While waiting for the light to change, I had a change of heart. In the metaphors of today’s digital world, I wondered: wasn't our road building craze of the last century nothing more than a massive connectivity upgrade? After all, what are roads but a network? What is a freeway but increased bandwidth? What are cars but the iPhone of their day? In the end, is anything different but the size of it all? Aren't roads just a technologically crude version of the internet and all its modern offshoots, virtues we promote shamelessly today?
More than that, Planner's Bible says that roads, particularly interstates, undermine cities. Actually, I now think quite the opposite. Their construction accentuated the importance of cities rather than diminished them. Roads connected surrounding areas to the urban centers that supported them. Without that network, cities were purely local phenomena. With the network, cities became regional phenomena. New York stretched to New Jersey and Connecticut. Boston stretched to central Massachusetts and New Hampshire. As the reach of the city expanded, so too did access to the city.
Then, like Walter Mitty, my light turned green, and I drove on.