16 thoughts on “Trump’s Infrastructure Plan”

  1. “It’s always more fun to build new stuff than to maintain it.”

    I took a class from Genichi Taguchi, and he remarked along these lines. His particular statement was that American engineers are more like scientist than engineers; always creating new things rather than improving the things that already existed. Our American professors scoffed at the statement, but it was an accurate point and somewhat of a compliment. He used as an example digital audio recording. Rather than improve the capability of vinyl systems, we introduced magnetic tape. When tape became a problem, the US invented CDs and DVDs, while Japan continued to perfect magnetic tape.

    I think the same can be said about Japan and US infrastructure. The success of Japan’s high speed train didn’t come from implementing a new system, but rather constantly improving the infrastructure which then allowed for faster trains. In the US, we just tear up the old infrastructure after we allow it to crumble and try something new. Or more to what Taguchi noted; try something like Hyperloop.

    1. What does the Hyperloop “do” that doesn’t make it another version of the California High-speed Train?

      OK, I “get” the part of very high speeds through magnetic suspension and propulsion along with a reduced-pressure tunnel to reduce air drag losses. But isn’t Hyperloop just another iteration of “Monorail”, an over hyped (the excuse the pun) improvement over duo rail (ordinary trains)?

      All of these systems are supposed to have some advantage over ordinary trains in terms of speed or a lower cost for a grade-separated guide way? But whether they really offer higher speed or their guide way is either lower initial cost (in instances where it needs to be elevated or in a tunnel or otherwise pass through built-up areas) or lower maintenance cost was never clear, and all of these systems are lacking a convenient way for a vehicle to change routes. For example the Alweg (Disneyland-type) monorail has a “track switch”, but it is a clumsy affair in comparison to a railway switch track and does Hyperloop even have a way to connect been routes, apart from stopping the train (er, “pod”), having people get out, walking a bit, and getting into a different Hyperloop pod in a different tunnel?

      Or does a pod have ordinary low-speed tires on it that it can operate like a bus to drive between the exit of one Hyperloop and enter a different Hyperloop at a Hyperloop terminus?

      1. I’m curious to see the energy use for Hyperloop versus a 737. It’s already a tube that mostly operates in a low atmospheric environment except for a small area near the start and end of a journey.

        1. Lift to drag ratio of magnetic levitation can be 200:1, far better than any airplane (but worse than a conventional train, which can be around 1000:1.)

          1. Plane’s don’t need heavy duty pumps to pull a vacuum over a large volume. And while airlocks can help reduce the need to continuously pull a vacuum; maintenance will be required to keep the infrastructure operational, even in areas nominally at a lower atmospheric pressure.

            I suppose you can create a large pig that can partition parts of the loop over an area requiring maintenance, such that workers can do what they need to do in a shirt sleeve environment. But I wouldn’t want to have to do hot work in such a tomb.

  2. More toll roads?

    The gasoline tax in support of highways has been the greatest enhancer of personal mobility of the Industrial Age.

    Yeah, yeah, Libertarianism, private roads, free markets, congestion pricing, but the same thing could be said about “smart” electric metering, and does anyone out there who has smart metering like it in any way?

    Has Mr. Trump come down on the side of being anti-automobile? More toll roads means more inconvenience.

      1. But the toll road will not necessarily be a private company, it will be the gummint or a QUANGO (quasi-autonomous governmental authority, cough, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, cough, the Illinois Tollway, cough).

        It will offer all manner of opportunity for controlling your behavior through a variety of pricing schemes. Do you like your smart meter there in California?

      2. You have a sensor in the car, and are automatically billed as you drive through.

        I used to flatly reject this concept. But that rejection is less for what it is, but how a government is likely to implement it. In short, it will likely be introduced while not removing similar taxes like existing tolls or gas tax. But if it were to truly replace other tolls, vehicle taxes, and even vehicle registration fees (other than the sensor fee); I could support the notion. It would be a consumption tax for something that does need more money to keep in service based on use.

    1. Cars get better gas mileage, electric cars are in vogue, and there is a huge push by “planners” to stop people from driving. Gas taxes might not generate enough revenue. How do we get those freeloader electric cars and bicycles to help maintain the roads?

      A toll road is an inconvenience, even with an e-zpass or similar system. In WA, they want to just put a gps in your car and track your every movement. After that they probably want to mail you tickets if the gps says you were speeding. Is there a solution that is convenient and doesn’t lead to a big brother monitoring your every movement?

      1. An obvious alternative to measuring your mileage with GPS is to simply read the odometer every year when you get your registration.

        Insufficient opportunities for control, though.

        1. I was going to say the GPS helps determine usage of any given piece of infrastructure; but there’s a better way to get that information. Already today, some intelligent transportation systems determine traffic flow by reading IMEI data across to sensors. IMEI is essentially a phone’s MAC address. If they read it at one location, and again at another, they can determine the time between readings and distance between sensors to determine speed. The current systems throw out the IMEI data after awhile (supposedly). Anyway, simply counting the number of IMEI passing a sensor will provide usage. If you don’t want to be counted, you can turn off your phone or put it airplane mode; which actually promotes safety while driving.

          And yes, simply reading the odometer, which can be done at inspection time, will provide usage. Farmers/Ranchers might complain, but most already get some level of exemption anyway.

  3. Read an article in the local paper about this. Their complaint was that our state needs over $200 billion but the bill only provides $200 billion, so no state will get much done and we shouldn’t expect any help, especially for public transportation.

    There are a lot of unknowns but all they had to do was the tiniest bit of research to see how the money from the federal government was going to be used in conjunction with money from other sources. There still would be a lot of questions about the actual plan and how effective it would be but the paper decided not to inform the public and to spin like they work for the DNC.

    The CEI post was good but there are still so many unanswered questions.

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