This is a misleading overstatement. This is only true if you want to drive the roads labeled as I-95. There are indeed two segments labeled as I-95 that are discontinuous: the NJ Turnpike south until exit 6, and from Trenton southwards through PA to Delaware. But those segments are linked by the remainder of the NJ Turnpike, which forms a continuous highway route from northern NJ through to Delaware, and the signage indicates that all through traffic should do that.
Ascii art diagram:
Actually, that applies to pretty much all roads—not just highways.
I also think the shifts coming in transportation will be a lot more than an "automated uber". There will likely be a lot of automated carpooling and carpool discovery along the line of ad-hoc ride-sharing discovery. Bottom-line, I assume there will be a lot less parked hunks of metal in city centers, which will itself alter what an efficient layout entails.
The entire US is designed around personal automobile ownership to an incredible degree. Anything that affects that one way or another drastically changes optimal design layout for both residential and commercial planning.
As a simple example of this, if you've ever driven down a corridor of highway or an arterial route that is one strip mall after another behind parking lots, imagine how that changes is a large chunk of people are no longer driving their own cars leisurely, but instead hiring transport to a specific point. Road visibility is much less important. Parking lots in front are mostly superfluous. Basically, walk-able downtown areas and enclosed malls may see (and I think already are seeing) a resurgence.
I think the confusing part is merely why they word it that way; everwhere else does just fine with understanding that sometimes driving north on a freeway has you going east or west for a time.
Unless someone invents teleportation, what we have currently for transportation infrastructure is probably as good as it will get, with possibly hyper local, minimal improvements.
The other major consumer of rail in the US is freight and they don't generally need high speed rail, and so while I would enjoy having more high speed rail lines as an option I haven't been able to rationalize the use case. Private rail permits use by passenger rail but does not prioritize for it.
Here was a good slide deck that I had been using as reference for a while that has good data on how Amtrak exists at all: https://www.fhwa.dot.gov/Planning/freight_planning/talking_f...
I wouldn't ignore the routes that connect Chicago to the rest of the Midwest:
- Route, FY2015 Passengers, ~Distance (miles)
- Chicago – St. Louis, 576,705, 295
- Chicago – Milwaukee, 799,271, 92
- Chicago – Pontiac via Detroit 465,627, 280
These numbers are despite the truly awful experience, in many cases, of waiting long periods for freight traffic to pass. These distances are in the sweet-spot for HSR, which could be quite popular on these routes.
The long pole for speed is lower speed limits in some parts of the route for the benefit of neighbors living along the tracks. Those politics are unlikely to be affected by the technical infrastructure.
At ~90 minutes, the journey from Milwaukee is better than the commute from many parts of Chicagoland.
It's a shame that the NEC hasn't been brought up to higher speeds than 125mph, but that's largely a function of the remediation needed to do that costing serious money  and the politics of infrastructure disbursement not favoring doling out cash to favor largely the NYC area.
 You need, at a minimum, new track with less curves in most of suburban of CT; new Hudson River tunnels; new Portal Bridge; at least a third track in the MD-DE stretch (including a new bridge on the Susquehanna); and replacement of the B&P tunnel, whose condition was "this needs to be replaced" when Amtrak was started and has degraded to "how hasn't this failed yet?"
Seriously this would transform the state. Make all the tech talent in Austin available to energy companies in Houston. Integrate the tech talent market for Austin and DFW. And the land over which the rail would be built is pretty flat as well.
What is this based on? Certainly there have been many studies. Also, to be clear, Acela is not HSR by that definition.
I can imagine many other places: Florida, then north to Atlanta and west to New Orleans, and then connecting to Texas. DC down to NC, then Atlanta, then connecting to Florida. Vancouver (with some international cooperation) to Seattle to Portland to the Bay Area, connecting to the rest of California. A Midwest network of St Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Detroit, Columbus, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, Pittsburgh (connecting to the east coast via Philadelphia), and north from Detroit to Toronto and Montreal. Las Vegas and Phoenix might want a connect to the California network.
You also need to have evidence of strong existing demand between city pairs (this is basically Florida's problem; there's just not enough travel between its major cities), and you also want a decent urban mass transit system (this is where Texas suffers).
