Embracing Broad Perspectives

I was listening to a story on NPR about young Indians abroad returning to help their country. One statement that caught my attention was the assertion that Indians who have lived in Western cultures have experienced the problems and some of the attempts to fix problems that the West has been dealing with for decades and which the Indian culture and economy are just beginning to experience as the economy there expands. Because of their perspectives from other nations they have a unique ability to help India avoid some pitfalls that the West has seen – if enough people will listen to them.

Later I was having a conversation about transportation issues in Utah and it occurred to me that the same phenomenon applies here. People in Utah who have spent appreciable time back East in areas of higher population density are much more likely to be supportive of mass transit options, tolling, and other transportation options that are often distasteful to those who have lived in the sprawling west all their lives. If those with the perspective of having lived back East are heard we might be able, as Utah continues in its rapid population growth, to avoid some pitfalls such as becoming another concrete urban jungle like Los Angeles. Only if we start making better use of transportation infrastructure options besides increasing amounts of asphalt.

Trax is good, FrontRunner is good, but lets try to make sure that such transportation options are part of the fabric of the area, not just an anomaly that feeds people into the downtown Salt lake City area.

About David

David is the father of 8 extremely organized children (4 girls / 4 boys) who is constantly seeking answers to tough questions related to parenting, education and politics while moonlighting for 40 hours each week as a technology professional. He also enjoys cooking, gardening, and sports.
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5 Responses to Embracing Broad Perspectives

  1. Jesse Harris says:

    You don’t even have to be from back east. Those of us from high-growth areas like Las Vegas and Phoenix can recount the cost in inadequate planning and investment when it comes to transportation. Most Californians can bring a similar perspective. I just hope that the “elect a local” mentality isn’t strong enough to crowd out those who’ve seen these things repeating themselves here.

  2. Cameron says:

    I went to a northern utah county transit meeting a couple of months ago, and was surprised at how many people supported big freeways and highways over mass transit. A significant portion of this part of the county commutes into salt lake every day, or even down into the provo area, and it seems like a good transit system would be best.

    In conjunction with your “out of towner” perspective piece, I was told at that meeting that Portland has a really good system. Does anyone know if that is accurate, and where I might find some information on it?

  3. David says:


    I knew that areas like Las Vegas and Phoenix had experienced high growth and that California is full of cities that dwarf Salt Lake, but I didn’t have enough experience in any of those places to know if they had overcome the asphalt first mentality that dominates here and I guess I have not talked to enough people from those places to knew what their perspective was. I had actually wondered if I Californians would have a perspective similar to those from the east coast.


    I wish I could add some insight to your Portland question, but I’ve never been there. Thanks for confirming my experience that so many in Utah just want more roads and won’t support a good mass transit addition.

  4. Jesse Harris says:

    That’s the point: those areas failed in many areas, though Las Vegas had enough foresight to build their major roads as 7-lane arterials one mile apart with 4-lane feeder roads every half mile, all laid out in a grid. Their bus service is also designed around a city with no major central business district so that it only takes a single transfer to reach most destinations. While the Wasatch Front fits into more of a centralized design, we’re starting to see a lot of businesses locate outside of downtown and we need the transportation infrastructure to start to reflect that.

  5. David says:

    We need to have more businesses locate themselves outside the downtown area. People need to be able to do a little less commuting or we’ll never keep up with the expanding transportation demands of our growing population.

    The real thing I’m looking for is the perspective of the people, not the success of the cities they come from. We need people who recognize the failures of places they have come form, and who recognize the successes in those places that may address the problems that we are heading for. That’s how we have a chance to do better on the Wasatch Front than other places have done which have been where we’re headed.

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