Transportation headlines, Tuesday, March 22

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

A chance to build again (New York Times)

In an editorial, the Times calls for the creation of an infrastructure bank to provide loans to state and local governments to build or rebuild build major infrastructure projects — including big-ticket transportation items. Here’s the editorial’s lead:

Many of the 85,000 dams in the United States are so old — an average of half a century — that every time one is repaired, two more become dangerously weak. Cities across the country discharge billions of gallons of untreated wastewater into rivers and lakes, and more than a quarter of all bridges are either deficient or obsolete.

The statistics are both frightening and familiar, though they tend to come up only in the “crumbling infrastructure” articles that appear after major disasters. In practice, government — with its lack of cash and consensus — keeps most of these projects on distant back burners until people actually lose their lives.

President Obama has proposed an infrastructure bank and last week three Senators — John Kerry (D-Mass.), Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) — offered a similar plan. We’ll see if it floats. Speaking of which, here’s a mighty interesting Times news story about the problems facing the Lake Isabella Dam, upstream of Bakersfield.

New York makes its case for bike lanes (New York Times)

The media — specifically New York magazine and then the New Yorker — has recently made a fuss over Mayor Bloomberg’s expansion of bike lanes. In Brooklyn, residents have even sued to have one bike lane removed near Prospect Park (no!! — that’s my old ‘hood!). As a result, the mayor’s office has released a two-page memo (pdf) making the case that bike lanes lead to fewer cycling accidents and enjoy the support of the majority of the community. Still, some fear the loss of parking and that Bloomberg is trying to remake New York into one of those progressive, classy European cities.

Busway for Van Nuys Boulevard eyed (Daily News)

The article provides a good overview of some of the proposals that will be studied to improve bus service along the busy thoroughfare. Among them are a busway down the median of the boulevard. Another option would provide grade separations at four highly-trafficked intersections. The study should get going later this year.

Improving transit speed downtown (Portland Transport)

Interesting blog entry about the slowness of light rail trains through downtown Portland and the desire of some people for a downtown subway to speed up those trains. Attentive readers know that Metro recently decided to build the Regional Connector underground, in part, to keep trains moving faster than vehicles.