The Zipper Streets of Holland

A reader in California responds to the report of "zipper streets" in Shanghai -- thoroughfares that are continually dug up, paved over, and dug again for (seemingly ill-planned) maintenance:

>>It's by no means an exclusively Chinese phenomenon. My San Francisco office is on the ground floor a hundred feet from the intersection of Battery and Washington Streets. That intersection was completely ripped up and repaved three times between early 2009 and mid-2010, with weeks of jackhammers each time.<<

And from a friend in Holland, reports of a tidier version of the same process there:

>>In Amsterdam we just witnessed them dig up the street THREE times in front of [a friend's] house on 3 separate days, and there it works like a dream. The streets and sidewalks are all red bricks, and they just pick out a line of bricks, dig down into the dirt, lay whatever pipe, and then fill it up the hole again and replace the bricks.  It is kept looking beautiful all the time!   Almost no noise.<<

She included pictures from her window today. This is "after," as the work is being wrapped up:


"Before" shot, and another Amsterdam pic, after the jump.


And across the canal to similar orderly infrastructure work:

Japan is the other place where I've seen street repairs carried out with the same "let's keep this as prim and orderly as possible" policy as we're hearing about Holland. In China, as mentioned previously here, it's more the rough-and-ready, "get the job done and worry about being 'prim' later" approach that has let the country do so much so fast.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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