35 Replies to “Sunday Open Thread: New York’s Downward Spiral”

  1. This all hits on a larger thing as to why the US can’t build and operate transit?

    1. Because it doesn’t want to. The people who do want to build comprehensive transit like other countries are outnumbered and outpowered by those who have very different values and agendas. Much of it is driven by corporations that promote values that favor their products and exploit weaknesses in our democracy to warp laws to their benefit. That was the ultimate source of the car frenzy; e.g., the Futurama exhibit at the World’s Fair in the 1930s sponsored by General Motors, which promised a world of driving everywhere from car-optimized houses to office and shopping districts on wide-open highways. The public already had a natural fascination with cars and wanted more mobility. The government and industry could have pushed a balanced approach primarily based on transit with some accommodation for cars — as Europe did in its postwar rebuild and after the 1970s oil crisis — but instead they pushed a Futurama vision that transit is obsolete and cars are the solution to everything. That’s pretty much how everything developed from the 1950s to the 1990s, at which point the “back to the city” movement got large enough to be visible. Since then urbanism and suburbanism have rivaled with some successes on both sides (downtown renaissance; exurbs and McMansions).

      That interacted with the US’s racial history. Other countries like Latin America and Europe have racial tensions but ours are unusually polarized and persistent. The closest comparison to the US is probably South Africa. There are several theories as to why, I lean toward James Webb’s that in the 1700s slaves were treated like indentured servants; e.g., the Scots-Irish immigrants who paid for their passage by working for seven years. They saw blacks as competitors for jobs; the upper classes saw the two as somewhat the same. Then an especially cruel plantation system came from Barbados and led to chattel slavery and dehumanizing blacks, and in the Civil War the rich whites brought the poor whites to their side by propaganda: exploiting their prejudice and generating fear. This led to the Civil War, segregation, and post-segregation problems.

      New York City has a little-known role in this, as the home of the capitalists who exacerbated slavery and racial tensions in the South for their merchant profits. Zoning originated in private covenants in the 1880s in New York, where subdivision developers built bucolic neighborhoods at the edge of the city and put restrictions in the deeds to prohibit multifamily housing, food-producing animals, different house colors, minority residents, etc. The neighborhoods themselves had curving roads to make them ill-suited to transit. The idea was to limit them to affluent white families who could afford a minimum-sized lot, personal transportation, and purchased food. Only “useless” animals like dogs and cats were allowed, not food-producing chickens or goats. In the 1920s New York was the first city to create zoning, which was essentially a standardization of those private covenants and extending them throughout the city. In other words, their core purpose was exclusionary, racist, and classist. They justified them as keeping polluting factories away from houses, but they could have done that with existing public health powers. Limiting heavy-industry zones does not require separating houses from apartments or limiting the heights of buildings. Zoning spread throughout the US, and initially the courts struck it down as a violation of property rights, but eventually some courts accepted that as long as the zoning was citywide and gave a place for everything and appeared to be minimally balanced, it was OK. Some say zoning is still on weak legal grounds and municipalities are avoiding direct court challenges to prevent it from possibly being struck down. Regardless of that, zoning has been the norm for the past sixty years. Single-use zones (houses, apartments, retail, theaters, government, light industry, heavy industry) came out of Le Courbesier’s vision: he thought it made the map look neat, and it came along with his towers-in-the-park.

      The postwar suburban expansion was fueled partly by the public’s desire for space and a higher standard of living, partly by the oil and automobile industries that promoted highways, partly by redlining that gave FHA loans mostly to suburban white-only subdivisions and excluded inner-city minority and mixed neighborhoods, and partly by white flight after school desegregation. Several of these reflect whites’ fear of blacks, which go back to the polarized racial atmosphere in the US.

      That interacted with beliefs of the anti-new-dealers, libertarians, and meritocracy believers. They believed that the rich were rich because they had a good work ethic and were go-getters, and the poor were poor because they were lazy. This goes back to the Protestant work ethic, the idea that wealth and success is a sign that God is smiling on you and you’re doing good. These people are afraid that government assistance will rob the poor of work ethic and give them a sense of entitlement, and that sounds communist. This intersects with the racial division, because many people thinking this are white and the ones they’re afraid of getting undeserved benefits are black. Never mind that there are more poor whites in the US than poor blacks, and that the South (with a disproportionate number of poor whites) gets the most income redistribution from the rest of the US. They just ignore these facts and pretend they don’t exist.

