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Elon Musk Hates 405 Freeway Traffic, Pays Money To Speed Construction

samzenpus posted about a year ago | from the hurry-up dept.

The Almighty Buck 431

S810 writes "Elon Musk, one of the main people behind PayPal, Space Exploration Technologies and Tesla Motors, has paid $50,000 to help Los Angeles speed up construction of the 405 Freeway, making it better and says that he will pay more if needed. From the article: 'Musk said he is open to pay the cost of adding workers to the widening project "as a contribution to the city and my own happiness. If it can actually make a difference, I would gladly contribute funds and ideas. I've super had it." — Musk quips that it's easier getting rockets into orbit than navigating his commute between home in Bel-Air and his Space Exploration Technologies factory in Hawthorne.' For those who aren't familiar with this issue, the 405 Freeway runs from the northern end of the San Fernando Valley all the way down to El Toro and runs by LAX. Residents are getting frustrated that this widening project is over budget and well over the anticipated time frame that it was supposed to completed by."

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431 comments

I just received an e-mail from PayPal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551235)

to verify the e-mail address I added to my account. Problem is, I haven't added any e-mail addresses to my account???

May I contribute $5 ? (4, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about a year ago | (#43551353)

Since Elon Musk is so wealthy and he's only paying $50,000, may I contribute my $5 ?

The $5 from me to me is worth much more (by ratio of my wealth) than the $50,000 to Mr. Musk, btw

Re:May I contribute $5 ? (2)

edumacator (910819) | about a year ago | (#43551441)

This really isn't a bad idea. You could surely speed up construction on the most heavily trafficked roads.

Re:May I contribute $5 ? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551549)

$50,000 will make almost no difference to the completion date. This is just a rich asshole using an insignificant amount of their immorally gotten wealth to make a statement.

Re:May I contribute $5 ? (4, Insightful)

sanman2 (928866) | about a year ago | (#43551609)

Immorally gotten wealth? You mean anyone who earns more money than you has automatically done it immorally?

Re:May I contribute $5 ? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551701)

You don't earn that kind of wealth by working hard. You earn it by withholding it from the people who do the work. In the past even the rich would have blushed at the idea of being paid that much more than the people doing the actual work.

Re:May I contribute $5 ? (2)

gewalker (57809) | about a year ago | (#43551649)

I don't know, he claimed to be cash broke [nytimes.com] during a divorce 3 years ago. Maybe coughing up $50K is harder than you would think.

If he has the money and is willing to spend it... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551245)

If he has the money and is willing to spend it then why not move closer to his job site and entirely avoid the freeway?

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (5, Informative)

SJHillman (1966756) | about a year ago | (#43551317)

I like living in the country, I'm not going to move into the inner city where my job is just because the commute sucks. However, if I can contribute a fairly small portion of my money to make my commute a bit easier, I will. A good place for a job can be a really shitty place for a home.

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551715)

While I prefer the country myself (and just recently took a job in the country to get out of the city), working in the city and living in the country is irrational by almost any objective criteria. Here are some examples (all times are for the round trip):

  • A 45 minute commute makes you 40% more likely to get a divorce.
  • A 90 minute commute kills your Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, even when you eventually do get home.
  • Every 10 minutes commuting decreases your number of social connections by 10%
  • Commuters have more neck & back problems (plus obesity), and for every minute they spend commuting there's "a 0.0257 minute exercise time reduction, a 0.0387 minute food preparation time reduction, and a 0.2205 minute sleep time reduction". BTW, that study controlled for time spent outside of the home by comparing people who worked 10 hours and commuted 2 hours with those who just worked 12 hours.
  • It takes a 40% higher salary to justify an extra hour of commuting. (Measured by some economists based on well-being.)

Here [slate.com] is the article I pulled those stats from, it links to more definitive sources. Basically, it's absolutely not worth it to live further away from your job to have a bigger house. That said, raising a family might be better in the country, unless you're subjecting your kids to a long commute as well.

