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Bringing "Agile Development" from software engineering to city planning

"It’s a methodology question. There are highly successful companies out there—brand names that we all know—that changed their methodology from large design, development, acceptance criteria, and provisioning. They moved to an agile methodology: fail early, fail fast. Deliver a minimally viable product and then iterate, and iterate, and iterate. If you’re able to get something out that the people can start working with, you can start getting consumer feedback rapidly. Your customers—the residents, visitors, and businesses in the City of LA—can actually work with you to develop your product...

"Traditional city development methodology says we procure it, we design it, we develop it, we deliver it, and then we don’t think about it ever again. More modern development methodologies say we develop something really early, it’s basic but functional, and then we iterate upon the service continuously."

 LA’s Chief Innovation Technology Officer Champions Agile Apps

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Long Term Road Maintenance

Maybe I live in a particularly dysfunctional city, but I have seen cases where our scheduled water line repairs occur immediately after a different department paves the roads.  I just talked to a friend who was telling me that the Swiss have long term road maintenance contracts where one company will be responsible and there payment is for both the initial cost and the quality of the road over 15+ years.  This invites them to use better materials and to have better planning.  Do any cities do that here?  Are there other best practices that we could import?

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Time or Tolls on the Brent Spence and Port Mann bridges

Just wanted to point out that there is a similar debate going on about tolls for the planned $5 Billion replacement of the Champlain Bridge across the St. Lawrence River at Montreal. As I understand the situation, the Canadian federal government has offered to pay part of the cost of the replacement bridge, but only if the bridge has a toll. As you might expect, all the politicians on the south shore insist that a toll is impractical because most traffic outside of rush hour would simply drive a few miles down river to the slightly older but better preserved Jacques Cartier Bridge. 

The resolution of this debate seems obvious to me. Since the older Jacques Cartier bridge will eventually need an expensive replacement, just put a toll on both bridges. Another possible resolution: if south shore commuters insist that they will use the Cartier Bridge rather than pay even a modest toll on a replacement Champlain Bridge, then maybe they don't really need both bridges.

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