Friday, July 17, 2015

Roads to nowhere

Baltimore has a famous "Highway to Nowhere" and it destroyed several neighborhoods, the same ones that got again the shaft when transit was cancelled that would have given that corridor at least some meaning. The communities had spent hundreds of hours planning around their planned stations.
SHA brochure

But there are other highways to nowhere: One of them is route 404. And I don't mean that it ends at the beach, for many that is somewhere. I don't mean even that it ends in Delaware which shouldn't be necessarily the prime destination for Maryland's expenditures. What I mean is that the highway engineers of Delaware are in no hurry to make their parts of the trip (DE 16) a four lane highway or even avoid towns, lights and turns. So they Maryland freeway goes nowhere. But hey, as far as I am concerned, I prefer travel on the slower curvy Delaware segment anyway. It gives a much better flavor of the Eastern Shore.
Maryland supports economic development in Delaware: Dolphins rejoice

But the point of how wasteful such highway spending really is becomes clear when you read this story. It shows with numbers what many of us know anecdotaly. When it comes to road building, there is no scrutiny. The asphalt lobby always wins, the pet projects of local politicians always get built and hardly any questions get asked. 

The irony: Route 404 gets widened for weekend beach goers to spend money in another state with the money that got pilfered from the Red Line coffers so that working weekday Baltimore commuters will continue to get stuck on congested roads. Go figure.

Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

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