Thursday, July 17, 2008

Oh, yeah, Ground Zero is still a mess...and our whole country could suffer for it:

Rebuilding ground zero was going to be a great show of American defiance, a Knute Rockne speech to the nation. Seven years on, though, this grand statement is barely a stammer. In an unsparing new progress report, the site's landlord admitted that every part of the project is over budget and behind schedule. It will take several months just to map out a new timeline.

The 16-acre site is a tangle of more than 100 contractors and subcontractors answering to 19 public agencies--a sorry pageant of feuding bureaucrats, shady contractors, litigious developers and overzealous regulators. Even 9/11 advocacy groups share the blame, halting work over smallish details about how best to honor the victims. Few are honored by this impasse of competing agendas.

Nobody is arguing that the rebuilding effort--which will add as much Class-A office space as exists in all of downtown Atlanta--is simple. But lower Manhattan is in danger of becoming a metaphor for America's sluggish response to our most pressing economic challenges. A recent U.S. Chamber of Commerce report shows a litany of problems: an overloaded rail infrastructure that needs new tracks, signals, tunnels and bridges. Most ports need dredging; almost half of all canal locks are obsolete. While China is spending nearly 9% of its gdp on infrastructure, Americans lose $9 billion a year in productivity from flight delays alone.

Lovely to see how everybody is getting around to this now, when we all could have taken some huge hints from Philip Nobel on this.

Oh, and this one's for Jeffrey:

The Tour de France, which kicks off July 5, is a grueling test of human endurance, a three-week 2,175mile (3,500 km) race stretched over 21 stages, nine of them in the mountains. But in some ways the modern Tour is easier than races past. In the early 20th century, competitors pedaled the dirt roads of France through the night on fixed-gear bikes, evading human blockades, route-jamming cars and nails placed on the road by fans of other riders. Between stages, teams feasted on banquets and champagne; before climbs, they fortified with cigarettes.

Those were the days...

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