June 11, 2019


Work used to be much simpler for the California Department of Transportation: widen highways, fill potholes, build new freeways*.

Alas, those quaint days are gone.

To get an idea of what planners must prepare for, state officials recently hosted a demonstration of a drone air taxi that will require devising a “highway above the ground,” said Reza Navai, a Caltrans transportation planner. “If you think transportation on the ground is complex.…”

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The state’s transportation gurus envision technology that will ping driverless vehicles with an automated message when they stray from their lanes, “smart” roads that charge electric cars and trucks as they pass and an electrified Interstate 5, the West Coast’s main freight corridor. California has already widened its painted lane stripes to six inches from four so self-driving vehicles can better “see” the road. Ultimately, the highways themselves will be redesigned and constructed with different materials.

California’s transportation agency, which updates its master plan every five years, is currently preparing a look at 2050. While officials cannot predict each new technological wrinkle, Reza said, “we must be able to consider all the possibilities.”

2050 – why bother? Vice, making a relaxed, pie-in-the-sky projection compared to AOC’s 12 years to doomsday, assures me there’s a “high likelihood of human civilization coming to an end” by that year.

* Building new freeways? Dude, that’s so Pat Brown.

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