Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Infrastructure part 2

This is Joseph

In the same vein as some of my recent comments on infrastructure, the latest example of tricky projects is happening on the west coast.  Consider:
Transit advocates are often accused, absurdly, of engaging in a “war on cars”. If we were indeed committed to such a war, I’m not sure we could have come up better with anything than this. The overruns will likely cannibalize WSDOT’s budget, including all manner of road repair and construction projects (some of which are necessary and useful) for the foreseeable future. If, as appears increasingly likely, the viaduct must be shut down before the tunnel is ready, transit will become even more crucial for accessing downtown, and far fewer cars will be able to do so with any efficiency at peak travel times.  Meanwhile, Sound Transit’s tunneling project for light rail, using well established, off the shelf tunneling technology and conservative cost estimates, chugs along ahead of schedule and under budget, and Seattle just voted itself a tax increase to fund more bus service.
I don't like the terms luddite and ddulite (I prefer technophile and technophobe), but it is a classic example of a series of expensive decisions caused by trying to save money through a clever technological solution.  I return to my thoughts in the previous post, that the real point of concern is our inability to use off the shelf technology effectively in terms of infrastructure.

From an economics point of view, we really have a case of misaligned incentives.  How do we make more projects look like Sound Transit and less like the projects that have been encountered in the viaduct replacement?

1 comment:

  1. Your second link points to the same place as the first, not to the article.