The North Shore Connector, aka, "Tragic Mistake"
We need this tunnel like we need football cheerleaders.
Yesterday, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Tom Coburn, both Republicans, released a report in which they detailed 100 wasteful projects being funded by the $862 billion stimulus package (not to be confused with a suspicious package) that was passed in 2009 to jump start our sinking-faster-than-the Pirates-in-July economy. It’s a fun read if your idea of fun is reading yourself into blood-boiling rage.
I didn’t freak out or anything when I read the first project that drew their ire—half a million stimulus dollars to replace the windows in a now-closed visitor center overlooking Mount St. Helens. Seems no more wasteful than the normal wastefulness we would associate with our government.
I burst out laughing when I read the second project that drew their ire … are you ready for this? The federal government granted the University of North Carolina more than $750,000 to create a computer program that would "define an evolving system that assists in the design and production of interactive dance performances with real-time audience interaction.”
I have read that 20 times, and I don’t have a clue as to what this is. I mean read it. I understand all the words as they stand alone, but put together in that sentence, in that order, and I’m all, "My name Evgeni … "
But, seriously. $750,000 to create some thing or some program that would do something with dance or something or other. WOO! ECONOMY STIMULATION SPIRIT FINGERS AND JAZZ HANDS!
I was smiling and laughing and pointing and then I arrived at the third project that drew the ire of the senators and talk about a whum-whum-whuuuuuuum moment.
Have a look:
“In February 2009, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell called Pittsburgh’s North Shore Connector “a tragic mistake,” leaving taxpayers wondering why the project recently received a $62.5 million windfall from the U.S. Department of Transportation.”
“But whether it will provide a true benefit to the city is also a matter of controversy, given that it will primarily serve to bring commuters to sporting events and a casino. Rivers Casino, however, is struggling financially and may turn into a drag on the city’s finances.”
Ah, yes, the North Shore Connector. The $390 million project that will cost $529 million. If you’re wondering where to put me and my curmudgeon WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING FILL IN THE BLANK self, you want to put me in the column of people that thinks this tunnel is a giant waste of money and unnecessary to the immediate transportation and infrastructural needs of the city of Pittsburgh.
We need this tunnel like we need football cheerleaders. WE DON’T NEED NO STINKING CHEERLEADERS.
I know. Hindsight. 20/20. But in hindsight, I wish someone would have said, "If we’re spending hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars to dig a tunnel under the river for 1.2 miles of rail so the people can easily get to the stadiums and the casino, I assume that the general state of the roads, bridges and general infrastructure in and around Pittsburgh is perfect and pristine and in no need of repair. I assume there are no bridges wearing diapers to catch the concrete poop. I assume there is no need for better transportation options to the airport or Oakland. I assume the Port Authority is raking in dough and using it to bake more dough. I assume that everything transportation-related in and around the city of Pittsburgh is fan-freaking-tastic. If so, then dig, baby, dig. But if not, WE DON’T NEED NO …"
You get the picture.
Now I’m going to kill the sadness I feel at such a huge waste of money by reading things like this:
“This will allow choreographers to explore interactive dance without always having a full cast of dancers present,” the grant states. One day, dance performances may enjoy the popularity of YouTube hits like “double rainbow” or “dramatic-look prairie dog.”