Can Government Build Things Again?

Give the New York Times’s Ezra Klein credit for identifying a problem with big government institutions. “Our mechanisms of governance have become so risk averse that they are now running tremendous risks because of the problems they cannot, or will not, solve,” he tweeted. The subject was San Francisco’s attempt to make permanent the parklets, or parking spaces used as outdoor restaurant space, through 60 pages of regulations.

Similarly, here is Klein lamenting that plans to impose congestion pricing on drivers in Manhattan, a policy that’s arguably worked well in central London, can’t be launched until 2024.

Why so long? Klein asked. State and city governments have to agree, an environmental assessment takes “16 months of public meetings and traffic analyses,” and the government has some 400 comments and questions — how many nonwhite cab drivers may be displaced?

Klein is not the only one. In Manhattan, blogger and substacker Josh Barro reported, the transit authority’s plan to build one elevator and two new entrances at the Second Avenue subway’s 68th Street station is projected to cost more than $100 million. That’s typical. In 2017, the New York Times’s Brian Rosenthal documented that the subway’s construction costs ran $3.5 billion per mile,

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