, and we really needed it.”

Arizona has the largest budget gap in the country when measured as a percentage of its overall budget, and the state Department of Transportation was $100 million in the red last fall when it decided to close 13 of the state’s 18 highway rest stops.

But the move has unleashed a torrent of telephone calls and e-mail messages to state lawmakers, newspapers and the Department of Transportation deploring the lost toilets — one of the scores of small indignities among larger hardships that residents of embattled states face as governments scramble to shore up their finances.

Read the "rest," here:


And now for something completely different:

Museum Exhibit Showcases Parking Lots
(Show runs thru July 2010 in the National Building Museum, Washington DC)

Cars. We imagine them always in motion, but they spend most of their time at rest.

We have all spent time in parking garages, but we rarely stop to think about what they have meant for our cities and ourselves. House of Cars: Innovation and the Parking Garage explores the unique relationship between parked cars and the built environment and encourages visitors to see these familiar structures in a whole new way. A showcase for innovation; a training ground for the 20th century's best-known architects; and now, a new direction for sustainable city planning; the parking garage tells many stories.

As soon as there were cars, there was a parking problem, and cities responded both by finding ways to fit cars into old structures – such as carriage houses – and inventing a new building type made specifically for automobile storage. As the parking garage's building type evolved, innovative engineers explored the best ways to lay out parking places and create structural systems to accommodate both cars and people.

The parking garage may have a reputation as an eyesore, but House of Cars challenges this notion using examples of well-designed garages that add a creative tapestry to our streetscapes.


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