Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A thumb in Newsweek's eye (and Scott Walker's too)

If you are more interested in urban wildlife and in a creative in-your-face video response to a newsmagazine insult than you are in transportation policy, you may skip directly to the end of this collection of links.

Rails No, Roads Yes Part: Remember Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker? He's the one who became the hero/villain for, among other things, turning away $800 million in federal funds for a high-speed passenger rail project because it would have required the state to spend up to $8 million in yearly operating subsidies. Just to make sure that voters get the point that he believes Rail Bad-Roads Good, he has since proposed four dubious new highway projects that could end up costing Wisconsin taxpayers over $2 billion. The Wisconsin PIRG (Public Interest Research Group, a member of the U.S. PIRG coalition) has issued a report, "Building Boondoggles" that says that despite a $3.4 billion state budget budget shortfall, the Wisconsin governor has proposed a 13 percent increase in road project funds, with four large projects of dubious necessity. Read it for yourself at the link above.

Dylan and Infrastructure.  Infrastructurist.com, in honor of  Bob Dylan's 70th birthday last Tuesday (Yeah I'm a week late. It was a busy week) put together its Top 10 Dylan infrastructure songs

Take that, you ignorant journos: Courtesy of colleague Tommy Tomlinson and his @tommytomlinson Twitter feed, here's a great video from Grand Rapids, Mich. –  the city's video response to being dubbed "a dying city" by Newsweek magazine. If you don't love it, you may have no heart.

Grin and bear it: There's been a boomlet of bear-sightings in the Carolinas in recent weeks, including a black bear that wandered onto the third hole at UNC's Finley Golf Course. Another was killed on a highway near Charlotte. Check out this video from the Greensboro News & Record, of what one resident found in his  back yard.  THIS JUST IN: A bear was shot and killed today at the Piedmont Triad International Airport. And the @GreensboroBear1 Twitter handle just switched to @GboroBearGhost.


Anonymous said...

Without knowing more about the proposed projects and how they fit in context, I can't say whether they are boondoggles or not. However, considering that other policy arms of the WISPIRG support Obamacare, the Dodd/Frank financial change ("reform" is not the appropriate term), and opposes nuclear power, among many other things, my first thought is that these projects aren't that boondoggle-ish after all. In other words, their credibility is suspect.

Dr. Horrible said...

So, some left-wing group thinks "Roads Bad, Rails Good"?

Is this news to you. Mary, dear?

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's hard to jump to conclusions without knowing the context. Judging by the other left-of-center policy positions by this WISPIRG organization, it's not surprising that they would oppose Scott Walker's agenda.

Come on now Mary, aren't there enough boondoggles in this state to focus on without having to meddle in Wisconsin's affairs? (Global Transpark, Golden Leaf Founadation and the proposed Garden Parkway come to mind).

Anonymous said...

encee said...
If you are too broke for transit, teachers, government workers benefits, then you are too broke for more highways. The government should be for a better quality of life for its citizens; which includes more transportation choices and more sustainable use of our resources.

consultant said...

Typical Republican move. Bait and switch. Let's build another road to nowhere and while we're at it, let the private sector OWN the road and collect tolls from here to eternity.

When will the general public begin to understand that gas at the pump isn't going back to $1.35 a gallon? I suspect it won't happen until they just can't afford to buy the gas.

The dimwit brain (Wylie Coyote repeatedly running off the cliff) is incapable of detecting deception. That's why Republican leaders just love those folks who vote for them.

I'm sorry Mary. You serve them up and I just have to take a whack at 'em.

Anonymous said...

It would be nice to see a similar report on NC boondoggles. Below are a couple NCDOT project examples, neither of which even carries 10,000 vehicles a day (which for comparison is less than dieted East Blvd. or a third of urban South Blvd.):

Widen US-158 in Eastern NC for $93million

Widen US-221 in Western NC for $540 million

And yet $28 million from the State for the Blue Line Extension was targeted by the NC Senate?!

This isn't about roads-vs-rail or rail-vs-roads. This is about hypocrisy.

Rural highway projects represent the largest redistribution of wealth administered by government. And yet somehow those projects aren't "boondoggles."

Waste is still waste, even if popular, when your economic return is low. And the return is very low, when building more of the same eggs (empty highway miles to maintain) in one, very rotten (deferred maintenance) basket.

Anonymous said...

Right on 11.19am.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 11:19

Let's not forget I-295 around Fayetteville, I-185 around southwest Greenville SC (the toll road that is bankrupt), or this small little project in downtown Boston called the Big Dig (which was only 6 years behind schedule and 140% over budget).

"Boondoggle" should be used to describe a project that is some or all of the following:
* mismanaged financially
* mismanaged temporally (schedule)
* mismanaged legally and/or corruption
* has a low benefit/cost ratio
* has no obvious relationship to the rest of the road (such as why I-85 is 8 lanes through Salisbury but only 4 lanes through Concord and Kannapolis)

Instead, "boondoggle" is usually an epithet one utters when the government spends money on YOUR pet project instead of MY pet project.

John Clark said...

I'm several days late but surprised no one has commented about the bear upheaval. Really...this could be the beginning of the 'summer rising' in the States. Wildlife beginning finally to seek revenge on the human encroachment of its habitat. Now only one at a time, but wait until they organize!

Anonymous said...

John Clark,

Step away from the bong.

Consultant & Mary,

Antwan Smith's death is a tribute to your love of mass transit.

consultant said...

"Consultant & Mary,

Antwan Smith's death is a tribute to your love of mass transit."

His death is connected to transit in the same way Sarah Palin is connected to intelligence.

Bréanainn Séaghdha said...

Anon. 9:49, really? Antwan Smith's death is somehow related to mass transit? Are you kidding? It happened at Speed Street, does that mean festivals and NASCAR are related to the shooting as well? It happened outside a Hilton, maybe Hiltons are magnets for gang violence too?

You draw a conclusion about a relationship between two unrelated subjects without attempting to logically connect the two.