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Topic: Infrastructure (Read 12409 times)

  • jax
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Infrastructure
Do we invest too little in public infrastructure, or too much? Should we spend more on new infrastructure, or in maintaining what we got? Should old infrastructure be replaced, upgraded, removed, or saved for posterity? Who should pay for it? Who should use it? What infrastructure should we have more of and what less? Is it good for your town, country, world, even if it is away from you? Where can we find good infrastructure and where bad?

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #25


I guess a road bridge would be more statistically manly then. I have a thing for international bridges and tunnels, and the Hong Kong - Zhuhai - Macau  tunnel-bridge to open in 2016 kind of fits the bill. Though Hong Kong and Macau are no longer British/Portuguese colonies, they will not administratively join the mainland for at least another 33 years, while Zhuhai is part of the mainland.



The bridge joins the outlying Lantau Island of Hong Kong (with the airport, Disneyland and a very tall Buddha statue) with the casinos of Macau (Macau is the Las Vegas/Atlantic City of Asia), and a branch to Zhuhai north of Macao. Macao (and Zhuhai) may branch out to the west to the (soon former) island of Hengqin, which is going to be a special economic zone, and which Macau may partially lease, increasing the size of Macau substantially (Hengqin is three times the size of Macau).


Just as one huge project is finishing, they are planning the next, connecting Shenzhen and Zhongshan. That too doesn't seem to include rail, so at some point a third bridge, for better high-speed rail to connect the lines on either side, will probably be built.

By the look of things all the cities in the neighbourhood are congealing into a Pearl River megacity.


  • Banned Member
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #26
I suspect not piling everything up in one single super-booperbridge is not at all bad for security reasons. (However, nothing will help if Katsung visits the neighbourhood.)

  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #27
It seems like for such ultra-long bridges, the costs/benefits ratio would quickly lean toward doing both at once. Around here many (not all) river bridges are separate for road and rail traffic, but I suspect that's partially because they were (originally) constructed decades or in some cases centuries apart. Rail infrastructure goes back a long time.

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #28
There are supposedly huge cost savings to do rail and road simultaneously, especially high-speed rail and those super highways, but also for more modest projects. Construction is easier and cheaper, you cut the land once instead of twice, their requirements for curvature and gradients are similar. The rail lines are usually in the middle, but alternatively may be elevated into viaducts.

That definitely goes for bridges and tunnels as well. Arguably it may sometimes make sense to pre-emptively include rail capabilities to a bridge. If the rail project fell through or is delayed the space could be used for more road capacity. Bicycle and pedestrian path should be there as well, though not on a 30+ km project like this.

The problem is that the agencies responsible for the construction and maintenance of roads usually are wholly separate from the agencies responsible for the construction and maintenance of rail.

There is a difference in how the Chinese, Koreans and Japanese build and the Europeans build, (which in turn differs from how the Americans build, but they don't build rail and are unlikely to do so in the medium future, so rail/road integration is moot).

The East Asians are very fond of building viaducts, especially for high-speed rail, while the Europeans haven't built that many since the Romans. There are cost reasons, they actually can be cheaper as the elements are mass fabricated and machine controlled in huge factories while there is a greater degree of manual labour on the ground. They are less vulnerable to the environment. They are less disruptive locally as farms, roads, bridges go under them, while a regular rail (or motorway) track is one big impenetrable wall. On the other hand they are much more visible and somewhat more audible than rail on the ground. A railroad passing through a forest is fairly invisible. A viaduct passing through it is not, though for the passengers it is a lot more exciting passing above the tree tops than below it. Travelling through the endless forests of Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia is incredibly boring.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #29
There are supposedly huge cost savings to do rail and road simultaneously, especially high-speed rail and those super highways, but also for more modest projects. Construction is easier and cheaper, you cut the land once instead of twice, their requirements for curvature and gradients are similar. The rail lines are usually in the middle, but alternatively may be elevated into viaducts.

Yup. For instance, in the Netherlands roads and railroads are made by first dumping a lot (A LOT) of sand in place to make them stable. Tossing in a bit more while you're doing it anyway is much easier to do.

That definitely goes for bridges and tunnels as well. Arguably it may sometimes make sense to pre-emptively include rail capabilities to a bridge. If the rail project fell through or is delayed the space could be used for more road capacity. Bicycle and pedestrian path should be there as well, though not on a 30+ km project like this.

Same for the expressways. No railroad after all? Well, you just go yourself a nice secondary road, or some extra future potential lanes or whatever.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #30
Nice video about the bridge's construction process.
I can imagine the headaches the Director of Project will have...
A matter of attitude.

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #31

I suspect that's partially because they were (originally) constructed decades or in some cases centuries apart. Rail infrastructure goes back a long time.

