Interstate is 50

The Interstate Highway System turns 50 this month and there are some interesting blogs about people part of the celebratory convoy. It was amusing to read about the RV industry’s difficulties maintaining the route on time (problems with weather, permits, etc.). Even something this well-planned goes awry, though things are certainaly better than when Eisenhower tried his convoy after World War I.

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Thought experiment: Financing public education

The overall quality of a public school is largely derived from two characteristics: the quality of the education provided (which depends in large part on teachers and facilities) and the quality of the learning (which depends on students). Hedonic models of house price indicate that the quality of public schools is capitalized in the value of land. Such matters are important. First, schools are a major determinant of property values and thus residential sorting by income, where the rich can isolate themselves from the poor. This introduces inequity into the system. Second, an analogy can be drawn to how roads should be paid for and whether users should pay or they should be capitalized into property taxes.

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Hell hath no fury like a schemer scammed

In a fascinating article: Rioting in China Over Label on College Diplomas – New York Times, students are in an uproar because their diplomas will bear the name of the lesser college they actually attended instead of the better college (with which the lesser school is affiliated) whose reputation they paid to acquire. Reputation is everything, and they are not doing much for the reputation of Zhengzhou University Shengda Economic, Trade and Management College by rioting. Of course they feel frustration, but they were trying to buy something they could not earn (the students paid extra for the lower ranked (and presumably less rigorous) school, but could not gain admittance to the better school).

Dispersing jobs: good or bad?

This article: Region’s Job Growth a Centrifugal Force starts badly “As a consensus builds that the Washington region needs to concentrate job growth, there are signs that the exact opposite is happening.” and gets worse.

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Fuel efficiency: Prius SOV vs. SUV HOV

Briefly noted: The Skeptical Optimist: The Prius gas-guzzler vs. the SUV planet-saver
It is interesting (& amusing) to examine gas consumption per passenger, but again … data is not the plural of anecdote. The question is what is the overall auto occupancy of different vehicles. I am dubious that the SUV is in general more fuel efficient, but will be persuaded by analysis of data … which someone should do. Lots of it is here .

An innovation too far?

MnDOT tried to get contractors to finance the reconstruction of the Crosstown Connector in Minneapolis and Richfield, a major bottleneck where the Crosstown Highway (Mn 62) and I-35W share real estate. This was clearly a move towards innovative financing, not just letting contractors build the project, but letting them pay for it, with no certainty about repayment. Clearly, Minnesota’s “uninnovative” contractors were having no part of it. See the Strib for details: Crosstown project fails to draw a bid
Generally for financing, there needs to be some guarantee of repayment, with some interest earned, proportionate to risk.

Wincopin Street

I just discovered this blog entry about Columbia and Howard County, Maryland: Howard County Blog: Where would the southern extention of Wincopin Street go?. They seem to have some of the same concerns about the proposed redevelopment of downtown Columbia that I do, in particular development of another north-south axis rather than the east-west axis.
- dml