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (5, Informative)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | about a year ago | (#43551403)

Kind of true.The section of the 405 Elon Musk drives every day is the most congested of all, though. Have a look at traffic information on Google Maps. Right now (5:05pm local time), more than half of the distance between Hawthorne and Bel Air is red or black. The estimated time for that drive is 27 min, but 55 in the current traffic. And it is the same every day of the week.

I still find the money would be better invested in expanding the rail/subway network. How many lanes can you add to a freeway before it becomes ridiculously dangerous? There are already 17 lanes on some sections of the I-5 over here...

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551423)

"I still find the money would be better invested in expanding the rail/subway network. How many lanes can you add to a freeway before it becomes ridiculously dangerous? There are already 17 lanes on some sections of the I-5 over here..."

But...but...but...SOCIALISM!!!!!!

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551499)

Can't he afford a helicopter? And the cost of getting permission to fly it from his Bel Air property. He is a zililonaire isn't he?

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about a year ago | (#43551627)

If I were Musk, I'd just ride in a limo and treat the backseat as my mobile office for the variable amount of time spent in traffic. I'm sure the guy spends most of his time in email or on the phone anyway. He's got the money to do all that and full high-def video-conferencing from his car if he wanted to.

Sure, that doesn't help anyone else. But this article is about his personal frustration and what he's done in response.

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551675)

Or, if he likes driving his Model S, he could hire a limo driver and have him seat in the passenger seat, so that he can use the HOV lane ! :-)

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (2)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#43551717)

If I were musk, I would have my personal helicopter.

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551741)

maybe shifting your job hours to 7 to 3 might make that less of an issue to you.

And yes, I am familiar with the area - I used to to have to go to work back and forth from Westlake Village to El Segundo and back.

Re:If he has the money and is willing to spend it. (1)

lloydchristmas759 (1105487) | about a year ago | (#43551789)

I live and work in south Orange County, so I don't take the 405 every day, thanks God.

Shifting job hours can indeed be beneficial, but most employers won't allow it (this does not apply to Elon, though).

BTW, Westlake Village to El Segundo must have been a horrible drive to do every day. Happy for you that you don't do it anymore, really.

$50k enough? (3, Interesting)

jimmyhat3939 (931746) | about a year ago | (#43551249)

Does $50k remotely make any dent there? Aren't these projects tens of millions of dollars?

Re:$50k enough? (3, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43551273)

Does $50k remotely make any dent there? Aren't these projects tens of millions of dollars?

Probably pays the salary of 1 worker, without benefits, no overtime. A junior one at that.

Re:$50k enough? (5, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43551293)

This project was budgeted at $1 billion dollars, and is currently projected to cost $1.1 billion. So no, $50k is not significant. Also, he didn't even spend the $50k on construction: he paid it to a lobbying group, Angelinos Against Gridlock, whose goal is to speed construction. The group actually looks like one worth supporting (they have a vision that includes both roads and rail improvements and it seems reasonably thought out), so that $50k might be well spent. But it's spent on an advocacy organization, not on construction.

Re:$50k enough? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43551341)

He sent it to have then find a faster way to do the expansion, and they could not. You know why? becasue the people who design this type of work, and mange it are really good.

Re:$50k enough? (0)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#43551391)

becasue the people who design this type of work, and mange it are really good.

Really good at siphoning public funds, that is. Who knows? They might be good at building roads too. But we'll never know from the I-405 construction project.

Re:$50k enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551453)

I'm not sure if you live in the Valley or West Side, but I can assure you, the project has been a boondoggle. When you close lanes for months and months so you can (slowly) build an artificial rock-face facade on retaining walls, you can't call it well managed. When there's no work happening for weeks on end, you can't call it well managed. When they periodically shut down the freeway (better known as "carmageddon") to remove parts of the old bridge they failed to do some really really logical things like reassigning CALTRANS teams to fix pot holes and other issues.... well you get my point.

You get periodic news bits like this: http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/02/overbudget_405_widening_wont_finish_until_at_least_2014.php

If you scroll to the comments you'll notice the anger at the notion that some portions are "complete" when they are far from it. The only part of the project thats "complete" is the 10 interchange improvements, but even then they have had temporary concrete barriers in place of actual retaining walls for months. In one part of the 10E->405N interchange you can see the street below instead of where part of the lanes should flow together.

