Agent

America’s traffic engineers need to wake up

With today's technology, why aren't stoplights more efficient?

The other day, as my car juddered over constellations of potholes, past tenuously maintained schools and bus stops done up in graffiti, I got to wondering. The California county where I live has some of the highest taxes in the nation. Our sales tax is 8.75 percent. It costs $4 to cross the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. Yearly property taxes can easily reach five figures -- and no, I'm not including pennies. Yet in return for the torrent of tax money our government takes in, Californians have roads rated among the very worst in America, libraries that close for part of the week due to lack of funding, and a public school system that one respected research group has ranked 47th of the 50 states. Where, I wondered, is all this tax money going? As I dived to a stop at yet another ill-timed red light with no cross traffic in sight for miles, the answer came to me from above. Traffic signals. Apparently there's never a shortage of funds to pay for huge, complex and frequently superf...

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