As I read Anthony Flint’s 2009 book "Wrestling Moses, How Jane Jacobs Took On New York’s Master Builder and Transformed the American City", I kept thinking of our own battles to defeat the Intercounty Connector (ICC) in Montgomery County, Maryland. During the 1950s and 1960s Jane Jacobs managed to stop road projects (including the Lower Manhattan Expressway, AKA Lomex) that would have destroyed Washington Square Park and surrounding neighborhoods. Robert Moses held vast powers over New York’s roadways and parks from 1930's through 1970's. Moses used those offices and various questionable tactics to get his way in building roads through NY parks and neighborhoods. As these highways were planned the communities lost value in anticipation of pollution, noise, and shadowing, which were realized when the highways were built. Mrs. Jacobs engaged her neighbors, local leaders, and newspapers and ultimately prevented Mr. Moses from destroying Washington Square Park and the neighborhood.
There are parallels with our situation and differences. The biggest difference is that Jane Jacobs was able to stop the Lomex and many other bad projects, but the ICC is being built. However, Montgomery County planners are eying even more roads and road "improvements" such as widening the Beltway and I-270. By learning the lessons of these past battles, we can improve our odds in preventing future travesties.