Monthly Archives: October 2016

Lowball Watch — Arkansas of October 21, 2016, reports that the State Highway and Transportation Department, having deposited $639,000 into court, but having been confronted with the owners’ appraisal of $1,600,000, thought better of it and settled via a consent judgment for $1,525,000.

The initial bone of contention was that the State’s initial deposit failed to take into account the substantial impairment of access to the remainder caused by the partial taking, and the loss of parking on the remaining land, after the partial taking.

California Choo-Choo (Cont’d.)

We haven’t had much to say about our aborning “Bullet Train” and the plans therefor because there hasn’t been much news in that department lately. But the Los Angeles Times of October 21, 2016, at p. B1, Bullet Train’s Capacity Could be Downsized, informs us that we are about to get less bang for our buck. Quoting:

The California bullet train authority has told its design engineers that the future [railroad] system would have shorter trains and smaller station platforms reducing the capacity of individual trains by roughly 50% and potentially the capacity of the entire Los Angeles-to-San Francisco route.

This dispatch says nothing about the — to us — obvious consequence that smaller trains means smaller passenger capacity and therefore lower revenues. Yes?

To borrow Kurt Vonnegut’s favorite line, “and so it goes.”

Words Without Comment

A quote from Matthew Hennessey, Hartford’s Big Dig, Oct. 1, 2016:

“In Connecticut as in the rest of the country, massive interstate construction projects followed President Dwight Eisenhower’s signing of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956. Cities like Hartford were then suffering massive traffic congestion problems, as rising postwar incomes spurred a boom in individual car ownership. In 1949, several major insurance companies asked the engineering firm Andrews and Clark to compile an “Arterial Plan for Hartford” under the direction of New Haven native Robert Moses. “Doctors, we are told, bury their mistakes, planners by the same token embalm theirs, and engineers inflict them on their children’s children,” wrote Moses in a cover letter. It was an oddly prophetic warning from a man blamed by many for ruining New York City with his car-dependent infrastructure projects.”

For the entire article go to

We might add, however, for the benefit of readers who are too young to remember these things, that the official justification for constructing the interstate highway network was defense: to facilitate military transportation in case of need. Tue, we have never seen (or heard of) Abrams tanks clanking down an Interstate, but, hey man, who are we to argues with our betters?

More Redevelopment Bad News — Washington, DC

If you keep track of takings for redevelopment, you may have come across news of Skyland, a major redevelopment project in Washington, DC, in the Southeast part thereof. It was supposed to be a big hotsy-totsy project anchored by Walmart, with the usual projections of a rosy future. Something like this:

The Skyland Town Center property is now in the hands of the development team.

But as is so often the case, things didn’t work out as hoped. Long story short, Walmart pulled out of the deal, and the project has so far, produced another one of those urban deserts that looks more like this:


And this is the good part. Much (most?) of the project area looks more like an urban desert; like this:

To be fair, the project promoters claim that they will build another, smaller project but whether and how they will actually do it remains to be seen, particularly since the economy appears something less than robust at the moment. This project has been pending for over 10 years, and if these pictures are any indication, there is not much to brag about here.

We will try to follow up on this story, but for some reason, it has not been covered to speak of in the major newspapers. And so it goes.