Hitting 220mph service needs dedicated track--you can't mix trains of different speed regimes on the same track without very strict schedule reliability, and the US just doesn't have that reliability. 125mph is more doable, if you have ample opportunity to do the passing, although you still need better reliability than the US sees now. The Midwest just doesn't have the demand to justify building dedicated track, so it's not worth 220mph service.
Yes, Acela is not true HSR, and it's a crying shame because the NEC is the best, or very nearly the best, place in the world to put HSR. But outside of the NEC, the US is simply too big, and its major cities simply too far apart from each other, to put HSR in.
It'll likely be the same for high-speed rail, hyperloops, and under-city tunnels. Once we're at war again there will be a huge incentive to be able to move large quantities of people across the country within hours, and ideally do so out of the reach of aerial bombardment.
It would be nice if we could do this without blowing everything up, though.
Please don't make the mistake of equating the hyperloop scheme with reputable and tried-and-true railway services. Hyperloop is at best a marketing gimmick based on naive and ill-informed notions of what it takes to run a vehicle in a track, while real railway services are mundane technologies which have been proven to work for at least half a century.
Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is not wisdom. A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past; he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future. The future can be better than the past. According to the data it has been . So optimism isn't a fluffy ideal to scoff at.
Newton's laws make it clear that approaching vacuum allows for greater speeds. An object in motion will remain in motion unless an outside force acts upon it . Therefore, the greater part of truth is out of reach of cynicism.
What is more likely, that a man who heads a company that works in the space sector would think that moving through a near-vacuum was honestly more efficient ? Or that he would propose it merely as a marketing gimmick? And why can't it be both?
The reason your infrastructure sucks is because your nation would rather spend money on war than anything else.
I think that the securitization and sell off of these mortgage backed securities were the banks trying to pass the hot potato off onto somebody else. They knew it would blow up, only the financially illiterate, and busybody do-gooders in government with a regulatory gun to the banks heads didn't see it coming with predictable results.
"No executive of a major mortgage company said at the time that the government was forcing them to make subprime loans. They said they did it because they thought they would make money. And even now, after the crash of the housing market, with all the temptation to point fingers, it is awfully hard to find a mortgage executive who echoes the argument"
Before the crisis, people figured out that if you bundled a lot of them together and sliced up the bundle in clever ways, you could shuffle the risk around and manage it better. People who wanted riskier assets could get them, and people who wanted safer assets with lower returns could get them too.
Except this only works if you actually evaluate the risk correctly. If you underestimate the potential for large-scale default due to, say, a sudden drop in house prices, then everything gets screwed up, and people who bought “safe” assets suddenly find themselves losing their investment.
It was demand for mortgage-backed securities (viewed as traditionally safe assets for investment) from investment funds that led to more and more lenient mortgage qualifications to increase supply, weakening the previous strength of those securities overall that, through layers of financial indirection (see tranches), were not valued correctly until too late (with the subsequent credit default swap responsibilities crippling interbank loaning).
This was targeted predatory lending, often targeted at people who already had home equity in some form. This was not something significantly exacerbated by the FHA.
Anyone pushing that narrative is trying to pushing a implicitly racist 'reason' for the financial crisis: "it was all them loans to the black people that did it" .
I agree it’s not the whole story, but it’s something.
...a rate which almost nobody actually paid, given the copious methods for reducing tax liability available at the time (most of which have since been eliminated).
- During WWI it peaked at 77%
- During WWII it peaked at 94%!!
Capital gains -- the rate the upper class actually pays -- has never risen above 35% at the federal level. And that's within a few points of 2018 marginal rates when we factor in state level taxes for places like California. The tax moved from federal to state (or to earmarked federal, like NIIT)
1945: 35% federal + 6% state = 41%
2018: 25% federal + 3.8% NIIT + 13.1% state = 41.9%
Prior to losing SALT, wealthy Californians paid slightly lower marginal rates than in 1945. Trump's changes cause the current marginal tax rate for wealthy Californians to be higher than in 1945 -- the year you're calling out as a peak.
No one really paid 94%.
The bulk of the interstate highway system was built between 1960 and 1980.
The percentage of GDP collected as income taxes is about the same then as it is now. In fact, the top 1% paid less of the total taxes during the New Deal than now.
