Why it's good Houston lost the 2016 Olympics, plus job sprawl, traffic, and HSRI recently came across this story on crumbling public support for the 2016 Olympics in Chicago, as the costs, risks, and hassles become more clear.
The Tribune/WGN poll is the first measure of public sentiment since Daley did an about-face in June, saying he would sign the standard host city contract giving the city full financial responsibility for any losses -- a move that triggered a firestorm of criticism. Until then, the city had been lobbying for amendments to the contract that would recognize the city's limited guarantees.Sorry Chicago. I think they call it the "Winner's Curse" (they won the U.S. contest). London is also dealing with serious budget problems for the 2012 Olympics. All in all, it looks like a good thing we were bypassed.
Poll respondents made it abundantly clear that they disapprove of Daley's promise of an unlimited guarantee in the event the Games lose money, with 75 percent opposed.
In a city already upset over the privatization of parking meters and worried about further cutbacks in government services, those respondents who talked to reporters expressed concerns about the economy, the cost of hosting the Games and traffic congestion.
Even a majority of those who favor the Olympics opposed using taxes to cover losses and were against the unlimited guarantee.
...experts said the findings could hurt Chicago's chances.
"When less than half of the folks polled indicate they'd be willing to support the Olympics, that's certainly not an enthusiastic mandate for bringing the Games to Chicago," said sports finance expert Dennis Howard of the University of Oregon. "I can't speak for the IOC members who will be making the decision, but I'd be fairly certain this would not help the cause for Chicago."
The poll comes a month before the International Olympic Committee selects the host city for the 2016 Olympics. Chicago is competing against Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro.
Moving on to a few smaller items:
- A Brookings study on increasing 'job sprawl', a big reason commuter rail makes less and less sense as fewer and fewer people (proportionally) work downtown. Some of the core points:
- Only 21 percent of employees in the top 98 metro areas work within three miles of downtown, while over twice that share (45 percent) work more than 10 miles away from the city center.
- Employment steadily decentralized between 1998 and 2006: 95 out of 98 metro areas saw a decrease in the share of jobs located within three miles of downtown.
- In almost every major industry, jobs shifted away from the city center between 1998 and 2006.
Study: Reducing Traffic Congestion Would Spur Huge Economic Growth
How much would your city's economy grow if its roads were free-flowing instead of jammed? A new Reason Foundation study by David Hartgen and Gregory Fields examines how reducing gridlock would increase economic output and worker productivity in eight cities across the country. In Dallas, getting rid of traffic congestion would boost the economy by $46 billion a year. Denver would get a $38 billion increase in Gross Regional Product if it had free-flowing traffic conditions. Atlanta, Charlotte, San Francisco and Seattle would all see more than $10 billion a year in economic growth if they prioritized infrastructure projects and eliminated severe traffic congestion.
Sorry, nothing specific on Houston, which I guess means they think we've done relatively well on freeway investments compared to other cities (juicer targets for their analysis). Still, I'm sure we'd see big gains from reduced traffic congestion too (probably comparable to Dallas' $46 billion/year).
- And finally, Newsweek's Robert J. Samuelson joins the growing chorus of critics of high-speed rail.