This article from Chuck Marohn, “Reconstructing the Street? Move the Curb!” is full of good wisdom. You should read it. Here are a few of my top quotes from it.
On the benefits of “moving the curb:”
You can reduce project costs, reduce long-term maintenance costs, improve safety, reduce environmental impacts, and make the surrounding neighborhood a more pleasant and financially productive place by doing one simple thing: move the curb.
On the fiscal responsibility of less pavement:
An extra foot of street pavement is the extravagant luxury good we not only don’t appreciate, but also never really wanted.
If you’re reconstructing the street, reduce the street width by moving the curb in. As far as possible. Every foot saves you money today and every year you maintain that street. Fight for less.
On the benefits of using the reclaimed space for street trees:
There is no higher-returning investment that a city can make than to plant street trees. Every dollar spent returns many multiples. Move the curbs and not only do you have the room to plant trees, but those trees also have a greater chance of survival.
And when those trees mature, they do so many things. They dramatically lower temperatures in the heat and reduce wind in the cold. They soak up water in the wet and transpire water in the dry. They make walking more pleasurable and, when planted between the sidewalk and the curb, incrementally safer.
Here in Atlanta, we have a ton of multi-lane stroads. Certainly in the metro area with our vast car-proud suburbs and exurbs, but also inside the perimeter and even in the City of Atlanta itself. We could build entire tree-lined, pedestrian-oriented boulevards in the middle of some of them and still have room for lanes for cars.
I find it hard these days to see all the pavement in this city and not see the dollar signs from construction and the debt of future maintenance.