Shipping Container Architecture

Via Boing-boing: Making Light: Shipping container architecture. A really nice post about the use of excess shipping containers for housing and other purposes. With the disproportionately one-way flow of containerized commodities from Asia to the US, there are a surplus of containers landing on US shores (most are of course shipped back), the post details a number of articles about their reuse.

Car sharing and congestion pricing with compensation

Nice article from the Financial Times on carsharing: You take the hire road
“Streetcar fosters this sense of community by encouraging a sense of responsibility towards other club users. You are asked not to leave the car with the petrol tank less than a quarter full; if the car gets dirty, you are invited to earn an hour’s free rental by taking it to the car wash and getting it cleaned at Streetcar’s expense; and if you return the car late, keeping a neighbour waiting, you are fined £25 – of which £20 goes to your aggrieved fellow member.”
This is exactly the same logic behind the Delayer Pays Principle: Examining Congestion Pricing with Compensation (1.2 MB) (International Journal of Transport Economics 31:3 295-311) Peter Rafferty and I have posited for congestion pricing, those who cause delay pay those who they delayed.

Top 100 Academic Blogs Every Professional Investor Should Read

The Transportationist makes Top 100 Academic Blogs Every Professional Investor Should Read .
I haven’t given much in the way of stock tips on the blog, but hey, if someone can profit from reading this, more power to them.

Oberstar Forum: Cost of Frugality

The Oberstar Forum on Transportation Policy and Technology: The Condition of Our Nation’s Transportation Infrastructure: Heading Toward a Crisis? was held this past Sunday and Monday. The CTS website advertises the public Monday session, but there was a double-secret, super private, unadvertised, invitation only session attended by the elites in the transportation community (i.e. I was invited). These private sessions are more interesting in that there is less speech-making and more discussion, though one can hardly say there was no speech making. In fact, I gave a talk on the Cost of Frugality, which I have posted.

The New I-35W Bridge

MnDOT unveiled plans for the new I-35W replacement bridge day before yesterday… Interstate 35W Bridge in Minneapolis, MN, The main distinction in alternatives seems to be which way the piers are oriented. I think the best you can say about it is that it is unimaginative, but probably better looking than what went before. One never can truly visualize the bridge until it is complete, but I am not optimistic. There are opportunities to do interesting things in the space along the water under the bridge, Sydney does some great things under highway bridges there. It is not clear if those opportunities will be taken, but that is something that can be done later.
Clearly MnDOT missed the boat on the opportunity to use airrights over the bridge for some positive good (in addition to avoiding snow removal and de-icing costs) which is too bad, but not surprising.
Nevertheless, I am amazed that if Aesthetics/Visual Quality amounted to 20% of points available for technical evaluation, that something so mediocre will be built though.

MnDOT says releasing bridge inspection records could be a threat to national security

From the Pioneer Press: MnDOT says releasing bridge inspection records could be a threat to national security.
Before you dismiss such threats as implausible, note that Osama Bin Laden was trained as a civil engineer at King Abdul Aziz University of Jedda and Yasser Arafat was trained as a civil engineer at Cairo University. Since civil engineering would seem to disproportionately lead to terrorism [perhaps too much statics?], we should be very careful who we give our bridge plans to, they might actually be able to read them (as opposed to say, going to the bridge and looking for cracks themselves, or just getting more exposives).

Clever Plants ‘Chat’ Over Their Own Network

Via Boing-Boing, from Science Daily:Clever Plants ‘Chat’ Over Their Own Network. This is just cool, … everytime you think the world is complicated, it just gets more so.

Counting you in your car

From the Washington Post: Infrared Scans May Regulate HOT Lanes. The latest technology used to detect cheaters in HOV/HOT lanes.
(1) Hopefully they won’t throw out this data after its collected (see previous post on LA), it does have valuable planning uses in predicting mode utilization.
(2) Any semblance of privacy you thought you had is gone, hopefully we can watch the watchers just as easily as they watch us. David Brin’s Transparent Society is interesting in this regard.
(3) The amount of effort we go to in order to enforce minor rules is amazing. In the absence of congestion on the HOV lane, (and the presence of congestion in the general purpose lanes) it is actually efficient for there to be some small amount of cheating: it takes a car out of the congested lanes, puts it in the uncongested lanes (without congesting them) and produces a net benefit to society. Too much clearly would congest the HOV/HOT lanes. It reminds one of the expression “A Puritan is someone who is deathly afraid that someone somewhere is having fun.” The point isn’t that it is costing society to have some cheating, the point is that “free riding” is cheating and “unfair” whatever that means.

Can you say megaproject …

As with many large infrastructure projects, the estimated cost of the I-35W replacement bridge rises and rises. How come public officials never over-estimate initial costs? (Perhaps a question for my Transport Policy class).
Articles from the Strib and PiPress:
Sticker shock: Bridge tab soars by $143 million
The cost of rebuilding the collapsed I-35W span is climbing