      The net result is that the majority of Americans believe the Futurama ideal, and even though it’s modified now with peak-express buses and commuter rail and urban villages, many suburbanites still want wider highways and see transit as incapable of meeting their needs (even if they use it in a limited way for work and ballgames), and Greenwood homeowners want 1:1 parking in all developments because they don’t believe that a significant number of people don’t drive. And many people are suspicious of transit because it benefits “those people” and is a step toward European socialism and the war on cars. They think European economies are about to collapse under the weight of their welfare states and large transit systems.

      Then there’s gerrymandering, the privilege of small states in the Senate, and corporate lobbying, which for the most part reinforce these anti-transit factors. And we can add, myopia: the belief that other countries’ experience is so alien or wrong that it has nothing to teach us so we have to reinvent the wheel here.

      1. Mike, all true. But doesn’t it make some difference that we’re three hundred million people in a country that the rest of the world considers unpopulated?


      2. No because transit can scale. Most of the population lives in metropolitan areas. Washington state is the size of Germany, and its regions could have transit similar to comparable German regions. Spain has large rural areas like California, yet it still has has high-speed rail between cities. We don’t have to look at North Dakota and Texas and say it’s impossible: the distances are too large. We just have to come up with creative solutions for low-population areas. We haven’t succeeded because we haven’t tried. Much of the midwest and Rocky Mountain area are as arid as a desert: they don’t have enough water for a large population. So therefore we don’t expect a large population: we don’t plant a New York City there. We plant a New York City in places that can handle it more, like California or Pugetopolis. Because Americans are resistent to being as high density as European cities, comprehensive transit will be less efficient: it will cost more per passenger or passenger-mile. But it’s still better to have it than not to have it. Put the blame where it belongs: on the low density, don’t take it out on people who don’t have cars. We could move halfway and at least stop building impermeable cul-de-sacs and make it easier for walkers to get to places.

        It’s like broadband Internet: why does the US pay 2-3 times as much as other countries for half or a third the speed, and with vast areas having nothing or only one minimal ripoff provider? It’s not because of the huge rural areas. It’s because of exclusive TV and phone franchises, and state laws that prohibit cities from setting up their own last-mile infrastructure, and distorted federal policies that put corporations before the public.

      3. Holy cow, you wrote A Condensed History of What’s the Matter with America in response to a one-line comment! It’s pretty compelling, and wouldn’t take much to turn it into a political manifesto…

      4. “Most of the population lives in metropolitan areas. Washington state is the size of Germany, and its regions could have transit similar to comparable German regions.”

        I lived in Germany. It is not quite the transit nirvana that it often seems to be portrayed as. I commuted with transit, but most of my co-workers drove their cars to work. It was much easier to get around using transit only than here, but there were still lots of entertainment and shopping venues that could only reasonably be reached by car. My fixer in Germany did all of his business travel by car because it was too hard/slow to reach his clients otherwise.

    2. References:

      The Option of Urbanism, by Christopher Leinberger. Futurama and the urban/suburban division.

      Dead End: Suburban Sprawl and the Rebirth of Urbanism, by Benjamin Ross. Zoning.

      Born Fighting: How the Scots-Irish Shaped America, by James Webb. Racial divisions.

      Nixonland: the Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America, by Rick Peterstein. Anti-New Dealers and racial divisions.

      The Invisible Bridge: the Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, by Rick Perlstein. Anti-New Dealers and racial divisions.