To be clear; I’m not blaming the actual victims of bigots and intolerants, nor do I want to remove any blame from the bigots and intolerants. I simply want to add some blame to those blindly pushing diversity without regard to who gets hurt.
Generations of abused minorities and women might beg to differ, from slavery to lynchings to internment camps to mass oppression, abused people from Germany (yes, you read that correctly), Italy, Ireland, China, Japan ... people who were Jewish, Catholic, Latino, African-American (of course), etc etc. etc. would all say otherwise. Assuming you are talking about the U.S., until 1920, women couldn't even vote. Until the approximately the generation who came of age in the 1980s, they didn't have access to most of the labor market - unless their husband gave permission (maybe that ended around the 1950s and 1960s) - and in most fields they still are excluded from the top positions and in many fields are still excluded from most positions except HR, receptionist, and organizing the office party.
EDIT: Some updates
That being said, with the exception of public transit systems like the NYMTA, etc., essentially all of the rail in the US is privately owned, and was privately funded.
Government grants to railroads have a rich history. The B&O was partially owned by the state of Maryland (and had an exemption from state taxes!). Most of the western railroads were financed by the government giving them adjacent land to their tracks for free.
More seriously though: its easy to bank all your hopes on one person that seems to deliver things but this isn't how it works in real life. We need a system where its easier to plan and build infrastructure. Not to accept the system as given and wait for superheros who will fix it all by themselves.
Would it be better if we were more proactive as a society in investing in infrastructure? Sure. That doesn't detract from the fact that I like the prospects of what The Boring Company might accomplish.
The problem is not how expensive high-speed railway projects are. The problem is that in general, with a couple of notable exceptiobs, high-speed railway services are massive money drains with absolutely no viable business model.
If their natural unprofitability is compounded with infrastructure costs then the problem is further compounded.
That's the main reason why private entities routinely invest more money in some profitable projects but they stay clear of even investing in conventional railway services.
“the most traveled highway in America, spanning 1,900 miles from Miami to Maine.”
Who pays for all the roads? The gas tax doesn’t cover it.
I’d think that between Boston and at least DC, there’s a need to travel by train at 225 mph. With a little vision, it could go to Miami.
As it currently stands, there is no direct interstate highway between Philly and New York. If you ever take a Bolt or Megabus between the two cities you'll notice it usually takes exit 4 on the Turnpike and drives through suburban Cherry Hill NJ to get into Philly. To get between the two cities you have to exit and take a more local road through NJ for a couple miles. This interchange will connect it so you can go directly from "Pennsylvania 95" to I276 to "NJ Turnpike 95". (Except now all called "95")
If you are driving direct from New York/Boston to DC, you'll in all likelihood never see this interchange and continue take the NJ Turnpike all the way down to Delaware in order to bypass Philadelphia traffic and construction.
If you say that you don't want to trust data compiled and reviewed by an association of civil engineers, then you should probably stop using ADA approved toothpaste and cease getting those AMA recommended medical check-ups.
I hope that didn't come across too harshly, but there seems to be a wave of anti-intellectualism that has been spreading across the US. Obviously that sentiment has formed in no small part due to actual abuses that have been carried out by those with vested interests, but we need to be careful that we don't take what would otherwise be a healthy skepticism of the actions and proscriptions of organizations too far and mis-trust all professional organizations or everything that they publish...
I agree that we shouldn't take skepticism of expertise too far, and I'm rather baffled at how you'd attribute the sentiment you're denouncing to my comment. What I want is more evidence from more sources. Only the most uncharitable reading of my point would conclude I'm advocating any srt of anti-intellectualism.
75000 other bridges had the same "structurally deficient" classification in 2007. The I-35 bridge was at the 4th percentile for structural sufficiency when rated with 100000 bridges in 2005.
We are sending out engineers every year to look at bridges, and every year they are very nervous when turning in their reports. Whether things get fixed or not is often due to the economic situation at the time the report is made, and the local political will.
What I'm mainly worried about is dams, not bridges: https://www.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/news/local/commun...
We've done this because, as with any Ponzi scheme, new growth provides the illusion of prosperity. In the near term, revenue grows, while the corresponding maintenance obligations — which are not counted on the public balance sheet — are a generation away.
I hear in China they’re building tens of thousands of miles of fast trains. Fast and slow maglev trains, etc.
