Transportation Improvements and Accountability Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1452 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

SAMPLE EXCERPT:

[. . .] Based on their study of transportation initiatives across the country, including San Francisco's BART system, Buhl et al. found that the error of underestimating costs was significantly much more common and much larger than the error of overestimating costs. "Underestimation of costs at the time of decision to build is the rule rather than the exception for transportation infrastructure projects. Frequent and substantial cost escalation is the result," they say (281).

There have also been some enormous political constraints to the development of effective transportation solutions in the Bay Area because of the numbers of people involved and their close proximity to the Bay Area, many with conflicting interests. Over the years, these forces have stalled, delayed, cancelled, changed or otherwise made more expensive virtually any transportation initiative that extended beyond San Francisco's immediate city limits. As time progressed, the transportation projects that were intended to link cities around the Bay, including ferries, railroads, streetcars, bridges, and highways, made it clear that there was a growing need for regional cooperation; these projects also highlighted the existence of jealousies and fears among regional urban leaders. For instance, Rodriguez reports that during the construction of the Bay Bridge in the 1930s, San Francisco and Oakland leaders proudly boasted about how the giant span would bring a future of regional cooperation. "Yet upon completion," Rodriguez adds, "they could not even agree on which side of the bridge to stage the opening day ceremonies, and so state and local officials had to make speeches, pose for photographs, and cut a steel chain at either end of the span" (11). Such conflicts and lack of cooperation were only exacerbated with the construction of new freeways in the 1950s and BART in the 1960s. The need for regional cooperation became glaringly apparent and California state officials were insistent that the freeways being constructed in the Bay Area should serve regional interests rather than those of a particular city, and urban leaders became increasingly anxious that the freeways would undermine local goals if state engineers were unresponsive to their design concerns (Rodriguez 12). According to this author, "Bay Area residents and officials celebrated BART as a transit system that would finally tie the metropolis together and encourage greater cooperation. But they feared that BART and its regional board would make design decisions that benefited their rivals and hurt local development" (Rodriguez 13). Not surprisingly, this vast network of transportation networks resulted in some degradation to the unique qualities of individual communities, a process that resulted in criticism from residents as well as civic leaders for having a negative impact on community traditions and identities (Rodriguez 13). These fears were not entirely unfounded either; while these transportation projects have represented the foundation for the Bay Area's future economic progress, there have been some significant consequences that were not foreseen. San Francisco became the most expensive city in the U.S. As a result, but "Stopping projects like these is like trying to slow down an oil-tanker" (Ellis 27).

Conclusion

The research showed that San Francisco's Bay Area has been the focus of much attention over the years as transportation experts have attempted to integrate the city's vast networks with those of surrounding communities, a process that has been serious constrained by various political and social issues, as well as the geographical nature of the region itself. The research also showed that whenever transportation projects are designed to take one set of interests into consideration without regard to how these same interests may conflict with those of others similarly situated, controversy will inevitably result and this has certainly been the case in the Bay Area over the years. Despite the constraints and the finger-pointing that have taken place over the years, much progress has been made and San Francisco may now be finally able to take advantage of its investments in highly expensive transportation projects over the years.

Works Cited

Buhl, Soren, Bent Flyvbjerg and Mette Skamris Holm. (2002). "Underestimating Costs in Public Works Projects: Error or Lie?" Journal of the American Planning Association,

68(3):279.

Ellis, John. (2002, January). "View from San Francisco: San Francisco May Be Suffering

Because of the Collapse of the E-Industry, but Its Ambitious Infrastructure Projects Are a Fair Bid to Make It the Most Civilized City on the U.S. Pacific Coast. The Architectural

Review, 211(1259):26.

Rodriguez,… [END OF PREVIEW]

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