Transportation headlines, Tuesday, August 2

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 stalling recovery makes action increasingly urgent (Financial Times)

Writer Anna Fifield surveys the landscape of America’s neglected infrastructure and finds plenty of needed investments, and also political hurdles. When you’re bottoming out on a pothole or wondering why you can’t hitch a fast train to San Francisco, here’s what you need to know:

Indeed, the US spends only 2.4 per cent of gross domestic product on infrastructure – less than half the average of 5 per cent that prevails in European countries – and half the level of 1960, according to the Treasury.

The fundamental way to address this underinvestment, Fifield notes, is to raise more revenue. But there are other important tools that should be utilized, including public-private partnerships and an infrastructure bank.

Los Angeles 1906 Rail Map (Big Map Blog)

Take a minute and dive into this rail map from 105 years ago. A couple things to notice: 1) No freeways — that always throws off my L.A. geography, and 2) See if you can find the old rail lines whose rights-of-way were reused on current or planned Metro Rail lines.

A new kind of intersection eliminates dangerous, time-wasting left turns (Slate)

The first diverging diamond in the US. Photo by Missouri DOT.

It’s safe to say that most of us accept making left turns as a normal driving maneuver, but 40 percent of all crashes occur at intersections — and most of those are a result of left turns. So we should just get rid of left turns right? Tom Vanderbilt — author of the book Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do describes a way to do just that. He notes that grade separation — i.e. an aerial flyover ramp — is expensive and instead makes the case for something called a diverging diamond intersection. I’ll leave it to Vanderbilt to describe precisely how it works, but the benefits are pretty clear: It reduces “conflict points” at intersections from 26 to 14 and obviates the left-hand turn signal phase, thus reducing delays. Here’s a visualization of how it works on YouTube.