Wait until there are 500 million Americans. Maybe then we’ll think of better solutions.
Yes, it would have been be logical to simply redesignate the NJ Turnpike as i95 for its duration, and relabel the highway that goes through Philly with another number, but instead we got the craziness that exists till today.
If you want an improvement then paying by weight and mileage would be more fair unlike our current system which discounts trucks which do far more damage than their fuel usage accounts for. But, tolls are on net an even worse system than we already have.
That's just a glass half full way of saying that tolls keep poor people from taking trips that would involve those roads so the roads are less busy. $5 or $10 isn't much when your lunch is an overpriced $15 bagel at some trendy authentic restaurant. People who are packing PB&J to the job side avoid the toll road even if it takes longer
Road tolls are just another regressive tax. If the state senators don't want to sit in the same gridlock as the plebes they should take the train, not tax the plebes off the road. If the train is also too crowded they should increase infrastructure spending on one/both counts until the clusterfuck is reduced to a point they're ok with.
Tolls never go away. The best the poor people can hope for is that they don't get inflation adjusted so that there's a 10-20yr run where it's affordable to use the road before the politicians realize that the toll is low and raise it again.
> I always wondered why public roads would opt for awful toll plaza back-ups over increasing the gas tax.
Open-road tolling with a combination of transceivers and a "pay online later" solves this problem. Toll plazas (and the people who work them) are entirely unnecessary.
Because it has the side benefit of being an easier/cheaper way to track people than license plate cameras. They could just do pay by plate and give people a paperless discount if they only wanted to save money. I bet EZpass gets a cut too so that adds yet another dimension to it.
>There is very little need to slow down
Yet morons still feel the need to do so creating the same traffic jams that high speed tolling was supposed to solve...
>This ensures that the roads that actually get used get the money from people using them
This is what they said about I90 in MA "the tolls will just stick around long enough to pay for the cost of construction." The it was "it'll only be used to pay for maintenance". Famous last words. We all know how that turned out, just another revenue stream it's impossible to take away or account for the use of.
A lot of the E-ZPass system is about the simplification of the back-office processing. When you get a transponder, you have an account set up to do the debiting and also identify your current mailing address. License plate recognition, by contrast, requires getting details from different databases, and the mapping to the vehicle owner is less robust. It really is easier for the toll providers if they use a transponder system than it is to do license plate recognition.
Also, E-ZPass is an interagency consortium, not a company. It's actually largely run by the Port Authority of NY and NJ. The only fee that appears to be collected is a one-time $10 to use the trademark.
In Chicagoland, everybody seems to have no issue ripping through toll gates at 75-80 miles per hour. I assure you we are no smarter than anywhere else.
Now if there was a toll on all major roads of 2c a mile for cars and ten times that for trucks, then I'd be all for it.
I'd rather keep the tax and give them money, but that seems... difficult in the current political climate.
This instead forces users to have to commute large lengths regardless in a system that was designed, specifically, to reduce mobility all through the United states.
I, for one, would never identify "requiring less commutes" as a key facet of mobility. To me, it means that it is easier to get around – and on a large scale, that's absolutely the (successful) goal of the interstate system.
Edit: presidential spelling
There's no question that the rise of the automobile in the 1920s and later the development of the interstate highway system had a profound effect on city planning in the US. But the decline of interurban streetcars started well before the latter, and in many instances, even before the former; in which case, the interstate system accelerated an existing problem rather than creating it.