The worst part of this, when it's all said and done they will have spent a decade to add one lane, some new on/off ramps, and a facade on the pass' retaining walls.... and we'll already need to start a new project to widen it again

Re:$50k enough? (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551527)

becasue the people who design this type of work, and mange it are really good.

My head just exploded.

Re:$50k enough? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551325)

I believe the average cost per mile for a highway is anywhere between $2M - $6M.

So yeah, $50k is nothing.

Good for him however.

Re:$50k enough? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551335)

Yes. The sad part is that not enough people ever asks WHY they cost tens of millions of dollars. Even you, in your own way - seem to have been programmed to just 'accept' the fact that simple things cost millions of $'s, when it's public money being 'spent'.

Re:$50k enough? (4, Insightful)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#43551643)

You seem to have no idea the scale of work the goes into turning virgin terrain into a proper road. It involves hundreds of men working hard labor, dozens of machines that cost $10M each (or about $15K a month, if you want to rent) and are backordered for two years and burn 100 gallons of diesel a day, and hauling thousands of tons of rocks across large distances to poor on the ground. Then you take the amount of time to do all that and quadrupal it if you actually want to drive on it faster than 35MPH and not have your transmission fall out. None of that pays attention to the cost of surveying the land and planning out what angle is needed on the banks, determining just how much you can safely slope the road so both compact cars and big trucks can safely drive on it, to securing right-of-way from landowners,....

But yeah, it's public money, so we can ignore all that and complain that they should work for free so no tax dollars are wasted while we still get roads that you don't need a horse to traverse.

Re:$50k enough? (2)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year ago | (#43551725)

Yes. The sad part is that not enough people ever asks WHY they cost tens of millions of dollars. Even you, in your own way - seem to have been programmed to just 'accept' the fact that simple things cost millions of $'s, when it's public money being 'spent'.

Do you know? Are you qualified to estimate the budget on such a project from your long history of public works and highway repair management experience? Have you bothered to Google search for some comparison information, taking into account size, scope, terrain and road state? Modern practice?

Or are you yet another person who'll bitch about waste without actually knowing what it is?

Idiot doesn't understand (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about a year ago | (#43551255)

If you want to throw money at the problem of highway construction, you offer a large payout contingent on how quickly it gets done while still within project specifications.

The workers get paid by the hour and so do the contractor managers most of the time. So to give them money with the promise of "more if needed" will result in pleas of "hey! we need more!!!"

These people seriously don't understand how it works when highways are constructed with public money -- the recipients never want the money to run out.

Re:Idiot doesn't understand (5, Informative)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43551321)

If you want to throw money at the problem of highway construction, you offer a large payout contingent on how quickly it gets done while still within project specifications.

The workers get paid by the hour and so do the contractor managers most of the time. So to give them money with the promise of "more if needed" will result in pleas of "hey! we need more!!!"

These people seriously don't understand how it works when highways are constructed with public money -- the recipients never want the money to run out.

You know nothing about these construction contracts, which are handled by private firms. There are incentives to get the work done fast. But there are somethings you just can't rush, like having that sandy soil properly settled so new roadbed doesn't continue to settle and end up with cracks and holes. Then there's the matter of having the equipment necessary at various stages there on time, much of it coming from other worksites. There's hundreds of miles of freeways alone in the LA area. I see the same thing where I live. It looks simple enough, until you are in charge of the logistics and find how much more expensive it can be to try rushing things. Maybe if Musk threw several million dollars at the contractors, so they had more equipment they could get some things done faster. Sometimes private industry isn't faster than a good ol' bloated public department with lots of taxpayer dollar funded extra equipment available.

Re:Idiot doesn't understand (-1, Troll)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#43551733)

You both don't know jack about road construction. It is a way to laundry money and rob blind the taxpayers. As the construction workers, here only one works and the see it working. They take turns.

Re:Idiot doesn't understand (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year ago | (#43551737)

On the other hand, funding a lobby group (which seems to be what he did?) to get the project prioritized is probably one of the best uses of his funds, given how politics in the US currently works.

