This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
The New Republic‘s excellent new blog, The Avenue (which I would read more frequently if they offered full-length RSS feeds), uses the viaduct replacement to talk about whether we can build things anymore, building on the Jacobs-vs-Moses debate I alluded to recently.
As Glaeser notes, the only way large projects get built in the United States now is to grease the stakeholders (funny how a word that once meant neutral custodian of gambling wagers now means interested party) with amenities and other expensive mollifications.
Beyond new parks and playgrounds, this resulted in extensive testing and monitoring of zoo animals as Portland built light rail under its West Hills, and it meant the purchase of air conditioners, soundproofing, and comfier mattresses for residents of Bostons North End during the Big Dig.
On our podcast this week, we wonder how it is that Barcelona can build a new, 29-mile underground subway for 2-3x what it’s going to cost to build a mile or two of tunnel to replace the viaduct. Perhaps they just don’t have to buy as many mattresses and air conditioners.