      Makeshift Metropolis: Ideas About Cities, by Witold Rybczynski. The differences between the City Beautiful, Garden City, Radiant City, and Broadacre City movements. Also a reexamination of Jane Jacobs’ influence. The City Beautiful movement led to downtown public buildings in Beaux Arts and Art Deco styles. The Garden City movement focused on lower-density neighborhoods, and were the inspiration for quarter-acre lots and garden apartments. The Radient City is Le Corbusier’s towers-in-the-park. Broadacre City is his decentralized non-city with farmers’ markets at highway exits and scattered houses and lowrise. The latter three all led to the suburban car-oriented vision. However, the Garden City had mixed influence because in the pre-automobile era it was higher density than quarter-acre lots, more like a streetcar suburb. So it overlaps with New Urbanism.

  2. Any frame of that movie where you can’t replace “MTA” with “The United States of America?”

    Mark Dublin

    1. The MTA has it more concentrated and worse. While the DC metro has fires. and Minneapolis has a collapsing bridge, and Pugetopolis has its various transit problems, none of them seem as numerous or hindering as the NYC subway’s. Even though the remaining subway performance is still twice as comprehensive as the next-largest city, there’s still an astonishing number of problems that keep appearing one after the other, and show it is being held together by band-aids, even though rolling refurbishment tries to keep up, but it remains way behind.

      1. >> The MTA has it more concentrated and worse.

        Only because it is older, bigger and used more than any other system. The numbers are staggering, by any measure. 245 miles of track. 472 stations. 36 lines. All of that operating on very old equipment. Servicing that is a tremendous challenge even if it wasn’t so popular. But you can’t shut it down for very long, because over 5 million people a day count on it.

        The enormous size and age of the system also means that there are great incentives for corporate thieves to shave off a little money here or there. After all, maintenance shortcomings aren’t noticed.

        All of that plus a political system that doesn’t reward maintenance. People want tax cuts and better service, so making that stitch in time might save you nine, but it won’t get you reelected. Oh, and a tax system that isn’t as progressive as it should be, leading to enormous disparities in wealth, that simply confounds funding pressure.

        Really nothing very different than any other community in this country — they are just bigger, and older. Eventually we will all be where they are now (unless we make a sudden change down the path we’ve been going on for years now).

  3. If Vegas had odds on whether the CCC ends up getting built eventually, what do you think they would be? Im putting my money down on it eventually getting built.

    1. Delaying a project doesn’t help with costs.

      Maybe they can cut out the 5% for public art and call it Olympic Sculpture Park since this is the replacement for what that “park” destroyed.

      1. Better use for the money, poncho :Replace former Myrtle Edwards Park streetcar station, only this time right in the middle of the Garden.

        Since we’ve got renderings to show the streetcar was supposed to go there, we know somebody just forgot to put it back in. So we’ll not only be glad to help, but have already had the whole park declared a Historic Streetcar Museum, as monument to the late City Councilman George Benson.

        In whose honor, next May 17, the King of Norway will personally turn on a non-stop recording of former Metro driver Eldo Kannikkeberg sing his entire repertoire including “Moon Over Columbia Center. After which he will announce that ground has already been broken in both Ballard and West Seattle for the rest of the light rail line, built by Finnish engineers and architects.

        With clear understanding that if any hostile throne interferes, not only will a sky-full of Saab jet fighter bombers come roaring full throttle out of their hangars disguised as barns around Arlington to convert the ferris wheel into a mile-long Erector Set, as their nose-cannon rip GP lanes into railroad gravel all the way to Jackson…

        But the Norwegian navy will land marines in horned helmets. even though the real Vikings never had them, off of landing-raft with teeth at the bow and a long scaly tail astern. Whereupon the cowering inhabitants will learn to their shame that the Vikings did not have to seize anybody and carry her off to Iceland, because the Norse were the only men in Europe who took baths.

        By yimminy you better put that maintenance shed back in there too!


    2. James, not being sarcastic. I agree with you. Main reasons? I think the combined business community of every district the whole length of the line already consider the line a good investment. Otherwise, none of it would have gotten onto the drawing board.

      Because they know that a large majority of their customers, residents and visitors from the rest of the world, will think of it among their reasons to come to Seattle. And return. Remember, first boarding will be a single-seat LINK ride from every station on the line. Including Sea-Tac Airport.

