Can you say megaproject …

As with many large infrastructure projects, the estimated cost of the I-35W replacement bridge rises and rises. How come public officials never over-estimate initial costs? (Perhaps a question for my Transport Policy class).
Articles from the Strib and PiPress:
Sticker shock: Bridge tab soars by $143 million
The cost of rebuilding the collapsed I-35W span is climbing

L.A. doesn’t save data on traffic growth

From the front page of the LA Times web page, an article on traffic counts!: L.A. doesn’t save data on traffic growth
“But although the sensors and computers collect massive amounts of data about traffic patterns and congestion, they do little to help engineers plan for the city’s growing transportation needs — or determine how development is affecting traffic.
That’s because the city does not save the information for more than a few days, using it only to direct traffic in real time by adjusting the speed at which lights turn from green to amber to red.”
This is true elsewhere (Minneapolis e.g.), and a damn shame. I have been in meetings about this, but people are frugal and the beneficiaries are in different departments/units than those who would do the work.

Germany to build maglev railway

From the Beeb: Germany to build maglev railway
“The 1.85bn-euro ($2.6bn; £1.3bn) project had faced financing problems.
However, the Bavarian state government said it had signed an agreement with rail operator Deutsche Bahn and industrial consortium Transrapid that includes the developers of the train – Siemens and ThyssenKrupp.”
Well if someone had to do it, I am glad it isn’t us. I suspect this is another in a long line of transportation white elephants. Part of a successful investment strategy is not only picking winners but culling losers. $2.6B for an airport access link that will shave a few minutes off the line haul time to downtown (and only downtown) hardly seems the best of investments.

‘After bridge fall, engineers worry about undue alarm”

After bridge fall, engineers worry about undue alarm
“State highway officials around the country want the government to stop scaring the public by using dire-sounding phrases such as “structurally deficient” and “fracture critical” to describe bridges in need of repairs.”
Perhaps they forgot a bridge fell down. This occurred in part because there was *not* enough attention to bridges. Perhaps scarier terms are useful here. Certainly the real problems should rank worse than the non-problems, but the previous problem of under-investment has not suddenly disappeared. As the average age of bridges increases, the likelihood of collapse also increases in the absence of rehabilitation.
Modeling themselves on car dealers “”Car dealers no longer have ‘used’ cars. They instead switched to ‘previously owned.’ Can’t we similarly come up with nomenclature that is less of an issue?” Minnesota said in its response.” is hardly reassuring. People hardly hold car dealers in high regard.

Zipcar Take 3

I used the Zipcar for the 3rd time this morning. The second time was a week ago. We had a problem, the zipcard could not unlock the zipcar (Element Estelle) (all cars are alliteratively named for their models.
Fortunately when I called, they were able to unlock the adjacent car for me (Matrix McKenna), which I then took with only a few minute delay. Today I signed up for the second car (the Matrix), figuring it worked last time and the first did not. That was a wise choice, as someone else had reserved the other car this morning and had exactly the same problem I did previously, his card could not unlock Element Estelle. I realize Zipcar will do something for you (I am not clear what they will do), but this is a bad sign in general. Of my four interactions with zipcars, (three of my own and one observed for the other poor soul), two did not work correctly.

Congestion worsens, here and around the nation

Texas Transportation Institute is out with its mostly annual Urban Mobility Indicators report, I got my 15 seconds of fame on KARE-11 talking about it … Congestion worsens, here and around the nation. (Fox 9 called for an interview several hours later, but they wanted to do it outside, in the rain, and I begged off).
Of course, congestion is just the symptom, the real question is accessibility, and TTI does not track that.

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