Fix It First: Old Questions About Crashworthiness of Metro Cars – City Desk – Washington City Paper

From Washington City Paper, Old Questions About Crashworthiness of Metro Cars
Following the terrible crash on the Washington Metrorail Red Line (which I have taken many times) some blame game begins:

UPDATE, 6/23, 8:15 A.M.: NTSB’s Debbie Hersman this morning confirms that the the striking train was a 1000-series car and that the struck train was a mix of 3000- and 5000-series. She notes that the NTSB has “long been on record” about the crashworthiness of the 1000 series. “We recommended to WMATA to either retrofit those cars or phase them out of service,” she says. “Those concerns were not addressed.”

Perhaps we need to apply the environmental movement’s Fix It First logic to public transport systems as well as roads and bridges.
We let our politicians get away with ribbon cuttings while core infrastructure fails.

Clear Shuts Down

Via TechDirt, from Things with Wings Clear Shuts Down Registered Traveler Lanes

“The pilot program was rolled out with great fanfare July 18, 2005, in Orlando. Travelers initially paid $99 a year for a card that was supposed to target those who posed a minimum security risk, and give them a special line that would process them through airport security more quickly.”

These were the equivalent of HOT lanes for airport security. They have failed in the marketplace, people will only pay so much for queue jumping.

Lowry Avenue Bridge comes down with a bang

From Pioneer Press: Lowry Avenue Bridge comes down with a bang (look at the video, though this requires MS Silverlight (ugh))
It can’t be good for the fish.
Previously discussed at Another Minnesota bridge falls silent

ITrEC: International Transport Economics Conference

I am pleased to say that the International Transport Economics Conference (ITrEC) came off last week (June 15, 16) without a hitch. We had 97 registered participants, About 70 presentations, lots of good conversation and stimulating ideas.
I want to especially acknowledge Herb Mohring, who launched transport economics at the University of Minnesota and made a number of important contributions to both road pricing and transit analysis (the Mohring Effect). The session in his honor was chaired by Lee Munnich, and featured presentations by Robin Lindsey, Erik Verhoef, and David Lewis, the first two describing and extending his contribution on full cost recovery of tolls.
Thanks go to several anonymous paper reviewers (you know who you are), sponsors: Center for Transportation Studies,
State and Local Policy Program at the Humphrey Institute (and especially Lee Munnich)
Taylor and Francis/Routledge, and Edward Elgar; and
Sara van Essendelft, Catherine Flannery, Kristi Miller, and Stephanie Malinoff for getting everything together and Jason Junge and Carlos Carrion for helping keep everything running, the scientific committee, and the local organizing committee.
I anticipate a location for the next ITrEC will be announced soon, and am relieved it will not be Minneapolis.

Transportation Education Conference

With my colleague Chen-fu Liao, I am attending the Transportation Education Conference at Portland State University June 22-24, 2009. Our presentation, Simulating Transportation for Realistic Engineering Education and Training (STREET), is now online. It describes the NSF-funded STREET project.
Contact me if you are a transportation educator interested in participating.

County presents scenarios for Franklin/East River Parkway remake | Bridgeland News

From the Bridgeland News: County presents scenarios for Franklin/East River Parkway remake
From the article:

“Two suggestions bordered on the Swiftian: One was a modest proposal to remove all traffic control from the existing intersection. “When those signals are out, that intersection functions fairly well,” stated one man.”

I was “one man”.
The official alternatives are available here:
Project website
My letter (sent to the team and local public officials) clarifying what I am thinking about, which I sent to the project team is below:

Jim,
Thank you for hosting the public hearing on the Franklin Ave/27th Street/East River Road intersection. I mentioned the meeting you should consider a shared-space concept (including perhaps a simple roundabout, but without all of the complex signage, separation, etc.) , the ideas I have in mind are illustrated here:
http://www.shared-space.org/
The advantage is that it could cost much less, and could be easily tested (put some covers on the signals, take down the signs, and put up some warning signs telling people upstream they are approaching a new environment, without requiring full reconstruction.
A video showing some of the ideas is here:

AND

(especially at 5:00 into the second video)
I recognize the idea may appear radical to traditional engineering practice, but I think it is worth giving full consideration to, especially on a site like this with no obvious inexpensive solution, with a mix of commuter and parkway traffic, bicycles, and pedestrians, a desire to minimize land taking, and a desire to calm traffic.
Please let me know if you have any questions.
— David

Finally, in addition to having a personal interest in the intersection since I use it daily, I also supervised a Master’s Degree paper: Evaluation of a Roundabout at a Five-Way Intersection: An Alternatives Analysis Using Microsimulation on the intersection by Reuben Collins, which recommended a roundabout.
Unfortunately, judging by their response to comments, the study team clearly has not yet grokked the possibilities of alternatives to conventional (i.e. US standards-based) design, and intends to overbuild and oversign the location.

I hate Missouri Nazis

Forwarded by mom from NY Times In Missouri, a Free Speech Fight Over a Highway Adoption

“When a neo-Nazi group called the National Socialist Movement volunteered last year to clean a Missouri highway, and get official recognition for it in the form of an Adopt-a-Highway sign, state officials felt powerless to refuse. So they took a rather clever tack.

Officials are renaming the stretch of highway near Springfield that the organization cleans after Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, who fled Nazi Germany and became a prominent Jewish theologian and civil rights advocate in the United States.”

props to the Missouri legislature.

Cash for Clunkers Goes Thud

By Conor Clarke (The Atlantic) Cash for Clunkers Goes Thud … a critique of the scrappage scheme, and why it is not as bad as it might be, but still not good.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee

Details on the Oberstar et al. Transportation Bill