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A Case Study on How Not to Do a Transportation Project

The lesson of Philadelphia's South Street Bridge is that community feedback isn't a one-and-done process.
relates to A Case Study on How Not to Do a Transportation Project
Cambridge Architectural

Veteran city transportation official Rina Cutler uses four acronyms to describe public participants who tend to get involved in big urban projects. Of course there’s NIMBY. There’s also BANANA: Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone. In Philadelphia, where she served as transportation chief from 2008 to 2015, she learned two more: CAVE (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) and NOPE (Not on Planet Earth).

Obstructionism is all too common in community discourse. But sometimes project opposition isn’t the result of selfishness but rather a reflection that public officials have failed to maintain a clear, open, and regular dialogue. Take the case of Philly’s South Street Bridge—a reconstruction project that unfolded over more than a decade, during a period when the downtown and university neighborhoods directly impacted by the new span were transforming themselves.