Nearly all streetcar/trolley lines were operated by private entities, and carried significant capital costs and ongoing maintenance concerns. Shortsighted agreements that gave monopoly or near-monopoly status to lines in exchange for fixed fares (the "five cent fare") . Those same agreements were financial albatrosses in the face of post-war inflation, and lines had varying degrees of success in pushing for minor fare increases. In New York in 1919, streetcar lines in Albany, Syracuse, Utica, and Troy were allowed to increase fares to six cents while New York City rejected any increase. By the 1920s, many of the country's streetcar lines had gone out of business; almost all had major financial struggles. This quote sums up the challenge:
> . Charles E. Chalmers, receiver of the bankrupt Second Avenue Railroad, despaired of gaining relief. “The five-cent street car fare has become an American
institution, and, as railroad operators, we must realize that this question of fare will be constantly with us. It will be a stumbling block as long as street cars run, and in New York City our people are wedded to the five-cent fare.”2
Attempts to ease tax and decades-old paving requirements on streetcar companies were met with failure, even as they further undermined cashflow. "“During the ten years from 1911 to 1920, the street railroads of New York State each year expended for paving alone an amount equal to an average of 23.4% of their net income, or to put it another way, the paving expense has amounted to approximately 5% of the total operating expenses of street railroads during that time" (60). Over 35% of NYC's paved area was maintained by street railroads. Worse, the railroads wound up subsidizing automobiles. Per J.C. Thirwall of GE's railway engineering department, "So long as municipalities offer the use of smooth pavements free of charge to all commercial vehicles and compel the railway company to pay not only for its own tracks but for much of the paving as well, a considerable bonus is offered to users of buses" (61). It also didn't help that politicians and the public at large saw street railroad owners as the prototypical villains of their day. Taken together, it all eventually combined to harm the streetcar's ability to compete with buses.
General Motors may have played a role in the final waning years of the streetcar, but only after the streetcar was already dying well before the federal government started subsidizing highways. Other factors were also involved. * Suburbanizing the Masses: Public Transport and Urban Development in Historical Perspective* is a fascinating series of essays analyzing how public transportation have shaped city planning since the 1850s. A number of the essays cover street railways in particular.
The same goes for the development of sprawl; there's an interesting study from 2015 that looked at street connectivity to measure sprawl and suggests that it predates the highway-centric city planning during the 50s that's widely labeled as the starting point:
> First, Fig. 1 indicates a rise in sprawl since the mid-1920s, with an acceleration after 1950. The early beginning of sprawl is notable, given that it predates the postwar era of mass car ownership. However, it provides quantitative evidence to confirm historical accounts that date the emergence of cul-de-sacs and similar departures from gridiron street patterns to the early to mid-20th century. Southworth and Ben-Joseph (17), for example, note the influence of the 1928 design, with cul-de-sacs prominently featured, for Radburn, New Jersey; they also point to the influence of recommendations for cul-de-sacs in reports by the Committee on Subdivision Layout (1932), Federal Housing Administration (1936), and Institute for Transportation Engineers (1965). These discrete events do not capture the more gradual evolution in street network design from the 1950s through the early 21st century, but our results closely match the archetypal patterns reported in ref. 17 and illustrated in the Lower panel of Fig. 1. 
There have absolutely been major negative consequences arising from how highway financing and subsidies were handled in the 50s. But many of the problems stemmed from how highways were viewed as "the greatest single element in the cure of city ills." The "artery" model was used by city planners to effectively gut their own cities, possibly in a way that Eisenhower himself never expected. When city planners wanted to get rid of poor people and "slums," which were predominantly African-American, the solution was to pave over their neighborhoods. The federal government even helped them pay for most of it. Highways became a cheap, easy tool for city planners as a result of these policies, and that had some truly disastrous consequences. Setting aside the social consequences, cities were paving the road for their tax bases to--literally--leave town. There are a number of excellent books and essays on the subject. Despite that, it's important to recognize that there's a difference between the bulk of the interstate highway system and its most problematic parts in and around urban cores.
Anyhow, getting back to the article, it's written in the context of the system--flaws and all--that we've got right now. In this context, completing the missing link on I-95 does increase mobility. That's a given. More than just this stretch of highway, there are trillions of dollars worth of private development and public infrastructure that have been built in an America with the highway systems as-is. Of that infrastructure, there's a $2+ trillion maintenance funding gap. Worse yet, as elements reach their designated end of life, it all will eventually need to be replaced. The sum total of that bill is yet to come due.
Would we have been better off had city-planners not seen highways as the hammer to their perceived nails (i.e. problems--redevelopment, transportation/mobility, etc.)? Probably. The good news is that modern city planning recognizes this, and attempts to correct for some of the consequences. Unfortunately, this can only happen incrementally. That's a slow, decades-long process and it's easy to miss just how long it's going to take or the kind of compromises that are necessary.
We're getting there. But in the meantime, we still have to maintain and update all of the rest of our infrastructure--even that which represents the biggest mistakes made during highway development in the 50s.