Cartoon Tuesday: Chutes and Ladders, State DOT Style


Via Steven Higashide at Mobilizing the Region:

A board game? An unusually colorful circuit board? Could it be
contemporary art? Perhaps the four sets of people represent humanity,
dwarfed by the boxes and arrows which symbolize the harrowing
complexity of modern life.

Actually, this is a real diagram from the NYSDOT Division of
Engineering’s Project Design Manual which was reprinted in the Final
Environmental Impact Statement for the Rt. 347 widening project. Apparently it was put there to explain the project development process in a nutshell. A convoluted, bewildering nutshell. (MTR’s intuition is that the diagram is intended as a reference guide for engineers, not the general public.)

Government agencies are often criticized for being opaque to the
public, and this is not the way to help. Other DOTs have explained
their processes in much simpler ways.

To read the fine print on the diagram, check out the original image on NYSDOT’s website (it’s big).

  • When I think about all of the messed up intersections in his city that aren’t very safe, looking at this just makes me want to cry. So many of the arrows just go in circles.

  • It might be convoluted but I suspect that any government department in the UK wouldn’t have a clue what the process would be here.
    The truth might not be pretty but at least you can see it; would that we could here in the UK…

  • gecko

    Ulrich’s “Product Design and Development” seems to be the 101 standard for product design and most likely nosing around MIT’s tremendous Opencourseware eduational resource it should be possible to elicit the correct way for developing transit projects.

    A simple general diagram can be found at:

    Some of the graduate courses on this page should be a good place to start:

    . . . but, a certain amount of common sense should prevail!

    The NYS diagram is an embarrassment like much of transportation and especially transit practice.

    Years ago computer systems of many of the large corporate and other institutions were dog slow because the network engineers did not know what they were doing and or the computer network systems were designed and implemented very badly quite similar to transportation and transit practice today and the so-called “prevailing conventional wisdom” of how people should travel.


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