      And also that there’s nothing about the line- terrain, lakes, rivers, existing buildings like either factories or skyscrapers- in the way at all. Let alone needing to be overcome at all. But I think that exactly like for the rest of the city, and the country, obviously including New York City, most beneficial thing will be hardest to achieve:

      Serving the majority of the people who really pay for it in their own taxes, whose numbers shamefully exceed their combined income. Right now, their fully justified opposition outweighs everything else in the way. Cure: put them to work at wages that’ll make the taxes look more like an investment than one more stolen cell-phone.

      Including work not only building the car-line, but also driving, supervising, and maintaining it. That’ll be the hard part. Like for our country, I also see this streetcar line created. However for both: Only question is how long it’ll take.

      Now please tell us your reasons.

      Mark Dublin

    3. This is not related to the Sculpture Park. The Waterfront Streetcar was waterfront transit, which by the nature of the waterfront has lower volume and different use purposes than First Avenue transit. And while they are slightly interchangeable, especially with more escalators and elevators coming, they are 95% different transit markets. It’s more likely that a waterfront dweller (usually a tourist or recreationist) would use a 1st Avenue streetcar to get between different parts of the waterfront than that a 1st Avenue dweller (usually a worker, shopper, or resident) would use a waterfront streetcar to get between different parts of 1st Avenue. The Waterfront Team promoted a streetcar on 1st Avenue instead of the waterfront, but that is not the primary motivation or user base for the streetcar. The Waterfront Team recognized that a 1st Avenue streetcar was not a complete solution to waterfront transit, and recommended an electric shuttle bus or minibus on Alaskan Way. As far as we know, that’s what the city will do.

      1. Mike, only minor disagreements. Fortunately it’ll happen by itself anyhow, but better to think of First Avenue and the Waterfront as part of the same district, and market, from Myrtle Edwards at least, or eventually lower Queen Anne, all the way to the International District to Pioneer Square. On the way past IDS to Broadway.

        Reason, like I’ve said, that I think CCC will inevitably be built. But on the Waterfront please only allow minibuses with garish paint jobs, conductors whose job is to grab pedestrians, take their two cent fare and stuff them aboard with the other fifty people. And mandatory names like “Coconut Skull Demon from Hell.”

        Also Harley-decibel motored tricycles called “Tuk Tuks” ’cause that’s what they call themselves. Must create pollution to be authentic. But for irreplaceable line-haul end to end transit, only real problem solved by auxiliary batteries on trolleybuses. Including artics, which I think loads will demand.

        Running reserved lanes- could possibly get away with single lane like streetcars did with track. But big change: battery assist will let the bus drop poles to cross the BN tracks- where overhead would never be allowed. Then- Seattle Center, Queen Anne, Ballard. Or Pioneer Square, Jackson and Leschi.

        Grooved rail exponentially less of a deal as time goes by. Time frame no problem for me, because demographic group I’ll join long before then are known for our long patient view of time. Unless you live people really violate noise laws.


      2. Just because the Benson line was infrequent doesn’t mean there wasn’t demand for more.

        I would have loved to take it a few times, and the 99 as well, to get from the 24 or 33 or 15 to King Street Station or Coleman Dock. These move really slow through town and Alaskan Way would have been much faster, but the infrequency meant there was never any point in trying to use it. Also, since the pedestrian bridge in the sculpture park is closed from sunset to sunrise, trying to use that to get between the two in the evening or morning wasn’t possible.

  4. So this is why we can never get a second elevators from SeaTac Airport Station to the ground level on the eastside of Pac Hwy, from each of the Tukwila International Station platforms to the mezzanine or from the mezzanine to the parking lot, or from each of the Mt Baker Station platforms to the street level. No politician sees it as a chance to cut a ribbon in front of cameras. But hey, you can cut a ribbon in front of each of these future second elevators, so please do it.

    This is also why ST was forced to spend money on the Burien Forced Transfer Center — a facility used to corral transit riders and keep them away from nearby businesses, but which ST has no reason to serve. Some of those politicians are still around and have pride in this anti-amenity. Please mow down that facility and replace it with several-story housing, and first-floor retail that will be nicer for riders to wait at. Sell that land to private developers, and use the proceeds to pay for the second elevators listed above.

