Boston's Big Dig Party is officially ending at the end of the month
, but the hangover is going to last. I call your attention to this not because I'm thrilled that such a major highway project has experienced such trouble, but in order to demonstrate that there is no appreciated difference
between the large scale capital projects involving roads and highways, and mass transit systems, when it comes to trouble. Both project types incur a dose of headaches, cost overruns, and initially slow appreciation by their intended consumers.
Why point this out? Anti-transit types are constantly crowing about how light rail or other fixed guideway transit projects are havens for bureaucratic mismanagement and waste. The strategy by that seems to be to nail the agenda of transit advocates to the standard of perfection, which of course, is nearly impossible to meet. It's like constantly pointing out that most transit systems don't turn a profit, conveniently forgetting the question of whether or not they make or save money, or are otherwise worth it to the society that utilizes and incorporates them.
The reality is that every project, road or rail, has its own cast of competent and incompetent characters, and its own self-obstructing issues. The validity or rightness of rail should not be judged because some rail projects cost more than anticipated, or because they encounter logistical issues during their construction. Nor should the decision to pursue them be second-guessed. Look at Charlotte where some mistakes were openly ceded
by the rail championing mayor. The anti-rail types were out to exploit such ready acknowledgments but in the end the joke was on them. People resoundly told anti-rail folks to shutup -- light rail, even with construction and cost overrun problems, was still
damn worth it.