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Al L'Agheny

Don't forget the Allegheny Valley Expressway.... Rt 28 haggling has gone on for many decades, and is specifically hindered by a historic church nobody visits and railroad right of ways that can't be touched by the one legitimate use of eminent domain.... So the roadway to the northeast remains a giant quagmire during work hours, and a dangerous roadway juat all times.


Kim Jong-Il built a 10-lane expressway in a country with few cars. Not sure what the point is here.

We're talking America. And we're talking Pittsburgh. Somebody put all these obstacles in place for a reason. Maybe not good reasons, but if you follow the money behind why we have a zillion local governments and ordinances throughout our history, you'll figure out why all this crap passed referendums and why the people behind them got elected in the first place.

The only "American" way out of this is to create incentives to get rid of the obstacles - and the zillions of local governments. Make them offers they can't refuse.

Perhaps we should spring Buddy Cianci from Providence out of jail and make him mayor. Providence is a great example of a city that successfully rebuilt its downtown while keeping its character. So what if the mob was involved? Our government can't do what the Chinese are doing. So if we want the capital improvements, let's do it the old fashioned way - lots of union jobs and graft. The real economic liquidity of urban development isn't in the idle land. It's in stealing the bricks and copper and occasional backhoe.

Just a thought.

Sam MacDonald

RichW wrote: "Kim Jong-Il built a 10-lane expressway in a country with few cars. Not sure what the point is here."

Hmm... My point certainly not that "Kim Jong-Il built a 10-lane expressway in a country with few cars."

Kim Jong-Il is North Korean, not Chinese. But that doesn't matter. My point is that these people get stuff done. I tried to point out several times that I do not approve of their approach. Few do. Instead, I am saying that we face a real challenge, and that is one of leadership. Like I said, environmental review is important. But is it so important that it should have kept the ICC from cutting across Maryland for 50 years? I repeat: fifty years. That's not review, that's stasis and indecision. Maybe the ICC is a bad. If so, an extremely vital and efficient society would have killed it off and come up with new solutions 45 years ago. A slow and deliberate democracy would have done so 30 years ago. Fifty years is too long. Just like 10 years is too long to plan a logging project.

As for graft, who knows? A certain amount is inevitable. And the first dollars spent on anything probably yield good returns. But eventually, like with everything else, subsequent dollars yield diminishing returns. You don't spend a million dollars on a security system to protect a $30,000 house. Have we reached that point? Maybe.

Either way, all I am saying is that when it starts taking several generations to plan a road, whether it's in Pittsburgh or Baltimore or North Korea, something's wrong. And terribly so.


My point was that using your analogy, the North Koreans are "can-do" people as well. There is no private property in our sense of the definition (therefore no eminent domain) in China (or N. Korea) so the government can do as it pleases. Thus, your argument is flawed.

As to your point about whether we could build an interstate system today, the answer is yes, assuming we didn't already have one in place. A key component of the argument for the interstate system back in the 40s and 50s was that it was necessary to mobilize troops and ordnance against the Red Threat. Facilitating interstate commerce was a bonus. If you recall, the original plans stated that for every X miles highway there had to be one straight mile of road unobstructed by overpasses so you could land a B-52 if needed.

Given today's passion for homeland security, it would be a top priority, pull out all the stops project. Again, assuming it wasn't already in place.

I'm with you on some of the waste (not PNC Park or the Convention Center though). I've been here four years and I'm still astounded anyone thought the Mon-Fayette was a worthwhile project. I wouldn't finish it.

I imagine the question you're asking is more like, "Where's our Bud Shuster?" Who did that guy have dirt on? That six-lane stretch of I-99 probably has about the same traffic density as Kim Jong-Il's highway to nowhere.

Sam MacDonald


Good points, although I still doubt whether a highway system could go in. People make national security claims about oil drilling in ANWR and that battle has still been years in the fighting.

But again, I want to point out that I am talking about more than government projects. In fact, as a small "l" libertarian, I have grave concerns about the use of eminent domain. Kelo? Me no likey. So I am not talking about greasing the skids of big government. Hell, the facists made the trains run on time. And I think to that in the long run, the Chinese will only succeed to the extent that they incorporate market forces in their economy. And they appear in some cases to be going in that direction. Are we? I don't think so. We appear to have lost faith in that rough-and-tumble system.

I worry that this national sense of "slowness," of trepidation, betrays a lack of confidence. Or worse, a lack of imagination or daring. This is why I am so upset about plans to use public money to build hotels and convention centers and stadiums. Where is our generation's P.T. Barnum, or whoever else would be creative enough to drive that kind of industry? It appears that we are either not willing to wait, or certain that the market for such services will "fail." Why so scared? Why not let private developers research downtown and do something creative or new or daring. Bureaucrats are a lot of things, but they are not known for innovation.

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