Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Are State Governments Out of Date?

San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a...
San Francisco Bay Area highlighted in red on a map of California (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at almost any state in the nation, and you will find something interesting. Except for the original states that were created from the colonies, often times our states were created long before they had major population centers. This means that the population of the state and its regional ties may not necessarily conform to state borders.

Previously I talked about the important of a regional agency that should oversee transit service to insure that separate agencies are working together to ensure connectivity between transit systems so that riders have an easier time traveling across the region. One of the major problems of creating a regional board is that they stop at state lines and even though the place across the border may have economic ties to the other, they often have a hard time working together.

To start off lets take a look at California. I grew up there and always listened to the debates about north vs. south and how one was better than the other or more important than the other. In a way you could say there is actually multiple California's. Looking at regional needs you could say that Southern California is one region, The San Francisco Bay Area from Monterey to Sacramento is another region, and the San Joaquin Valley is a third.

An even better case is in the Northwest. While many residents of Vancouver, WA would not want to admit this, they have more in common with Portland, Oregon than they do with Seattle or Spokane economically. Politically Vancouver is more aligned with Spokane, economically they are part of a region that extends from Eugene to Longview.

Politically and economically Spokane and the surrounding area are independent and have little in common especially politically with the Puget Sound region. The Puget Sound area is its own region that you could arguably say stretches from Olympia to actually Vancouver BC but with Vancouver you don't have just another state but a another country which makes matters even worse.

More examples would be Pittsburgh that has more in common with neighboring cities in Ohio than it does with Philadelphia; does Kansas City, Kansas have more in common and belong in a region with Kansas City, Missouri more than say Wichita?; St. Louis and its 'suburbs' to the east in Illinois, the Cincinnati Region and so on.

Lets not fool ourselves, our States and their political existence is a bedrock in our nation and we will likely not see any changes in the future. However, while it may not happen on a national basis, there is still great benefits to regions working together to design and build a interconnected future. Maybe someday Cascadia will represent an economic and planning region in the northwest that will boost the region and not just a time bomb waiting to severly damage the area.
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Anonymous said...

Of course the state borders are stupid; and they're actually *worse* in the original 13 colonies (which squabbled over territory). NYC's commutershed is in at least three states, Boston's commutershed is in at least three states, Philadelphia's commutershed is in at least three states....

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