Logistics are not the publics problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551769)

You suggest that logistics are complicated and causing delays. As a public, that's not our problem, that's the contractors. If the contractor is delayed because they are using a loader or paver across town for a 2 month project, that's not the public's problem. We are paying for THIS stretch of the freeway. You bid and you agreed to do it within the same time window. The contractor is on hook to have a paver on the site as needed, and not delay it because it's not convenient.

Large construction companies that bid on these types of projects need to be held to the dates even more. "Logistics" excuses like yours are just not acceptable. Buy the equipment if you need it, deliver on time. Or for every day you pay a huge fine. Make sure the fines are more than the cost of the actual work and firms will start to deliver on time, and most likely, ahead of time.

SD Freeway isn't the problem (5, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about a year ago | (#43551263)

it's all the cars on it.

if they built the sort of light rail which the region desperately needs it could cut down on the traffic hugely.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (3, Insightful)

MrEricSir (398214) | about a year ago | (#43551299)

Do you really think a guy who runs a car company would want to see public transit improved?

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about a year ago | (#43551379)

Its the only thing which will make life easier for drivers. Widening this road will just encourage more people to drive, increasing congestion everywhere.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551461)

You'd like Masdar City.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (4, Funny)

k6mfw (1182893) | about a year ago | (#43551603)

Imagine a super highway, six lanes wide, will never again be a traffic jam, and it will be beautiful!

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551787)

Tesla could become a bus company?

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551327)

YES. Light rail, all over the place. You need to make taking public transit SUPERIOR to cars. This means bus lanes, light rail, subways, etc. But LA has ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE to do this, because we're a bunch of rich slobs who'd rather have the homeless live, stranded, in Westwood than let them travel around the city.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551625)

The homeless can travel around the city on their two, no-one locks them in. If they want to go faster, well, it's not free.

Re: SD Freeway isn't the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551655)

You guys just need to adopt a man. Your kids will love them. But I know that whole Jesus thing doesn't go over well with you guys.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (2, Informative)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#43551401)

Right. Except that LA's broke. The bills are paid from giving out chicken shit parking and traffic tickets.

Re:SD Freeway isn't the problem (5, Informative)

sconeu (64226) | about a year ago | (#43551681)

There's a reason nobody uses mass transit in LA. All mass transit in LA is based on a faulty assumption -- that everyone wants to go downtown.

There's no real north/south transit: To get from the Valley to the Westside, you have to go downtown and then back to the Westside.

pays money to "study" speeding construction (4, Informative)

Trepidity (597) | about a year ago | (#43551265)

He didn't pay money to speed construction. He spent $50,000 on a consulting organization that would look into how to speed up construction. They did not find a way to do so. But hey, he's learning how these things work: spending $50k to "study" something with no results is exactly how many real projects happen too. ;-)

A better question might be why L.A. is spending $1.1 billion on widening a freeway, instead of improving its damn transit. Adding another lane is going to be a stop-gap solution at best, and it'll be congested to the hilt within another few years. Is the goal to have 30-lane freeways by 2030 or something?

technically (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43551267)

405 means N/S off shoot to the 5 that reconnect.

That why there is more then one 405.

and this make it hard for me to feel sad:
"is commute between home in Bel-Air and his Space Exploration Technologies factory in Hawthorne."
What a tragic life he has.
  20 miles through some of the densest population. You can blame the city planners who abandoned the much more logical freeway expansion in the 70's.

https://maps.google.com/maps?saddr=Hawthorne,+Los+Angeles,+California&daddr=Bel+Air,+Los+Angeles,+CA&hl=en&sll=34.009839,-118.406011&sspn=0.380785,0.437393&geocode=FfOFBQIdQRXy-CnxLsxaK7TCgDEBszjMHXHBYg%3BFe5YCAIdk3zw-Cn78k5sGb3CgDFY1NTXKyVR5A&t=h&mra=pd&z=11 [google.com]

I found a solution (1)

guantamanera (751262) | about a year ago | (#43551351)

Instead of taking the 405, he should continue south until he reaches Palisades park. And he should be pulling a Jetski or a motorized kayak. Jump into the ocean, and come out at Dockweiler beach state park. Have another car waiting for him there, and then take Imperial hwy which converts into 105.