That in a sense seemed to have happened here, even though the time difference would be less than a decade. When the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau was conceived, it was a project at the edge of possibility. They looked at adding rail, but that would take it over the edge. Hong Kong had their airport express trains, but at the time there were only one high-speed line in Mainland China (though many more were planned). Otherwise rail would have obvious, there is a need for speed, no need for flexibility (basically you don't drive into Hong Kong or Macau), and the volume would probably be there, though the west side of Pearl River is relatively sparsely populated.

Remember, a decade earlier at the Hong Kong takeover from Britain in 1997 the Chinese government was furious at the British for what they considered their gigantic and insanely expensive airport project in the barely inhabited island off Lantau (where the bridge will be going). The old airport was overcrowded both inside and outside the airport, quite challenging for the pilots and not the favourite of nervous passengers (this landing was in good weather).



These three in crosswinds:


Now 17 years later this "insane" British project is still a big one, but no longer at top. Beijing is bigger (the current one, not the the much bigger one that will open in five years), Shanghai Hongqiao is similar or bigger, as is the new airport in neighbouring Shenzhen that opened half a year ago. It has integration with high-speed rail (when the construction is finished), metro (when the construction is finished), intercity motorways, and this road bridge going from the airport across Pearl River to Zhongshan. It reportedly has 8 road lanes and no train tracks.



There were plans for a airport-to-airport line going from inside the security zone of Hong Kong airport to inside the security zone of Shenzhen airport, which would make transfer from one airport to the other more convenient, at least in theory reducing three security checks (two airports and crossing one international border) into one. I haven't heard anything since, but the plans may pop up again.

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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #32
Bicycle and pedestrian path should be there as well, though not on a 30+ km project like this.
Why? An hour's trip.

Travelling through the endless forests of Canada, Scandinavia, and Russia is incredibly boring.
For you?
I reckon it's romantic. Let alone the popping time to time up of small semi-rural stations when babushki wait for you to jump out and buy a packet of hot potato and some other snack.:)

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #33

I suspect not piling everything up in one single super-booperbridge is not at all bad for security reasons. (However, nothing will help if Katsung visits the neighbourhood.)


Having two bridges make sense, but when this outer bridge started it was at the edge of feasibility. Now, before the first bridge has finished, they will start another (Shenzhen-Zhongshan). What I said didn't make sense to me was that they didn't include rail tracks on the second bridge (too bad on the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau, but different times).

There is a 200 km/h track on the west side of the river and a 350 km/h track under construction on the east side. If you wanted to cross the river from Shenzhen to Zhongshan with a car or bus, you would go straight across the river, but if you wanted to do that with rail you would have to go all the way to Guangzhou. There is little point in going three times as fast as a car if you have to travel more than three times as far.

The two bridges have different uses. Going Shenzhen-Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Zhongshan would make no sense anyway, today you would rather take the existing bridges further inland, but particularly it would make little sense considering that Hong Kong, Macau, and Mainland China are three different entities. Hong Kongers and Macanese can enter each other territories freely, but mainland Chinese need a visa-like permit to enter either, and the Hong Kongers and Macanese need a permit to enter mainland China. That, plus the queue in the border control, means that mainland Chinese wouldn't go by either territory if the final destination is the mainland. To a less extreme extent a Hong Konger going to Zhongshan or a Macanese going to Shenzhen wouldn't use the inner bridge either.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #34
Why? An hour's trip.

Agreed. The 32km long Afsluitdijk is very popular with cyclists. The cycling path was an integral part of the original construction plans, as it is in the 2016 renovation plans. jax shows that he is neither Dutch nor Danish, despite my earlier emphasis on cycling outside of the (inner) city. :)

Another nice example of a cycling path can be found at one of the most impressive feats of 20th century Dutch engineering, the Oosterscheldekering.





The structure itself is a mere 8km, but if you look at it on the map you'll realize the distance from e.g. Middelburg to Zierikzee is 42km.

This is why cycling actually works in the Netherlands. Infrastructure. Saying a bridge is 30km so people won't cycle there is just a Catch 22. One that's easily disproved by 80 years of Afsluitdijk. Take note, China.
  • Last Edit: 2014-05-10, 11:43:35 by Frenzie

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #35
For you?
I reckon it's romantic. Let alone the popping time to time up of small semi-rural stations when babushki wait for you to jump out and buy a packet of hot potato and some other snack.:)

Yes, for me. But for some reason road is much worse than rail, possibly from the worry that the driver will fall asleep. Perfectly straight roads with hardly any height difference and a perfect wall of trees 5 meters from the road on each side is at best slightly hypnotic.

In a train car it is a lot less intrusive, probably because the train car is much bigger and the fact that the outside tapestry doesn't change much, if at all, isn't that much of a concern. The Swedish rail company handling Northern Sweden had kind of a double decker restaurant/view car, where you actually got a bit of a view from the top, which made a huge difference.

