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May 20th, 2009
The Next American System
[VIDEO] Road to the Future

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Blueprint America goes to three very different American cities — Denver, New York and Portland, and their surrounding suburbs — to look at each as a microcosm of the challenges and possibilities the country faces as citizens, local and federal officials, and planners struggle to manage a growing America with innovative transportation and sustainable land use policies.

With roads clogged and congested, gas prices uncertain, smog and pollution creating health problems like asthma, cities that once built infrastructure to serve only automobiles and trucks are now looking to innovative new forms of transportation systems — like trolleys, light rail, pedestrian walkways and bike paths.

Whether it is talking to residents pushing sustainable development in the Bronx, smart growth in Denver, or a journalist in Portland whose beat is bicycling, Blueprint America finds a common theme: America’s love affair with the car may be a thing of the past, and that may be the road to economic recovery.

  • Sascha

    I love the NYC moment at 1:46 in the first segment!

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  • bill emory

    I’d like to get a dvd to share with our local highway advocates. Is that possible?

  • Hart

    Yay, Portland!!! Booo, Denver!!!

  • Dave

    Great program. A suggestion and a question.

    Suggestion: You refer in passing to what Europe has done on creating a culture that accepts mass transit and bicycles. Show us more detail.

    Question: You are suggesting that the Federal Government help create a culture that relies less on the car, but, we just loaned the car companies a whole bunch of money that we would like paid back??? Is that like providing tax subsidies to tobacco farmers while funding anti-smoking campaigns?

  • Karen Oxman

    This was an excellent piece of work on the transportation gridlock that we face in America. I am proud that Mayor Smith, of Golden, is working very hard to make our community an example of smart growth and smart transportation.

  • Mike Cherry

    The Denver portion of this documentary was ridiculous and WRONG. Anyone that knows what Denver has been doing, knows that we currently have 39 miles of light rail and will have 120 miles of light rail and commuter rail by 2017 – stretching to all directions of the metro area (including a stop near Highlands Ranch). This will be the largest light rail system in the country when it’s complete. Denver and it’s suburbs have worked well together to develop an effective and well-managed urban growth boundary and is currently developing many mixed-use transit oriented developments at the dozens and dozens of light rail stops. There is also hundreds of miles of bike paths throughout the metro area. Denver has been used as a model for inter-governmental cooperation for light rail planning and commuter planning.

    WHAT BAD REPORTING! They should have used a Texas city – NOT DENVER!

  • David Warnock

    Robert Moses Designed the Mount Hood Freeway.

  • Kevin Kearney

    Excellent! I bike to work in FL 10 mi each way, and I teach.

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  • Casey

    this should be required viewing high students

  • Ron Youngblood

    I write the editorials for The Maui News, the island’s only daily newspaper. The publisher and I believe the island should be developing a light-rail system in order to maintain tourist appeal. For the first time, land planning is including urban boundaries to prevent sprawl and, of course, developers are trying to find a way to weasel around, delay or stop anything that would prevent the covering the island with asphalt and housing.
    “Blueprint America” has re-inspired The Maui News’ on-going commitment to mass transit and development without sprawl.
    Mahalo nui loa.

  • Joe Dunst

    Planning should include the need of farming for our food supplies…the population is expected to grow, what are we doing about this? Are we going to be dependent on imported foods? At the present time there
    really is no safeguards with “imported food inspections!”

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  • Will Toor

    This gives an interesting perspective on the Denver beltway battle. There is actually another fascinating piece to this story. Originally, the beltway proponents planned to push the last segments of the beltway much further north, near Boulder. The proponents went to a public vote to fund this in the late 1980s, and the beltway lost overwhelmingly. The proponents then changed state law to create funding mechanisms that do not require a public vote. Since then Boulder and Boulder County have bought vast tracks of land as open space, removing all of the development opportunity along the original northern route. Because of this, the proponents have moved the route to the south.The other story that is happening in Denver is around public transit. The region has devloped a good transit system in Denver itself, and one of the best small town bus systems in the country in Boulder, and has voted to build a comprehensive network of rail and bus rapid transit lines – so the picture is not quite as bleak as this documentary suggests.

  • David Byam

    Just saw ‘Road to the Future’. I thought I was the only one to want out of my car! Glad to have company. I realized 30 years ago that highways were not feasable, and when the time came to buy another house, bought one in a villiage where I can walk to the store.
    I would also like a DVD. One of my U.S. Senators is a believer; I would like to get him one, too.

  • Ryan Billings

    The Denver segment was a little unfair. The steps that region is taking as a whole in growth management is fairly progressive. As others have eluded to, the transit system current and future will be the envy of many.

  • James Rogers

    I’m so tired of being forced to drive everywhere. There’s just no choice. My house is worth much less as people move closer to transit so I can’t move. But good luck finding a bus line or riding a bike among the speeding cars. We need choice in transportation so badly.

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  • ScottG

    I moved to Portland a few months ago, and this documentary captures a lot of the reasons why the city is so unique. The lifestyle change my wife and I were able to make coming from New Hampshire is remarkable – we are now a one-car household and drive about 1-2 times/week. We can walk, bike or take public transit to 99% of the places we need to go. It really improves your quality of life.

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  • tobi

    “Blueprint America: Road to the Future” covers very different examples and possiblities regarding how we are going to live with our growing population and limited resources. I wonder if this urban/suburban planning can be discussed in terms of our healthcare system–asma, cancer, obescity, heart disease, mental health, etc?

  • Texan living in Dublin

    Thought provoking documentary about the suburban American way of life. Would like to see more information about what other countries are doing to be less dependent on cars, we are not alone. The future is now, what change are you willing to make?

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  • Joe Sample

    Wow, they compare the city of Portland with Highlands Ranch Colorado and call it Denver? Come on. The city of Denver has 600,000 people now, all infill development. 119 miles of rail for the metro area. 400 miles of off road bike trails in metro area, not counting the extensive onstreet trail system, about 1500 miles worth. They also really glossed over the history of 470. And correction, a person can bike from highlands ranch, or a nearby park and ride and its within 2 miles to a train station. Next time do a little research.

  • Jack Maher

    This show is one of the most important recent stories about what needs to be done to create a vision of a futre country where living is for all not just the wealthy. If we do not attend to transportation and spraul, the rich will do fine, but all the rest will experience severe shortages and declline in quality of life. The suburbs are not people freindly without cars in most metropolitan areas. That forces more car use, segreagation based upon access to cars etc. My grandchildren will not be able to sustain htis.

  • Jorge Soto
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