Jeff Wood
Urban Reads

Why Hasn’t Construction Seen Productivity Gains?

All the city news you can use.

By - Feb 12th, 2023 06:51 pm
Construction of an apartment building. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Construction of an apartment building. Photo by Jack Fennimore.

Every day at The Overhead Wire we sort through over 1,500 news items about cities and share the best ones with our email list. At the end of the week, we take some of the most popular stories and share them with Urban Milwaukee readers. They are national (or international) links, sometimes entertaining and sometimes absurd, but hopefully useful.

Transit costs project releases executive summary: The Transit Costs Project housed at the Marron Institute of Urban Management at NYU has released an executive summary of their findings looking at over 900 projects around the world. The authors argue that it’s important to study the costs of rapid transit projects because the ability to construct them is worth a 10% increase in economic gains across the country among other important goals. (Eric Goldwyn et al. | Transit Costs Project)

Why has construction not had productivity gains?: Ezra Klein looks again into building and construction, wondering why construction productivity is down while every other industry is up. There aren’t any single issues he can point to about the disparity but notes that it’s getting more troubling that it’s harder to build things, which in turn makes it harder to address our most pressing national issues. (Ezra Klein | New York Times)

Lessons from a successful E-bike rebate pilot: E-Bike rebate vouchers offered by Denver’s Office of Climate Action, Sustainability, and Resiliency and funded through a voter approved climate protection fund were so popular that they were gone in 20 minutes. Program officials talk about lessons learned from the successful launch so that they can be replicated elsewhere including the need to scale up after success and the importance of budget flexibility. (Maria Rachal | Smart Cities Dive)

U.S. city centers and the influx of white residents: From 2010 to 2020 many city centers around the United States saw huge influxes of white people while non-white population decreased even as white population decreased in the country as a whole. Reporters at the Washington Post looked at the specific impacts in four different neighborhoods including Treme in New Orleans, Southwest Waterfront in D.C., Northside in Denver, and Chinatown in Los Angeles. (Tara Bahrampour, Marissa J. Lang, and Ted Mellnik | Washington Post)

Cutting edge cities in biodiversity: Human settlements over time are known for reconfiguring the environment to the benefit of residents, often to the detriment of overall biodiversity. But new findings suggest that there are ways that cities can foster different plant and animal species in a way that is beneficial. Cities around the world are now embracing this and figuring out ways to enhance biodiversity to support climate goals, wellbeing, and tourism. (Eric Margolis | The New Republic)

Quote of the Week

Participation in The Line—an indoor, climate controlled mall only conceivable in a state absolutely drunk off oil money that will almost certainly never get built and, if it does get built, will come at the cost of massive human suffering—is not just an embarrassment; it should be nullify the progressive reputations of all firms involved.

Kate Wagner in The Baffler discussing The Line, a Saudi Arabian city in the desert.

This week on the podcast, we’re joined by Dr. Nadia Anderson, former director of federal affairs at INRIX to talk about what lobbyists actually do.

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Categories: Urban Reads

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