Likewise if you should travel through Finland the advise is to go from the north to the south rather than south to north. The north is slightly higher up, so you will see more on your trip. I couldn't find a video of that, so here is the closest thing.


  • mjmsprt40
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #36
The problem, Jax, is that the train's engineer is not immune to falling asleep. If it can happen to drivers of cars, it can happen to the operator of the train's controls.

Note: We had it happen not long back here in Chicago. You may have heard about the CTA train that tried to climb the escalators a couple of months back. The operator was asleep, the train had overshot the auto-braking system and-- it made for great photos and much comment on Reddit. Turned out the engineer had a bit of history of falling asleep at the controls, she had overshot a stop sometime earlier because she was asleep. She got fired for the incident at the airport escalator.
What would happen if a large asteroid slammed into the Earth?
According to several tests involving a watermelon and a large hammer, it would be really bad!

  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #37
The problem, Jax, is that the train's engineer is not immune to falling asleep. If it can happen to drivers of cars, it can happen to the operator of the train's controls.

Over here the standard safety system is some kind of lever the driver has to push every two minutes, and otherwise the train stops automatically. Trains also slow down automatically if they come closer than 2km to another train in front of them, etc. The only difficulty is that these systems vary per country, but it's slowly being normalized.

On a related note, there's already e.g. a driverless metro in Lille and a driverless terminal train thingy in Detroit Wayne Airport. And that's just two I personally came across.

  • Belfrager
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #38
Take note, China

If there's anything Chinese wants is not having to cycle anymore...
They prefer Mercedes.
A matter of attitude.

  • Macallan
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #39

On a related note, there's already e.g. a driverless metro in Lille and a driverless terminal train thingy in Detroit Wayne Airport. And that's just two I personally came across.

If I remember correctly, the Dockland Light Rail in east London was at least experimenting with going driverless in the 1990s.

  • rjhowie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #40
Just remembered Frenzie (as an afterthought) that when I visited that Royal Palace at Het Loo, i took my regalia with me and a Royal attdenet was more than happy to take my picture at points of interest. I can smile now but some other tourists thought I was something to do with the palace and wanted to take pictures. I often laugh at the reaction! It is as you say a nice place and intend to renew my acquaintance with it again.
"Quit you like men:be strong"

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #41

Agreed. The 32km long Afsluitdijk is very popular with cyclists. The cycling path was an integral part of the original construction plans, as it is in the 2016 renovation plans. jax shows that he is neither Dutch nor Danish, despite my earlier emphasis on cycling outside of the (inner) city. :)

Another nice example of a cycling path can be found at one of the most impressive feats of 20th century Dutch engineering, the Oosterscheldekering.


The structure itself is a mere 8km, but if you look at it on the map you'll realize the distance from e.g. Middelburg to Zierikzee is 42km.

This is why cycling actually works in the Netherlands. Infrastructure. Saying a bridge is 30km so people won't cycle there is just a Catch 22. One that's easily disproved by 80 years of Afsluitdijk. Take note, China.


No, I wouldn't. Even when I was still bicycling I wouldn't go more than say 10 km in general, but specifically I wouldn't do it in Guangdong (Canton), southern China. The climate is hot and humid on a good day. The longest bridges tend to disallow bicycling anyway, the best reason is that if there is a sidewalk, it is usually not wide enough for comfortable cycling. Wider would cost more money, and there would have to be enough bicyclists to justify what would in effect be a ninth lane.

Your example is a structure that would be there anyway, the cost is sunk. There is a similar example with the metro in Prague. The end of one line is an elevated tube, with pedestrian and bicycle paths on top.



Worse, for Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau link is a bridge-tunnel. Tunnels rarely allow bicyclists and pedestrians in. Some have some kind of sidewalk or painted bicycle path, but these are neither safe nor comfortable, and generally extremely narrow. Physically separated paths would be considerably better, but would add to the expense immensely. Service/escape tunnels could be used as bicycle tunnels, but they are not really suitable for that.

Norway is riddled with tunnels. Typically when a new tunnel is dug the old road is turned into a tourist road/bicycle path. However the tunnel was made for a reason, so the old road is typically meandering and often steep. This is what passes for a bicycle path in Norway, but at least one where a bicyclist may bypass a driver [jaybro warning: This video displays height, but not in a way to induce vertigo]:



Sometimes the tunnel replaces a ferry, then the conditions for the bicyclist gets even worse. Essentially the bicyclist will have to go over or around a mountain, or around a fjord, while a driver can drive straight through. The bicyclist gets the better views, but not a good alternative  for the daily commute.

This is what a similar location (not same place, but same region and same purpose, connecting Oslo with Bergen) could look like for a driver. This is the longest road tunnel in the world (25 km/ 15 miles), speeded up for your convenience (or in normal speed). The artificial sky three times in the video is to keep drivers sane.