    It may be hard to imagine politicians cutting a ribbon in front of red carpet transit lanes on 3rd Ave, but that can be done. It could have been done with the Pacific St lanes, but nobody thought to do it. Those lanes are beautiful, BTW.

    The same goes with protected bike lanes. I don’t recall a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the 2nd-Ave PBLs, but they are game-changers. Nearly everything listed in the OCC attempt to buy off various groups from calling out the Convention Center Annex construction as the cause of two-three years of impending Carmaggedon can have its own ribbon-cutting. Lots of ribbons can be cut for lots of middling-expense stuff that lots of people will use. But the 3rd Ave red carpet lanes would be the Big One. Given how many hundreds of thousands of riders use 3rd Ave every day, people will notice. Feel free to put a plaque with politicians’ names at each bus stop in some place where they don’t get in the way of providing useful information or become street furniture impeding the path for sight-challenged riders.

    Oh, and please don’t give the Convention Center the green light to take Convention Place Station and push the buses out in March 2019. There will be no extra light rail vehicles available until the September service change. Listen to Councilmember O’Brien, who is paying attention to important details.

    Even then, the traffic will still be bad until Northgate Station opens. I don’t see why the downtown economy has to be brought to a stand-still for the sake of one construction project that is not any sort of safety or traffic-improvement emergency. You only get to cut one ribbon for the Convention Center Annex. And most politicians won’t want to touch that ribbon with a ten-foot pole after it is blamed for the two-three years of economy-wrecking Carmageddon.

    1. Same questions and answers as for New York City, Brent. And like there, we the people have to figure out pretty specifically what to do about it, and how to make our elected politicians “make it happen.” Forcing international passengers to get on a bus to Tukwila or the Airport and take a bus to the other one because the elevator’s broken!

      Though have to post in another language, because American English swear-words don’t even mention ten generations of every pertinent official in same sentence with three diseases and five kinds of animals.

      Since Americans with Disabilities Act now applies only to fossil fuel millionaires since Texas went solar and wind, any State agency any use whatever? But a lot of working people will stop hating liberals if we just do this instead, at least outside across from the Airport. http://www.mcdelevators.com/

      Meantime, though, no matter how bad the Port wants to turn Sea-Tac station into parking, they’ve got bosses. The major airlines and everybody selling their tickets to rich people. Who’ll soon be glad to pay for planes and destinations still safely part of the Third World.

      And now that we’re on politics- whose mention scares the people who deserve it most- since I got ethno – economtetrically cleansed out of Seattle, somebody else in a group of about a hundred Seattlites will have to visit Rob Johnson’s office and remind him how many votes he got because of his former position at Transportation Choices Coalition. After next election, would be too bad if they won’t let him use the bathroom there anymore.

      And for the Convention Center- new Cold War entitles us to threaten Mutually Assured Destruction:


      Just to get our passengers used to future DSTT service, we can put the 512 in there too.


  5. I just got back from India, and had the interesting experience of again using the (fairly new) Delhi Metro.
    The Delhi Metro started operation in 2002, and reached the point where it enjoyed reasonably good network effects around 2010. It now carries about 2.5 million riders daily (ridership has shown a downward blip recently due to fare increases). Its phase I triggered nationwide amazement when it came in on budget and ahead of schedule (almost the first time this ever occurred in India), and has stimulated Metro projects in cities all over the country (they are even digging in Kochi, Kerala). Massive, continuous expansion of the Delhi system followed, and now consists of 7 color-coded lines (plus an airport express) comprising something like 250km of track. Another color is on the way in a year or so, along with more extensions into the suburbs as well as completion of inner rings. All the long-distance Indian Railways stations are served except Hazrat Nizamuddin (and it should be accessed within a year). An additional 100km should be added in 2020-2022.

    Most of the trains I rode consisted of 8 cars (a few 6), and arrived every 2-3 minutes during the day. Most of the standing space was in use during midday; all of it during rush hours. Occasionally people had to wait for the next train during rush hours despite pretty tight crowding – though people were not packed-in nearly to Mumbal-suburban-train levels. I did not ride into the farther suburbs.

