Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Political Calculus

In a city not too distant there is a harbor and a downtown. Not too surprising? No.
Over fifty years ago an elevated freeway was constructed dividing the harbor from the downtown, as effectively as a curtain wall might. The life expectancy of such structures is no more than fifty years. This is in earth quake country.

There is some pressure to replace the structure.

There are three possible ways to replace the freeway.
First, build a new viaduct. It will have six lanes rather than four. It will be half again as stout as the present structure to withstand quakes. It will separate the city from its waterfront even more thoroughly. It will last for fifty years. At a projected cost of 2.6 billion dollars.

Second, build a tunnel. This is a billion, or so, more expensive, but lasts twice as long. This reconnects the waterfront to the city and creates a tourist destination -- i.e.: money!

Third, unbuild the viaduct and fix up the ground level streets to make a six lane boulevard. Presumably this has the advantage of creating the tourist draw for less than cost of replacing the viaduct. It's disadvantage is that the traffic may log jam. But that is a 'may', not a 'will.'

So we have a decision.
a.) $2.1b/50 = $42 million per year. No bonus from tourist income.
b.) $3.1b/100 = $31 million per year. Plus tourist money.
c.) $1b?/100 = $10 million per year. Plus tourist money.
The correct answer may be obvious.
The decision is a..

I told you this is political calculus.

See Goldy for the bloody details.

-- ml

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