Today’s Headlines

  • Obama Outlines Vast Public Works Program (NYT, Politico)
  • Too Much ‘Roads and Bridges’ Talk in Infrastructure Address (Cap’n Transit, Overhead Wire)
  • Streetsblog.net Has More Reactions
  • Big Three Bailout/Restructuring Gains Momentum in DC (NYT, CBS)
  • What Has to Happen to Toll East and Harlem River Bridges? (NYT)
  • Thompson Bashes Bridge Tolls, Says Bloomberg Should Take a Stronger Stand (Post)
  • Ravitch Responds to Pols Who Attacked MTA Rescue Plan (News)
  • Bloomberg Tells MTA Board Reps to Hold Down Express Bus Fare (News)
  • Joyriding SI Teens Wreck Car, Show Off Injuries on MySpace (SI Live)
  • NJ Town Charges Drivers for Costs Associated With Car Crashes (AP)
  • Larry Littlefield

    Flipped on the TV yesterday, and saw Brokaw interviewing Obama, who was saying corportions need to be given incentives to save energy.

    What about consumers, Brokaw asked, who started conserving when gas prices were high but have not gone back to their bad ways? Isn’t now a good time to tax gasoline to encourage conservation?

    No, Obama says, because people need the money in a bad economy.

    Turned the TV off.

    Note: Mr. Obama — if you take all the money collected in the tax and rebate it to people, they have just as much money as before, but they also have the option of saving eve more money by changing what they do.

    There isn’t going to be any change — until there is a collapse and they can’t stop it anymore. The collapse will occur when savers realize the federal government may default on its debts, and the bailouts can only continue if the Federal Reserve monetizes the deficit, causing massive inflation. Failure to change makes this scenario increasingly possible.

  • Lee

    FDR told Detroit to stop building cars – instead build tanks, planes, bullets & bombs, and that ensured nearly total employment for the duration of the war. Why shouldn’t they now build trains, buses, bicycles, rail, brick pavers, and electrical infrastructure?

    However there is a big difference between making military goods to be blown up and scrapped abroad – vs. building substantial domestic infrastructure with the same money. When a bomb blows up a cave in Afghanistan, or a hummer hits a roadside bomb in Iraq, the money required to build and transport it is lost forever. If instead we used that money to build a heavy-gauge railroad line or a brick-paved bicycle track, busway, shopping street, etc. this investment would easily last 100 years or more.

    Similarly the brick-paved streets and rowhouses of my E. Baltimore community date to 1906 and are still in excellent condition, and where cheap to build. If the trolley rails had not been torn up for steel required to build WWII tanks, they would still be running today as well. My great-grandparents paid it off in 10 years on a meager factory-worker’s salary. Compare this to the flimsily constructed suburban McMansions of today, connected by asphalt roads. Both have a 15-20 year lifespan, after which major repairs will be required. Lets not even consider the replacement costs of all those far-flung sewer, water, and electric grids. I doubt asphalt will be so plentiful and cheap in 20 years, but the bay will still be full of clay to make more bricks to rebuild my rowhouse. Maybe by then we will have back our trolley lines too.

  • “Compare this to the flimsily constructed suburban McMansions of today, connected by asphalt roads. Both have a 15-20 year lifespan, after which major repairs will be required.”

    That short lifespan is the best thing about them – after which I hope we can remove them rather than repairing them.

  • Re: Daily News article “Ravitch Responds to Pols Who Attacked MTA Rescue Plan”:

    “Obviously, I have to assume they must know of some secret fairy godmother who has piles of money she is going to send and solve the problem,” said Richard Ravitch. “Otherwise, they’d better damn well explain how the system is going to be paid for.”

    I like it. A public “if you’ve got a better idea, I’m all ears” to pols who’d rather whine and grandstand than do anything constructive.

    “Many low- and middle-income residents in the outer boroughs live in areas that are underserved by public transit,” Councilman Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) said in a statement. “To have them disproportionately carry the burden of rescuing the MTA is unfair. How can you tax people to enter Manhattan when you don’t provide them reasonable alternatives?”

    You mean like BRT, which the Bloomberg DOT has been pushing for all along?

  • So,
    The hangup for mayor Bloomberg to transfer the bridges to the MTA is because: “There is a law that allows the city to transfer property to the authority if it is to be used for transit purposes, such as land for a subway station. But the city officials said they did not believe that would apply to the bridges.”

    If a single MTA bus crossed the bridge once then said transit purpose is fulfilled, or am I not understanding something here.
    -j