Re:technically (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551815)

405 means N/S off shoot to the 5 that reconnect.

That [sic] why there is more then one 405.

There are three: the San Diego in Los Angeles, the I-405 or Stadium Freeway in Portland, and the I-405 in Seattle.

And I don't agree that 405 means any of North/South, offshoot of a I-5, or reconnects. It's merely a coincidence that all three I-405s happen to do that.

E.g. there are several I-495s. One is the semi beltway around Boston, another is the full beltway around D.C., the ones in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware run East/West, and the one in New York is not an offshoot of I-95 at all, never mind reconnecting.

Dear Elon (4, Insightful)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43551283)

You aren't in traffic, you are traffic.

Re: Dear Elon (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551313)

Ha ha! Yes! Public funds that the workers will milk for years to come. Who blames them...the public cash cow. Keep the milk flowing!

I hope your commute doubles!

Weird choice (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551309)

Wouldn't a helicopter be faster, AND cheaper? Unless this is mostly philanthropy, in which case, is making more roads REALLY the answer? Wouldn't a better idea be something to do with carpooling or new construction of commercial, residential and industrial properties to reduce population density in areas served by the 405, while NOT contributing to increased air-pollution and congestion? Even if you widen the freeway, there are still only a finite number of places for that traffic to go when it has to exit the freeway, so widening it will only do so much unless you are also prepared to widen the thoroughfares leading away from the exits all along the stretch.

If it helps great, but it just seems like a Band-Aid on a sucking chest-wound.

Kill the Hippy Operated Vehicle lanes (-1, Flamebait)

sethstorm (512897) | about a year ago | (#43551323)

No need to widen as far and would put a greater amount on the road. Of course, that would run counter to the wishes of environmentalists(of the Al Gore cloth) who would harp about the bad old days of LA. Those faux-environmentalists would rather us have driving hybrid Trabants while they get to drive their Zils however, whenever.

(Then again, speaking out against environmentalism is bound to attract modbombing. How about replying instead of trying to knock off my karma?)

Re:Kill the Hippy Operated Vehicle lanes (1)

geekoid (135745) | about a year ago | (#43551359)

How about you actually making a point without logical fallacy and using specific examples?

private non union workers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551333)

He should offer to get a private, non union team to finish a section of the highway. Let's see if the union or the non union team would win. At the very least, the union team would feel like they need the beat the non union team and get the job done faster than usual.

Commuting is the problem (5, Insightful)

TubeReceiver (610037) | about a year ago | (#43551345)

He lives in BelAir and commutes to Hawthorne ?? Give me a break... that was ridiculous 30 years ago and still is. One word, listen closely... MOVE. Everyone seems to think it's normal to drive these ridiculous long commutes and it's actually a symptom of a screwed up society in love with their crappy cars. Try living closer to work and walk there, or ride your golf cart or something.

Re:Commuting is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551425)

I drive 2 blocks to work every day. It is a condition of my employment that I maintain a working legally operatable vehicle. Sometimes I may need to drive 60 miles in a day. Most of the time my truck sits in the parking lot getting banged up by idiots with more money than sense. But I have to have it to have it there to keep my job.

Re:Commuting is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551491)

You're the kind of guy who took Sam Kinison's Ethiopia rant as an actual practical approach to world hunger.

Re:Commuting is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551587)

Sam had a point. Sand sucks as farmland.

Re:Commuting is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551665)

No, Sam had a joke. And it was funny as hell, but it wasn't a solution. Neither is the OP's comment. Complex problems do not have simple solutions.

Re:Commuting is the problem (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#43551503)

+1. But then Bel Air to Hawthorne is not that bad. Shouldn't be more than 30 minutes. And there's not many nice places to live around Hawthorne.

Re:Commuting is the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551601)

Move to Hawthorne? A rich white guy would stick out like a sore thumb. It's ghetto as hell around there where SpaceX is. But seriously, he should move to Palos Verdes or Manhattan Beach (like a normal rich guy) if he wants to commute to SpaceX and skip the 405 traffic.

