Thursday, August 05, 2010

A couple of observations from the road...

Hopefully, I'll get back on schedule next week, but I'll try to get something posted re: the unemployment numbers tomorrow afternoon (the new claims data was surprisingly bad today).

I just returned from a few days mired in that tourist trap.... I mean our nation's capital, Washington, D.C. and thought I'd offer some observations.

*** I've seen the occasional road project going on in the North Country - two random country bridges in particular seem to come to mind - but you really need to drive the I-95 corridor to grasp the level of construction going on. NJ is basically one long construction zone. I can't verify it but it looks like the Turnpike is getting it's own Great Adventure lane (for my non-Jersey based readers Great Adventure is a huge Six Flags park that has notoriously caused summer delays on the Turnpike). The Turnpike seems to be undergoing an expansion from the north to exit 6 and from the south around exit 6 northbound. Conveniently, Great Adventure is located at exit 7A.

While I'm on the subject of NJ traffic, I'll mention my favorite sign "recovery and renewal" sign that is posted 1 mile from my in-law's home. A new on ramp is being built at the dangerous Rt 1&9/Pulaski/440 intersection. It will clearly help traffic and is long overdue for such a busy area. The total cost -$200 million: $199,400,000 from the Federal Gov't and $600,000 from NJ. Like I said, this is a worthwhile project, but for NJ to even put their name on the sign is just comical when they are only kicking in less than 0.5% of the total cost. In the back of my mind though I wonder how much bang for our buck we are getting. What would $200 million buy us in India or China? Maybe 20 miles of a new seven lane highway? In NJ we get 1/4 mile of on ramp for $200 million.

Maryland is undergoing a similar level of construction along their section of 95. If you ever wondered where all of the cranes from Dubai have gone now that Dubai has gone belly-up look no further than Maryland.

*** DC tourism seemed to be down a bit. Admittedly, it's nearing the end of the summer and it was pleasantly warm but we saw the Jefferson and FDR memorials by ourselves and there was plenty of free downtown parking to be had.

*** DC itself seems to be the city than never saw the recession. Law firms, consultants, lobbyists, Defense dept, NSA, etc., all seem to be hiring so housing remains relatively strong and the city still has a good vibe.

*** To my biking readers: take your bike to DC. I made the mistake of leaving mine at home because I was afraid that the "Ride in DC" program was just hype. From what I saw, it's a bike crazy city with far more cyclists than I've ever seen in NYC, Boston or Philly and many people commuting by bike.

Finally, Lemonade Wars..... Health Inspectors shutdown 7 yr-old's Lemonade stand without the "proper" $120 permit.


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