For long bridges like Shenzhen-Zhongshan, just like in parts of Norway, travelling by bike would be a massive detours. I'd rather take the bike train, only that there won't be any. Of course one of the eight lanes could be repurposed for bikes and motorbikes, another for rush direction traffic, leaving 3+3.

  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #42
Just remembered Frenzie (as an afterthought) that when I visited that Royal Palace at Het Loo, i took my regalia with me and a Royal attdenet was more than happy to take my picture at points of interest. I can smile now but some other tourists thought I was something to do with the palace and wanted to take pictures. I often laugh at the reaction! It is as you say a nice place and intend to renew my acquaintance with it again.

:lol:

I hope at least that they were foreign. :P

Your example is a structure that would be there anyway, the cost is sunk.

I occasionally use the dedicated pedestrian tunnel to go to the other side of the Scheldt. There are also dedicated bridges to be found in many places. Besides, we are talking about a structure that's going to be there anyway. In Chicago I've actually seen a solution that might help. I believe it's on the I-90, where the middle lane or two of the road vary their direction depending on the time of day. In the morning that makes the road into Chicago something like 6 lanes, while at night it results in the reverse. I think it also had signs saying those express lanes were reserved for people who were carpooling, but that aside.

The Dutch equivalent is so-called rush hour lanes. During rush hour, the shoulder becomes part of the road.

Cycling express ways exist in the Netherlands, Belgium (well, the province of Antwerp really), and Denmark. They're currently developing a couple in the Ruhr district, as well. I repeat, this is what infrastructure means. You just can't go around saying "why aren't people cycling more?" when you're not doing anything to make cycling (or walking) more pleasant. Here in Antwerp (city and province) they're working hard on catching up to the Netherlands. They quit saying stupid things and are acting in ways concordant with their words.

All that being said, a train (with the option to take a bike along) would probably be better on that bridge.

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #43

The problem, Jax, is that the train's engineer is not immune to falling asleep. If it can happen to drivers of cars, it can happen to the operator of the train's controls.

Note: We had it happen not long back here in Chicago. You may have heard about the CTA train that tried to climb the escalators a couple of months back. The operator was asleep, the train had overshot the auto-braking system and-- it made for great photos and much comment on Reddit. Turned out the engineer had a bit of history of falling asleep at the controls, she had overshot a stop sometime earlier because she was asleep. She got fired for the incident at the airport escalator.


This one? I think I heard of it, I didn't really see it.



The Swedish line I think have fail-safes as well, in any case it is a line with very low and slow traffic.

The Saltsjöbanan commuter rail to Stockholm didn't. Last year a run-away train derailed at the end station and rammed straight into a house (that seems to have been quite solidly built). The train company initially blamed a cleaner for joyriding the train, but it was later determined that several important safety mechanisms had been deactivated and that she accidentally started the train by cleaning it.


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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #44
There's an alternative to bicycles:

  • jax
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #45

I occasionally use the dedicated pedestrian tunnel to go to the other side of the Scheldt. There are also dedicated bridges to be found in many places.


Pedestrian tunnels are plenty. My personal favourite may be the tunnel connecting the two different Prague city districs of Žižkov and Karlín.



But the longest and most impressive tunnel (and connecting elevators and stairs) I've been to must be the old Elbe tunnel running under the river in Hamburg.



The Vítkov hill in Prague actually has two pedestrian/cycle tunnels now. In addition to the pedestrial tunnel on top, as the railroad has been upgraded a couple years ago, the old rail tunnel has been turned into a bicycle path tunnel. In other words you have one tunnel on top crossing the one on the bottom.

All these tunnels are fairly short though, half km or less.


  • Frenzie
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #46
Check out the original 1930s wooden escalators:



Also check out the Maastunnel in Rotterdam (designed for both cars and cyclists/pedestrians, in separate tubes):


  • Belfrager
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #47
Forcing cyclists to use bicycle dedicated paths it's social racism and apartheid and a plan to force cyclists to wear helmets, have matriculation, pay insurance and not being allowed to ride drunk.
I'm totally against bicycle paths.

Bicycle paths are for sissies. I have all the right in this world to use streets and roads that I've paid for as much as automobilists did.
A matter of attitude.

  • Macallan
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #48

Bicycle paths are for sissies. I have all the right in this world to use streets and roads that I've paid for as much as automobilists did.

They only exist so assholes can park their cars on them :right:

  • tt92
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Re: Infrastructure
Reply #49



Bicycle paths are for sissies. I have all the right in this world to use streets and roads that I've paid for as much as automobilists did.

A motorist who is determined not to appear as a sissy and is determined to assert his rights might miscalculate and come into contact with a similarly-minded motorist and suffer embarrassment, rueful smiles all round or even fisticuffs.
An arrogant cyclist's contact with an arrogant motorist, secure in his steel carapace, could be his last.