405 (1, Interesting)

ShakaUVM (157947) | about a year ago | (#43551377)

"The 405 Freeway runs from the northern end of the San Fernando Valley all the way down to El Torro and runs by LAX."

And is a complete and total piece of shit. Unlike Orange County, which has been upgrading its road network for the last 40 years, LA in the 1970s diverted money away from roads and into mass transit systems (subway, light rail, bus). The net result is the completely clogged arteries of the city, which its vaunted bus network needs dedicated lanes to even barely function in.

Everyone knows when they reach the boundary between OC and LA. Going one way, it opens up from 25MPH to 85MPH. Coming the other way, it slams down from 85MPH to 25MPH.

Also, it's spelled El Toro.

Does he car pool? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551389)

Admittedly, I didn't read the article.

Move (2)

hondo77 (324058) | about a year ago | (#43551431)

If he doesn't like his commute so much, maybe he should move closer to "work"? Oh, he wants to live in a densely populated, highly desirable area which means that he knew the commute to Hawthorne was going to suck? Sounds like someone who moves near an airport and complains about the noise.

Re:Move (1)

Dieppe (668614) | about a year ago | (#43551497)

Speaking as someone living in Hawthorne, it's really not so bad here in some neighborhoods. He could live in Playa del Rey and have a view of the ocean, or in a condo in Marina del Rey, and have an uninterrupted view of everything, including ocean. Honestly though, he should just learn how to fly a helicopter. SpaceX is located at an airport afterall. D

Get some balls. (1)

csumpi (2258986) | about a year ago | (#43551433)

And ride a bike. In LA you can split lanes, so you can get anywhere pretty fast while looking cool. It (almost) never rains and a nice crotch rocket is probably even more environmentally friendly than his current ride.

Re:Get some balls. (1)

treeves (963993) | about a year ago | (#43551563)

Someone should verify : gas motorcycle vs electric car. I wouldn't be surprised if the gas bike does better than the electric car, but it bears checking. And an electric motorcycle...not enough space for batteries?

Hamburger Analogy (2, Interesting)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#43551489)

Widening the 405 is an expensive and only temporary band-aid to the problem of traffic congestion. The hamburger analogy [streetsblog.net] explains why:

Let's give everyone free McDonald's hamburgers. Let's put 10,000 hamburgers a day on a table in front of the Capitol (or wherever).

What would happen? People would take and eat the hamburgers, and once word got out, all 10,000 hamburgers would be taken very quickly every day. We may thus infer that because people need food and they really seemed to like those burgers, McDonald's hamburgers are an important public good.

A city planner might notice a problem: those 10,000 hamburgers just aren't enough. They get taken very early in the morning, so not everybody has a chance to get a hamburger. The obvious solution--because burgers are a highly-valued public good--is to provide more free burgers. So the city planner starts to provide 20,000 hamburgers a day.

You can see where this is going. People start going out of their way to get the free hamburgers, and planning their day around that trip. The city has to keep providing more and more free burgers--eventually millions a day--to keep satisfying the demand for free hamburgers.

Free hamburgers are like unpriced freeway lanes. Eventually they will all get taken up. Any city planner (and Elon Musk) should know that a shortage happens when the price of an item is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand [wikipedia.org]. It's much, much easier and cheaper to fix the problem of traffic congestion once and for all with a variable price set at the market equilibrium rate than by trying to build your way out of traffic congestion. Even Randal O'Toole agrees [youtube.com].

Re:Hamburger Analogy (1, Funny)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43551621)

Next those idiots that don't understand economics are going to give people free air to breathe. Obviously with a "free" resource like that everyone is just going to keep on breathing and breathing until there's no more air left.

Re:Hamburger Analogy (3, Insightful)

Ichijo (607641) | about a year ago | (#43551651)

Air is a public good [wikipedia.org] because it is "both non-excludable and non-rivalrous in that individuals cannot be effectively excluded from use and where use by one individual does not reduce availability to others." Freeways are not public goods because a vehicle taking up space on the road reduces availability of the road to others.

