Planner visiting Shreveport predicts fall of nation's suburbs

Planner visiting Shreveport predicts fall of nation's suburbs

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - Many of us just accept that our homes, many in the suburbs of the nearest city, require us to drive just about everywhere we go.

While this might seem normal to us, some predict this model eventually will collapse because of soaring costs to maintain all that infrastructure.

But a nationally known speaker is visiting Shreveport with a different approach.

Almost every single aspect of our lives centers around our cars. From where we live, to that commute to work, where our children go to school, where we shop for food, even where we worship. Nearly everything requires hopping in our vehicle to get there.

It didn't used to be like this. Just ask Minnesota engineer and planner Chuck Marohn.

"We just became hyper-insane with the way we separated things."

Marohn co-founded the nonprofit Strong Towns in 2009 and now travels the country with one message: Our car-centric planning and growth in this country are unsustainable.

"Even though the way we developed today is what everybody's used to, in the context of human history it's a huge experiment."

He calls it "the growth Ponzi scheme."

The nation's aging infrastructure and massive urban sprawl are not viable in the long-run because local, state and federal governments simply can't bring in enough revenue to cover all the costs, Marohn said.

"Cities now have to maintain all these roads, all these pipes, all this sidewalk. And when you step back and look at it from the city's balance sheet, there isn't nearly enough wealth to do it."

Marohn said there is no quick fix since we've spent trillions of dollars on the highway system and urban sprawl over the past six decades. But he contends that steps can be made, little by little, to make improvements.

The local nonprofit Re-Form Shreveport invited Marohn to town today and Saturday. He was the featured speaker at a Curbside Chat and discussion this evening at Central Art Station in downtown Shreveport.

"Speakers such as Chuck Marohn that was here today and some other ones that we're looking to bring in in the future just provide a great start to just figuring out what other cities are doing," said Timothy Wright, founder of Re-Form Shreveport.

There will be block tours of several local neighborhoods Saturday starting at 10 a.m. at artspace in the 700 block of Texas Street.

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