Transportation headlines, Friday, Feb. 17

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 Headlines blog, which you can also access via email subscription or RSS feed.

Above: A nice feature from ABC 7, which highlights the A-Z of Los Angeles landmarks. “U” goes to Metro’s very own Union Station. Any other letters you think should be represented by an L.A. transit landmark? Let us know in the comments.

Spending won’t fix what ails U.S. infrastructure: Edward Glaeser (Bloomberg)

Harvard economist Ed Glaeser penned a really smart column detailing why we can’t merely build our way to better infrastructure. In short, we need to be more prudent about how we manage our roads, rails and bridges, and that means making road users pay the full cost the impacts they have on the environment — air pollution, congestion, degradation of roads, etc. Here’s a particularly cogent paragraph:

We should expect drivers to pay for more than just the physical costs of their travel. We should also expect them to pay for the congestion that they impose on other road users. If you have a scarce commodity, whether groceries or roads, and you insist on charging prices below market rates, the result will be long lines and stock outs, like those that bedeviled the Soviet Union decades ago. Yet U.S. roads are still running a Soviet-style transport policy, where we charge too little for valuable city streets. Traffic congestion is the urban equivalent of a stock out.

Good news for Google: Nevada approves self-driving car regulations (Venture Beat)

Nevada is the first state out of the gate to approve regulations for self-driving cars, reports tech blog Venture Beat. The main hurdle — aside from, you know, designing cars that can drive themselves — was getting political consensus from “insurance companies, car manufacturers, police and other stakeholders. The big winner for now is Google, which can now ramp up testing of its driverless cars on the Las Vegas Strip (I presume).

SoCal gas prices soar 5 cents overnight to $4 a gallon (Daily News)

Typically February provides a respite for drivers as gas prices hang low. But not so this year, as a gallon of regular now costs a quarter more than it did a month ago. Typically prices peak in the summer as refineries switch over to making a more expensive, but cleaner-burning fuel — hot sun-filled days tend to exacerbate smog and other pollution. That’s to say, $5 per gallon gas might not be out of the question come July and August.