Re:Hamburger Analogy (-1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43551719)

I see that you understand the concept of a "definition". Excellent. In rhetoric the next step is to take the term so defined and to use it as part of a logical argument. For example you could write "Because roads are not a public good ...". Try it.

Re:Hamburger Analogy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551807)

He did. Read the last sentence.

Re:Hamburger Analogy (1)

OhANameWhatName (2688401) | about a year ago | (#43551639)

There's one problem with your analogy, people want to eat hamburgers. People don't want to drive to work.

Privatising the roads with costs being handed on to drivers isn't a solution. Inner city housing is more expensive than housing out of the city, so the people who can't afford to pay for the use of the roads are the ones who get forced to pay for the use of the roads. The real problem is that people like Elon Musk stupidly put their offices in locations which require staff to live in the inner city or travel to the inner city. He sticks his office in a location then complains that he has to commute to it?? Most of us don't have the luxury of deciding where our office will be but this guy actually decided that he wanted to commute on this route to his office and is now complaining to the government about his decision.

It's true that a public roads contractor will swallow whatever money you give them. The solution is public private tendering. The government tenders a job at a fixed price for a set outcome, then contracts the job out to the winner. If they don't come up with results, they're in breach of contract. Putting a price on the cost of travelling on a road simply disguises the problem of congestion.

The long term solution is to have more tele-commuters and greater spatial distribution of workplaces. Increases in tele-commuting are going to happen naturally over time as businesses clue into the cost savings of reduced office space, electricity, air conditioning and other infrastructure. Improvements in communications infrastructure will also allow for a more seamless home-work environment experience. Along with that, you can pay tele-commuters less to work because the vast majority of people would prefer to work from home rather than travel to an office. Combining this with adequate public transport is more than enough to not require anywhere near the breadth of roads that are currently required. "People should pay to use roads!" doesn't solve a damned thing. It's a right wing call for more extreme private control.

Try creating a private road system, and wait to see what happens. Companies will only upgrade the roads when people stop using them, because this is the only motivation a corporation has, to keep making money. Roads absolutely must remain a public trust. Anything else is sticking your head in a bucket of sand.

Japan Hamburger fail (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551713)

There isn't an infinite demand for roads, there's a finite number of people trying to get to a finite number of places and if the roads are sufficient then you don't have congestion. Driving is not a free activity, it costs money even if the road doesn't.

Japan is an example of that, they've gone road building crazy trying to make growth and where they've done that, the roads are empty. Just not enough traffic.

Variable pricing does not fix capacity, it rewards incompetence. If the authority is too incompetent to deliver the road service, it earns the most money from congestion charges. Thus the incentive is to be incompetent and fail to deliver proper road infrastructure.

Re:Japan Hamburger fail (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about a year ago | (#43551817)

There isn't an infinite demand for roads, there's a finite number of people trying to get to a finite number of places and if the roads are sufficient then you don't have congestion. Driving is not a free activity, it costs money even if the road doesn't.

Japan is an example of that, they've gone road building crazy trying to make growth and where they've done that, the roads are empty. Just not enough traffic.

Variable pricing does not fix capacity, it rewards incompetence. If the authority is too incompetent to deliver the road service, it earns the most money from congestion charges. Thus the incentive is to be incompetent and fail to deliver proper road infrastructure.

Quoting the whole post because it's too good to languish at score 0.

Re:Hamburger Analogy (1)

Electricity Likes Me (1098643) | about a year ago | (#43551759)

Widening the 405 is an expensive and only temporary band-aid to the problem of traffic congestion. The hamburger analogy [streetsblog.net] explains why:

Let's give everyone free McDonald's hamburgers. Let's put 10,000 hamburgers a day on a table in front of the Capitol (or wherever).

What would happen? People would take and eat the hamburgers, and once word got out, all 10,000 hamburgers would be taken very quickly every day. We may thus infer that because people need food and they really seemed to like those burgers, McDonald's hamburgers are an important public good.

A city planner might notice a problem: those 10,000 hamburgers just aren't enough. They get taken very early in the morning, so not everybody has a chance to get a hamburger. The obvious solution--because burgers are a highly-valued public good--is to provide more free burgers. So the city planner starts to provide 20,000 hamburgers a day.

