Saturday, April 2, 2016

Transportation News Round-Up: April 2, 2016

This week in transportation, California's high-speed rail project once again came under scrutiny, DC Metro might shut down an entire rail line, and traffic lights took a step towards irrelevance. Here are the most important and interesting transportation stories from the past week:

The Atlantic: A departure from decades of highway policy
This is an interesting article that delves into the upbringing of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx under the shadow of an urban freeway - the kind that, in too many cities, were built through low-income neighborhoods and severely depressed development in those areas for decades - and how this shaped his priorities as Secretary.

Fresno Bee: High-speed rail money risks come under Assembly scrutiny
At a hearing on the California High-Speed Rail Authority's new plan to shift its initial construction focus north while saving $10 billion in the short run, state lawmakers questioned how the agency will come up with what remains of the project's $64 billion price tag. They also blasted the agency for a lack of transparency, as some lawmakers representing southern areas felt blindsided by the agency's sudden change of plans.

Boston Globe: Bye-bye traffic lights
MIT's Senseable City Lab envisions a future where autonomous vehicles can communicate with one another in such a way as to eliminate the need for traffic lights. Instead of one direction of traffic coming to a complete standstill while others move, the cars will regulate their own speeds vis-a-vis one another's, speeding up or slowing down so that they arrive at the intersection at the perfect time to move through it. The video model is pretty hypnotic:

Washington Post: Metro could shut down entire rail lines to do extended maintenance, board chair says
Just two weeks after Metro shut down for an entire day so it could make much-needed safety inspections, General Manager Paul J. Wiedefeld admitted it might be necessary to shut down an entire line for up to six months so that all of the line's needed repair work could take place uninterrupted. We don't have any details yet, but with everything that has gone wrong with Metro over the past months and years, it might be necessary. The Post's unscientific reader's poll shows 65% support for the idea, but it's worth noting that the type of people who are most likely to read the Post and participate in the poll are also the people most likely to have access to a car or telecommuting options.

Wall Street Journal: Logistics executives see shipping hub potential in Cuba
Coinciding with President Obama's visit to Cuba last month, officials from 18 freight logistics companies also visited the country and found that Port of Mariel could be an ideal location for cross-docking cargo from megaships to smaller vessels headed for American ports. Many of America's ports aren't equipped to handle these gigantic "post-panamax" ships, and Cuba could play a role in helping to smooth the transition.

Happy reading, and happy weekend!

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