Traveling by car in Manhattan has slowed down 27 percent in the last 5 years, from a slow running pace of 6.5 mph on average to a fast walking pace of 4.7 mph (nytimes).
“The Most Expensive Mile of Subway Track on Earth” (nytimes) says the same thing as New Yorker magazine (the U.S. spends 5-6X what it costs other developed countries to build infrastructure), but supplies details on the no-show jobs, the $400/hour for union construction workers, etc.
As the U.S. population grows (due almost exclusively to immigration) and our successful cities reach Chinese-style population densities, I wonder if it is time to abandon the idea of travel by road or rail. Instead of trying to relearn how to build major infrastructure projects, why not arrange cities into walkable sub-cities in which the primary mode of transportation is via foot? To speed up travel-by-foot time, New York could build catwalks about 15′ above the streets. This is a pretty simple project that should be within an American local government’s capability and it would speed up travel times tremendously (no waiting for lights; no fighting for space on sidewalks that have become crowded).
Details: compensate building owners for the compromised view from the second floor windows by reducing the property tax rate on those floors.