Friday, October 31, 2008

A Fine Idea

I found this in today's Times:
A major infrastructure initiative would create jobs for the less-educated workers who have been hit hardest by the transition to an information economy. It would allow the U.S. to return to the fundamentals. There is a real danger that the U.S. is going to leap from one over-consuming era to another, from one finance-led bubble to another. Focusing on infrastructure would at least get us thinking about the real economy, asking hard questions about what will increase real productivity, helping people who are expanding companies rather than hedge funds.

Moreover, an infrastructure resurgence is desperately needed. Americans now spend 3.5 billion hours a year stuck in traffic, a figure expected to double by 2020. The U.S. population is projected to increase by 50 percent over the next 42 years. American residential patterns have radically changed. Workplaces have decentralized. Commuting patterns are no longer radial, from suburban residences to central cities. Now they are complex weaves across broad megaregions. Yet the infrastructure system hasn’t adapted.

The smart thing to do is announce a short-term infrastructure initiative to accelerate all those repair projects that can be done within a few years. Then, begin a long-term National Mobility Project.
And who is the person advocating a return to New Deal policies? Why, it's that Commie pinko rat known Socialist registered Democrat Republican, David Books. Read the whole thing here.


N6TQS said...

This is probably a really good time to vote for CA prop 1A, the high-speed rail project.

Lisa Hirsch said...

The total cost of that plan is estimated to be $30 billion, which before you know it will turn into $50 billion. All this with the economy in a bad state and CA having difficulty borrowing money.

I voted against it. I'd like to fund local infrastructure and mass transit first. We could get a lot of busses running for that kind of money.

If there is any national funding for infrastructure, we'll see what happens with that.

N6TQS said...

It's almost certainly never going to be any cheaper. It's infrastructure we need now and are probably going to need more in the future.

Sometimes you just have to do it.

Lisa Hirsch said...

There's always next year. If Federal funds for infrastructure come available, fine. But I am not sure there is enough SF -> traffic to justify this. The northeast corridor, with Boston, NY, and DC, yeah, for sure.

N6TQS said...

If it takes 2 hours 40 minutes from SF to LA by rail (and a bit less from San Jose), a noticeable amount of air traffic from the three Bay Area airports would vanish. There are strong reasons while this is a good thing. There'd also be some stops in the Central Valley.

rootlesscosmo said...

As a longtime (now retired) railroad worker (brakeman and locomotive engineer) I'm for it in principle, but I have reservations about how it might actually be executed. The real issue is intermediate stops, which make an enormous difference to the total SF-LA running time; if legislators from Modesto and Fresno and Bakersfield lobby successfully to get this train to stop at their cities--and they'll try, I think--the end result will be too slow to get people out of planes and too inconvenient to get them out of cars. (This is an odd discussion for a music blog, I realize.) To accomplish its goals, high-speed SF-LA rail needs a dedicated right-of-way and nonstop service; there's no reason another train over the same route couldn't originate at San Jose, but stops in the Valley would defeat the purpose.

Paul H. Muller said...

We don't need high speed rail from LA to SF. What we need here in SoCal is 5 tracks and 300 trains per day to take us where the 101 and 405 freeways go.

I ride the Metrolink every day from Ventura to Northridge and I never want to drive again. We need that, times 100.

Build a good mass transit system and we won't even need to own a car. That means you don't have to go $20K into debt, pay for insurance, repairs and gasoline for the privledge of going nowhere on a freeway.

Side benefit: What happens in the middle east will no longer be in the national interest.

So forget the high-speed inter-city trains. Give me ten thousand street cars.