Rethinking calculations of worth The asphalt currency

Translate the cost of every initiative into its asphalt equivalent. Revitalizing the atmosphere of an area might only be 300m of asphalt equivalent and a youth project 30m. Do a thought experiment. What would the comparative impact be of reinvesting 1km of road equivalent into strategically targeted network capturing? What investment would have greater economic, image and cultural impact? We are uncritical and rigid in reassessing value in terms of a money numeraire as well as the budget proportions different departments, whether education, social services or transport, receive. Their positions in the budget hierarchy remain immutable. If you take a medium-sized city, dozens of kilometres of road will be asphalted annually. And this represents a stark choice. One kilometre of a standard two-lane road in the Western world costs about £1.2 million, a kilometre of motorway £3.8 million. That is if you are lucky. More often it is higher and relatively modest roads can cost up to £2.7 million per kilometre. Consider the effectiveness of investing these resources in an alternative and what its impact would be. Public transport is the obvious choice, but the interesting speculations occur when you broaden the possibilities.

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