Manifesto Multilinko
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Monday, December 22, 2008
the roads must not roll

We're bailing out the auto industry AND planning to build lots of infrastructure (that is, roads and bridges). Isn't that great? The auto and road industries must be the bestest of the best!

Well, they're certainly awesome at killing people! Roughly 3000 a year in Canada, 30000 a year in the US. Even better, they kill indiscriminately: healthy men, women and children erased in an instant. Isn't progress awesome?

But at least roads get us places efficiently, and are free!
Except that they're usually a city's largest budget item, sucking billions of tax dollars up and smearing them on the ground as dark, oily asphalt that lasts a couple years and needs to be replaced. Want a concert hall? Sorry, have to build a road. Need a new library? Sorry, have to resurface a road. Such a beautiful thing, a strip of lifeless asphalt, we can never have enough! And the more we build, the more we have to maintain!

Let's all think about the great benefits an extra trillion dollars of 20th century infrastructure will bring us:

A hundred billion dollars invested in new highways is no investment at all. It's a commitment to spend another ten billion a year. Forever. Recreating the employment and energy of the WPA is a great idea. Replicating the outcome is begging for a white elephant we can't afford.

When those infrastructure projects start to come in from the states, the administration should focus on three areas: repair, replace, and remove.

First priority should go to those projects that flat out eliminate the majority of costs associated with a piece of infrastructure. Nothing costs less in the future than a mile of highway that's been removed. Next should come those projects that offer the chance to upgrade existing infrastructure with an alternative whose future upkeep is less costly. This can include tearing out highways and adding more light rail. It should also include replacing older bridges and structures with newer designs that meet safety concerns while requiring less upkeep. Dead last on the list should come any project whose goal is to add more lanes for automobile traffic.

All Infrastructure Is Not Created Equal - Daily Kos - December 21, 2008

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