Why Are Infrastructure Projects So Slow These Days?
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One of the odder aspects of modern life is that it takes forever to build infrastructure. For example, the 2.7 mile paved walking path around the beautiful Lake Hollywood reservoir (which is under the famous Hollywood Sign), was washed out in places during the 2005 rains. The loop finally reopened in 2013, over eight years later.
In contrast, the sizable Mulholland Dam that created the reservoir in the 1920s was built in either 1.5 years (according to the bronze plaque on the dam) or 2.5 years (according to Wikipedia). In either case, it took at least five years less time to build the dam from scratch in the 1920s than to fix the road around the reservoir in the 2000s and 2010s.
On the other hand, as I was reading up on this dam, I saw that William Mulholland, Los Angeles’s titanic chief water engineer, followed up his Hollywood dam with his nearly identical St. Francis dam out in the northern exurbs, which also built in only a couple of years.
Unfortunately, the St. Francis dam collapsed in 1928, killing approximately 600 people. (In Chinatown, the depressed water engineer Hollis Mulwray is vaguely based on Mulholland post-St. Francis dam disaster.)
So, in the 1930s, Los Angeles went back and pushed a huge amount of dirt in front of the Hollywood version of the dam to keep from losing Hollywood. I hadn’t realized how tall the dam is under all the dirt until seeing this photo of the safety project from a 1934 Popular Science:
So, I don’t know. Maybe we have good reasons for doing things more slowly now?
(Republished from iSteve by permission of author or representative)Follow @steve_sailer