    Payment is by individual-trip tokens, or by smart card. There are some transit vending machines, though most people stand in lines at ticket windows. Smart card fares include a 10% discount at peak, and a 20% discount off-peak. A deposit is collected upon purchase of a smart card, which is 60% refundable if the card is returned undamaged. Fares are distance-based (reduced on Sundays and national holidays), and applied in six distance-blocks (0-2km, 2-5km, 5-12km, 12-21km, 21-32km, >32km), with the first costing Rs 10 (10 Indian rupees) by single-trip token and each subsequent block another Rs10 (so >32km costs Rs60). In US dollars, Rs10 is about $0.16 (by the ForEx rate), or about $0.55 in purchasing power (generally, in India, purchasing power of the dollar is about 3-4 times the ForEx rate; e.g. a $10 meal in the USA would be about $3 in India). The security deposit is Rs50 ($0.78 ForEx, about $2.75 purchasing power), of which Rs30 is refundable ($0.47 ForEx, about $1.65 purchasing power). Senior fare “concessions” (the typical term in India) are under consideration.

    Signage and announcements are in Hindi and English (it is pretty much standard in India that signage/announcements are in the local language as well as in English anywhere where either non-local Indian or foreign travelers are likely to be present).

    Generally, I found that I could get within reasonable walking distance (about a mile) of just about anyplace I wanted to go in Delhi using the Metro (generally within a kilometer or less), and the few exceptions (like Hazrat Nizamuddin) should be fixed within a year or so. Of course, I was not interested in going to the farther-out suburbs (except to one or two famous heritage sites like Qutb Minar, which are easily Metro accessible)..

  6. FYI folks the Seattle City Council hearing on Streetcar Options is when? 10 AM Monday. No public comment. Council meeting at 2 PM doesn’t have this on the agenda, so no public comment then.

    Thanks partially to a certain individual with bombastic misbehavior so bombastic as to force reforms to public comment that limit public comment to agenda items. Most of us know who he is, so I’m not going to give the perennial candidate further name ID that I suspect he gets high on. I just sigh we can’t eject the bullies ruining public comment for the rest of us.

  7. I was in NYC just once, in the 1990s, and the subway was both safe and reliable. Such a shame to hear the system has been allowed to fall apart again.

    1. In general I would say it is plenty safe, just not that reliable. Actually, it really depends on the line. There are some lines that always struggle, while other lines are fine most of the time (similar to the brand new Link). Folks are not happy with the problems, but they adjust (just as people adjust to traffic while driving). It is ridiculous that the state hasn’t ponied up the money to fix it, but maintenance is never a popular political stance. Republicans want to lower taxes, and Democrats want to build new things. The worst part is, the work that really pays off isn’t noticed right away (making it a tempting target). You only notice the lack of maintenance years later. I do think there is a good chance that many of the problems will be fixed, because there is political gain by actually fixing it, as opposed to preventing it from having problems in the first place. The problem is it costs a bunch of money. Fixing it should have been part of the stimulus bill (which should have been much bigger) but politics got in the way.

  8. Considering possible body count from a single accident in the New York, or DC, or Bay Area subways. Not to mention possible poisoning of drinking water, or disease ridden sewage…somebody tell me why these conditions are not in the Defense Budget to remedy?

    The reputation of the F-35 jet fighter is that it’s worthless. And its cost is $95 million per plane. Price of intended production could save more than one US city from destruction, couldn’t it? Fact that the Democrats haven’t said this once, six months before an election, could challenge unspoken Constitutional requirement that no one can take office who is dead,



  9. Glenn, the Benson cars aren’t necessarily part of the a past. We’ve been taking very good care of two of them. Very likely you’ll see them along the car-line we’re now connecting up.

    Also wouldn’t grieve their permanent absence along the Waterfront. Line haul transit has always been weakest point of the design of the next Waterfront. Planners kept streetcars in the renderings until fairly late. It’s like somebody is still imagining the crowds of pre-2005.

    Even thinking about “vans” for sole transit mode ought to include top hats, checkered vests, and watch-chains. And both passengers and patrons of the outdoor cafe’s lining the city-side edge of the project won’t much like views of packed buses stuck in traffic.

