Bang For Your Buck

In Los Angeles, the DOT will spend approximately $1 billion to add a traffic lane and improve supporting infrastructure along a 10 mile section of the 405 freeway. That $100 million per mile, or for those of you who like to think in smaller increments…nearly $1,600 per inch.

Los Angeles’ 1996 (never implemented) bike plan would have cost roughly $60 million and built 210 miles of Class I & II Bike Paths. That’s about what it will cost to build 0.6 of a mile of the 405 project. Which do you think would have done more to “reduce existing and forecasted traffic congestion” or “improve both existing and future mobility and enhance safety throughout the corridor”, the stated goals of the project?

While you’re at it, which do you think would produce more jobs per $ spent? A capital and material intensive project like freeway construction or a labor intensive, material light project like repainting road lines?

More on the efficient use of capital to follow…

update:
A recent report by the American Public Transportation Association concludes that investing in transit creates 31% more jobs per dollar spent than investment in new roads and bridges. Report here.

update 2:
A new report by the Politcal Economy Research Institute finds that spending on bicycle and pedestrian improvements creates up to twice as many jobs per dollar spent as spending on automobile road improvements. Report here (via Streetsblog).

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