The Perils of 'Shovel-Ready' Projects

As the Federal government prepares to pour massive amounts of funding into road infrastructure, James Russell sends up a warning that the 'shovel-ready' projects may just be more bridges to nowhere.
January 23, 2009, 5am PST | Tim Halbur
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"I fear that 'shovel ready' means boondoggles like the E- 470 beltway, a six-lane, 46-mile arc through empty high-desert grasslands dotted with new subdivisions east of Denver. Cars cruise the wide-open toll road at 80 miles per hour.

Touted as essential to the metro area's growth, this land developers' delight hasn't lightened loads on more centrally located highways. It's just rearranged growth patterns, scattering splotches of development over an unimaginably large landscape. New residents depend on long beltway commutes by car.

We can't do better now, the lobbying legions say, we need to start the bulldozers fast. Translation: No bridge to nowhere will be left behind.

What's wrong with America's way of building transportation has long been known. We segregate roads, mass transit, railways and air. Each has its own pot of money. It's no one's job to assemble a transportation system that offers the right travel mode for the task at hand."

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Published on Thursday, January 22, 2009 in Bloomberg.com
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