    From Pike Place Market to Myrtle Edwards, First Avenue is one cliff too high for the kind of access transit needs. Waterfront and First certainly can have a car-line each. No problem for buses on streets one block apart, is there? They can also share substations, communications, and repairs.

    We’re not talking either bullet-train or subway here. Not going to link my pics of a light rail freight locomotive in Germany. Have been told their system doesn’t work. But to me, even worse weakness than the transit is the absolute absence of any productive enterprise, both for financial support, but also letting people be among machinery, always connected with seaports.

    Be good to take a load off the philanthropists. Understatement that the work isn’t finished. Good thing about streetcars in large wide plazas is that people are easy around them, and they don’t take up very much room.


    1. Mark, thanks for pointing out that there is quite an elevation change from Alaskan Way to 1st, and only to many ways one might avoid steep slopes or stairs. The Marion walkway is the only way I know of in that part of Town. And I am not at all entirely convinced that there will be an elevated walkway from the ferry terminal boarding/disembarking level to 1st Ave. It seems to be in the plans (design process finished this year, construction beginning next year), but after all, Rapid Ride keeps getting watered down, the streetcar has literally *begun construction* and might still be canceled, and a bunch of bike stuff is also “in the plans.” At any rate, there will presumably be a period of time during construction that there is no elevated walkway.

      If the streetcar plans are ultimately scrapped, bringing Rapid Ride G down to the docks and linking up with the planned waterfront shuttles would be a solid alternative, since there’s much less point in a stop at that part of 1st Ave. without it being a shared streetcar stop. And if bus bays at the Coleman Docks are not in the plans, why the hell would a regional “intermodal” transportation node not have them?

  10. Thanks for the book list, Mike. But little perspective:


    When Le Corbusier’s greatest European admirers lost the Second World War, he was lucky to find a powerful New York City official to do for NYC what the Luftwaffe couldn’t do because it didn’t get four engined bombers or V-2 missiles soon enough.

    Vistas to the horizon of glass skyscrapers, joined by a mass transit system formed completely of cars on freeways somehow always empty. Not a car, nor a person, in sight. History lucked us out, though. A few decades later, and Donald Trump wouldn’t have been able to save us from Robert Moses.

    Feel bad about James Webb, though. Fantastic subject. The Scots Irish really are a lot less known and appreciated than they deserve. But true understanding requires knowing some history that’ll turn your hair white. Unless it was red before.

    For about twenty times the age of the United States, the part of the Northern British Isles that finally became Northern England, Scotland, and Ireland featured a permanent state of war that would’ve made the Comanches look incapable of rape and murder. So much for White Identity.

    The movie stunk, but the book “Little Big Man” showed perfectly how the Cheyenne admired an undersized Scots-Irish kid with red hair, freckles, and pure savagery. Both ethnic groups literally Born Fighting.


    Even better background and also really bad movie, but the book “Winter’s Bone” gives another hair-on-end accurate description of James Webb’s people. Jennifer Lawrence isn’t half mean or skinny enough for the part.

    But worst of all, Hollywood really shows a yellow streak by giving the hero a handsome little scar instead of real results of his meth lab blowing up right next to him. The book also gives some true history about the Ozarks you won’t be able to put down.


    Always kind of sorry about James Webb, though. Someone with his background and personal bravery (the Marines also like people with red hair, freckles, and that other thing- best not cross Bonnie Todd) should talk like a clan chieftain, not a standard cookie-cutter conservative Think-Tanker.


    He should have stopped with that.

    Really, Mike, many thanks.


  11. At least some of the problem in New York, at least, seems to be a complete loss of cost control. For example, I’ve heard that the Second Ave Subway is apparently running 5-7x the cost of similar projects in Europe. In general, I think there are plenty of projects that could work in the US…but the long tendency towards major projects having costs fly out of hand (the Robert Moses approach of underestimating the cost of a project and then coming back for more money partway in is particularly pernicious in the damage it has done, to say nothing of the CAHSR cost estimate spike (or the “Christmas Tree” approach to the Gateway project, for that matter).

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