In addition to loving skyscrapers I also have a thing about bridges, and I periodically feature a picture of a bridge at my Culture Blog. Sometimes the pictures are taken by me, of one or other of the many bridges of London. Sometimes they are acquired from the infinity of information that is the Internet.
Some while ago I featured the Coronado Bridge, which is next to San Diego. In that connection someone else drew my attention to another splendid bridge in Macao. Commenting on that posting, Phil Cohen has this to say about the Coronado Bridge:
The original design for the Coronado Bridge was a much shorter, and almost straight span to the Island (actually, peninsula). Then in order to qualify for federal funding, (whereby our government pays most of the tab), the City of San Diego curved and lengthened the bridge to meet the minimum length standard that would qualify the Coronado Bridge for Federal funding.
How about that for an unintended consequence of taxpayer funding. They help you if yours is a long bridge, so San Diego builds a long bridge instead of a short bridge!
If you want to see even more clearly what Phil Cohen is talking about, just take a look at this map!
It is very rare that government spending has such conspicuously visible results. Normally, when governments waste money – which is what they mostly do with money, after all – the waste all happens tucked away in offices and in the form of a few thousand quietly invisible salaries for suburbanites. For every Concorde or Space Shuttle or daft piece of architecture there are a hundred bits of wastage that are no more exciting to look at than evaporating water. But this Coronado Bridge story really makes the point.
Personally I prefer the highly visible kind of government wastage. First, it is often, as with this bridge, and as with Concorde, very pretty to look at. Second, it very prettily dramatises how wasteful government spending can be, and I like that even more.