Strong Towns: advocating for solvent local communities

Strong Towns is a Brainerd, MN based non-profit that advocates for a “model of growth that allows America’s cities, towns, and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient.”

The Strong Towns mission statement continues with a list of truisms:

  • Financial solvency is a prerequisite for long term prosperity.
  • Land is the base resource from which community prosperity is built and sustained.
  • A transportation system is a means of creating prosperity in a community, not an end unto itself…

Importantly, Strong Town’s founder and lead thinker Chuck Marohn is a licensed civil engineer and urban planner.  I regularly enjoy his insights and interesting guests on the Strong Towns podcast; and I happily donated $30 for a membership to support the work.

Today on the Strong Towns blog is a common-sense plan to fund the Interstate Highway System and increase local control of transport investment by

…shift[ing] the federal gas tax entirely to maintenance of the base interstate system. Anything new — and maintaining anything beyond the base system — would need to be funded by direct user fees (I suggest a mileage charge). This would leave in place a national system funded by a national tax but provide a framework for states and localities to make their own decisions on local enhancements.

Many of America’s Rust Belt communities were marred by the effects of decisions made outside – by politicians and highway officials at the state and federal levels.

Granting localities the flexibility to asses and address their local transport needs would enable Americans to maintain a national highway, and simultaneously reduce car dependence, as cities choose to enhance the sensible urban modes – walking, biking, and transit.

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