Saturday, October 29, 2011

Negative bang for big bucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that there were 345 high-occupancy vehicle projects in the U.S. in 2008.  Estimates are that these add up to 2,500-3,000 lane-miles. What do these things cost?  This source provides a range of $7.3-$15.4 million per mile. 

There is more to it.  I live near and survived carmageddon, but while the Interstate 405 in West Los Angeles is open, the 10-mile HOV-lane add-on construction will go on for years.  This creates all sorts of neighborhood traffic bottlenecks due to barriers around the construction site.

HOV-lanes were supposed to encourage commuting by carpool.  But first-to-the-data Wendell Cox reports here that the 2010 Census found that 9.4 percent of commuters in the 51 largest metropolitan areas carpooled, but 11.8 percent did so in 2000.  In other words, there has been a 20 percent decline.  Cost-benefit analysis is amazingly simple when spending more results in declining output.  (Yes, the rebuttal now fashionable is that, "but if we had spent more ...")

With Richard Epstein, you get quality as well as quantity.  He is amazingly clear and puts quite a few words, sentences, ideas into this eight-minute PBS NewHour interview. (H/T Carpe Diem)

Note what he says towards the end re infrastructure projects now and  50-years ago.  It was not always as crazy as today.  Is it that Bootleggers and Baptists was never this potent?  If so, is there any way out?  Can we have Richard Epstein for President?