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John Spragens, Jr. To take full advantage of this expanse, the state’s Department of Transportation frontage roads: to extend highway rightsof-way, to serve as parallel commuting lanes, and, particularly, to stimulate economic activity. These access routes have proved a vibrant zone of consumption, spinning off malls, superstores, and related secondary business along vast stretches of land. In the Lone Star State, the freeway is a remarkable money-making operation. Everywhere, the interstates and expressways have had a profound effect on the spatial development of American cities. Pulling the mobile middle class out of the central core, and flinging them into what Kenneth Jackson has deftly labeled the “crabgrass frontier”; reconfiguring old neighborhoods such that the concentration and plight of the poor and carless is intensified; clearing space for the erection of a glass-curtained architecture that looks spectacular at sixty miles per hour but repels at street level; gutting the environment from coast to coastthese are only some of the dire consequences of our national infatuation with automobility. In so arguing, Kay is heavily indebted to an array of historians and public policy analysts, including Robert Fogelson, Mark Foster, Kenneth Jackson, Mark Rose, John Stilgoe, and Sam Bass Warner, some of whose seminal work on the fragmentation and transformation of the cityscape began appearing more than twenty years ago. Let’s not forget, too, how much all this intellectual ferment owes to Lewis Mumford’s majestic The City in History Asphalt Nation, in short, is an old story. Newer, and thus more profound, is the tale that Kay spins over the last seventy pages of her book. Here, she begins to articulate how we might rein in the runaway car and liberate the frustrated driver. Zoning is a crucial strand in the argument for how to rebuild communities so that Americans are not so auto-dependent. To redesign our current, far-flung pattern of residential life will require an active, vocal opposition to the dominant form of land-use regulations that support highway construction, automobility, and the suburb. This holy trinity has been propped up via an impressive level of visible and invisible federal, state, and local subsidies. Little will change, Kay pungently points out, until we stop paying these “bribes for sprawl.” Naysaying alone will not bring the carburbs under control. We must also, and simultaneously, “say yes…to multimodal choice” that will enhance “our options for both mobility and livability.” This will entail retrofitting “America’s auto-centric wastelands to parallel the rail-linked, footpowered past.” Light rail and other forms of mass transit will help “reconnect the cities and suburbs,” encourage in-fill development, and increase the density of population, all of which should take cars off the road and revitalize a pedestrian society. BRAKE CHECK But does it follow that a walking city is a more equitable place? Kay is betting that it DECEMBER 5, 1997 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 23