Tag Archives: boondoggle

What Do I Think of the Diverging Diamond Interchange?

 

By Dom Nozzi

Febuary 2, 2017

Superior, Colorado built a “diverging diamond” interchange that opened in October 2015. It was only the second such interchange to ever be built in Colorado. Traffic engineers are imagessinging its praises throughout the nation. A newspaper article appearing in the February 2, 2017 edition of the Boulder Daily Camera fawned over the fantastic new addition to the region’s transportation system.

I am not joining the engineers or the newspaper in their love affair with the design.

Instead, I find such designs a colossal waste of money – money that could have been used for, say, transit. They are also a colossal waste of land. An entire city could fit inside one of these intersections.

The diverging diamond is a boondoggle for those reasons. But it is also a blunder because they promote increased per capita car travel. Why? In part because they are nearly 51df393d218c6-imageimpossible to cross by foot or bicycle. And in part because in the long run they will further disperse land development in a more sprawling way. Those increased distances will make it increasingly impractical to walk, bicycle or use transit.

Ironically, the major justification for the car-only design is that it briefly reduce intersection congestion, which will initially save a few seconds of motorist time (think of the fiscal irresponsibility of spending millions of public dollars spent to save a few seconds temporarily). Ironic because by artificially inducing more car trips than would have occurred had the diverging diamond not been built, the design will lead to MORE traffic congestion and MORE time delay for motorists in the long term (both at their location and areas in the region).

To hide the embarrassing fact that the millions spent ($14 million in this case) to briefly save a few seconds of time, the publicly proclaimed explanation is that it will improve safety. For the conventional traffic engineer, “improved safety” actually means that motorists can now drive faster and more inattentively with less fear of crashing. No mention is made of the fact that the intersection is much less safe for pedestrians or bicyclists, or that faster, less attentive driving is very dangerous for everyone.

The diverging diamond, therefore, is an excellent example of the century-long failure by conventional traffic engineers to understand induced car trips that are created by (briefly) reducing traffic congestion with these designs. There is a reason, after all, that many researchers repeatedly urge us to understand that it is impossible to build our way out of congestion. It is like loosening your belt to solve obesity.

But wait. There’s more.

Not only is the diverging diamond a boondoggle in the above mentioned ways. It also damages our world by adding more auto emissions into our air (by increasing per capita car trips) and reducing potential tax revenues in the region (by encouraging dispersed rather than compact land use patterns).

Future generations will shake their heads in disbelief over why our generation built these monstrosities.

There is one tiny upside to this overwhelmingly negative idea: it produces future jobs for people hired to remove these mistakes after we regain our senses.

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Filed under Bicycling, Sprawl, Suburbia, Transportation, Urban Design

The Colossal Boondoggle of the War on Terrorism

I just finished reading an extremely disturbing, important book. Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War, by James Risen, catalogs the immense, disgusting greed, corruption, unchecked power, incompetency, loss of privacy, waste (of both lives and hundreds of billions of public dollars), and utter dishonesty of both the Bush and Obama administrations.

The War on Terror boondoggle engaged in by Bush and now by Obama has become a vicious, downward spiral of what is now an ENDLESS war against “terrorism” (that, incidentally, is making future terrorism against the US much more likely). The “Terrorism Industry” includes a large number of Republicans AND Democrats, who are criminally, shamelessly leveraging public fear to pocket billions of public dollars (in the name of fighting terrorism). Bush and Obama have been shoveling hundreds of billions of dollars into places like Iraq and Afghanistan to make those nations “democracies.” Countless people in both those nations and in the US have quickly succeeded in enriching themselves by directing that money to their bank accounts and their “terrorism/democracy” contractor businesses.

It is obscene how much money has been thrown away in this boondoggle. And how many people, communities and nations have been ruined or killed in the process.war-on-terror

It is despicable how gullible the federal government has been in hiring crooks who have, for example, claimed they have secret software able to decode secret messages from terrorists. Even a 10-year old would be able to see through this scam, yet the “leaders” and “thinkers” of America buy it hook, line and sinker. At the cost of countless public dollars and innocent lives.

Chillingly, the magical code-breaking software created by the charlatan lead, at one point, to a situation where Bush nearly ordered that civilian airliners from France to the US be shot down over the Atlantic. Think about THAT the next time you are flying home from a vacation in France.

The software turned out to be completely bogus.

This fiasco has spawned a large collection of corrupt companies that are gobbling up billions of public dollars naively being showered on them by bureaucratic ideologues and a corrupt Congress. These start-up businesses are happily creating such things as militarized drones that have compelled both Bush and to a much larger degree, Obama, to engage in war crimes by promiscuously killing civilians overseas.

This is not to mention, by the way, the torture that both Bush and Obama have authorized to extract “truth” from “terrorists”. And not to mention the vast domestic spying program that Obama has substantially ramped up.

There is no end in sight to the extreme waste of public dollars and the killing of so many people, because the “War on Terror” is self-perpetuating. The more the US kills people in Iraq and Afghanistan, the more the US breeds hatred against America. The US thereby gives birth to more “terrorists” (like “ISIS”). That compels the US to spend even MORE billions of dollars to fight harder against terrorism. And so on. Endlessly.

Do you wonder why so many American communities are suffering from a severe shortfall in dollars for education, health, and transportation? Why taxes need to be raised so often? We now know an important reason: Our hard-earned tax dollars are being squandered as we pour trillions of dollars, counterproductively, down the Terrorism Rathole.

The key leverage point to enrich all of the corrupt people involved in the Terrorism Industry is fear. The War on Terror is therefore endless. The more we fight the War, the more anger and fear we create. The more anger and fear we create, the harder we must fight the war, and the more public dollars we agree to spend. Great news for the Terrorism Industry: NONE of the US presidential candidates running for the 2016 election will do anything to start ratcheting down this endless war.

None.

Why should they? It is a great way to siphon loads of public money into their pockets, and to pour both money and jobs into their congressional districts.

Don’t miss this exceptional, courageous book by one of America’s leading investigative reporters.

Risen, James (2014). Pay Any Price: Greed, Power, and Endless War. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304 pages.

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Filed under Politics