You can see where this is going. People start going out of their way to get the free hamburgers, and planning their day around that trip. The city has to keep providing more and more free burgers--eventually millions a day--to keep satisfying the demand for free hamburgers.

Free hamburgers are like unpriced freeway lanes. Eventually they will all get taken up. Any city planner (and Elon Musk) should know that a shortage happens when the price of an item is set below the going rate determined by supply and demand [wikipedia.org]. It's much, much easier and cheaper to fix the problem of traffic congestion once and for all with a variable price set at the market equilibrium rate than by trying to build your way out of traffic congestion. Even Randal O'Toole agrees [youtube.com].

Road planning history is full of people who were just convinced that it was all about tolls, and tend to assume that tolls have no overhead in implementation or collection - both in monetary and congestion terms. They also don't have a stunning track record of being implemented alongside the actual substitutes needed to have them reduce congestion - because if you need to go somewhere up that road, then either you can get there, or you can't.

mass transit? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551515)

i was going to suggest building a subway system, but a subway system might cause billions of US dollars. maybe LA can build a tram that runs parallel to interstate 405. just a thought.

people could take I-5 or I-210.. oh wait, they are probably already clogged during rush hour. tough situation for LA.

Building roads won't help (0)

svirre (39068) | about a year ago | (#43551551)

"He who sows roads, will harvest traffic" - H.J. Vogel

Building more highways only encourages more driving, it is the congestion that will be invariant, not the traffic. It may take a a couple of years, and the congestion may move a bit, but the congestion will remain. Fundamentally building more roads is a lousy solution to the transport problem. See also "The fundamental law of road congestion: Evidence from US cities" By Duranton & Turner

Build us a god damned flying car! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551559)

Then traffic will be for losers.

YES! a smaller gov should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551613)

In the past, every road build in the world raise fun like this!

Widening the 405 to eliminate gridlock? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551617)

Ha ha, tell me another one.
I lived in L.A. from 1966 until 1993. I've seen the 405 widened many times.
The day they open the new lanes they'll be at capacity and gridlocked – again.
More commuter rail? Sure. I don't know why they don't run a subway under or a monorail over the 405 while they're at it. They should have done that 30 years go. But you don't seriously think Elon is going to ride public transit to work do you?

Move your company (3, Insightful)

asm2750 (1124425) | about a year ago | (#43551629)

Sure, LA has a great talent pool of engineers, but I am sure it would have been cheaper to just have SpaceX in a region with better managed freeways, and less density. I'm sure the engineers wouldn't mind moving since LA is a hell hole these days when it comes to commuting.

Re:Move your company (1)

ruir (2709173) | about a year ago | (#43551753)

Move your company to the opposite building of your houseyou are the owner, after all.

Hawthorne (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551635)

I know a family in Hawthorne that might be willing to swap!

seriously? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43551647)

rich guy, doesn't like his commute in his fancy car from his mansion in an exclusive area to his office....

get a limo or mini van with driver and appropriate tech and turn the commute in to productive time...
-or-
do what many of us do - move closer and get a bicycle

Meanwhile... (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about a year ago | (#43551707)

Meanwhile, the owner of the construction firm in charge of the project, who's been bleeding the state for every last dime it could just shit himself as he looked up Elon Musks net worth and realized just how much more money he could make if he made the delays even more intolerable.

With more capacity, more people will move here (2)

BlueCoder (223005) | about a year ago | (#43551767)

The widening project was a travesty of wasted money. It's was more about employing people than it was increasing capacity which they didn't want to do since if you did that the rest of the LA area would suffer more crowning and traffic.

With the money they had they had available they could have built a layer on top of the existing freeway that could have withstood a 10.0 earthquake. It's really not that long a stretch they are working on. They could possibly have tunneled through the mountains in two or three places with the same amount of money which wouldn't have bothered existing traffic.

Back in the 50's oil companies bought off LA area city planning. They designed the city for traffic. They decided where the more expensive and less expensive areas would be. Then they put the areas of industry and shopping far away from the cheaper housing which is where more people travel from.

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