Country roads

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My wife and I spent Sunday and Monday in Lost River, West Virginia, staying in a prefab cabin in the hills. I liked this interesting dwelling so much that I hesitate to post this link to the people who rent it out. The area is beautiful, all the more so with a dusting of snow. I particularly recommend Smoke Hole Canyon. It was a good place to exercise my new camera (a Canon 5D mk2, since you ask; more on that vital matter another time).

I bring this up because, I confess, the trip made me examine my current enthusisam for infrastructure spending. The United States has plenty of badly congested highways and urban roads so deeply pitted that a half-track, rather than a mere Hummer, is called for. Fixing those problems seems a good idea. But the "Robert C. Byrd Appalachian Highway System"--the signs keep announcing that--is a different proposition altogether. I don't think I have seen roads so empty since I first drove along the M62 to Hull (in its day, one of Britain's more notable roads to nowhere). Like then, I was afraid I had found my way on to a road that had not been opened to the public. I imagined road-surfacing vehicles coming towards me line abreast round the next corner (not that the M62 to Hull has any corners, now I think of it).

Mr Byrd's highways are wider than the towns they connect.  I hope the fiscal stimulus includes no further shovel-ready improvements. I could see the case for hiring people to drive around on them, though, to help visitors feel more comfortable. Plug-in hybrids, obviously.

Update:

Did I say "dusting" of snow? That is not how it looked on Tuesday morning. Remind me in future not to tempt the weather gods.



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Clive Crook is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a columnist for Bloomberg View. He was the Washington columnist for the Financial Times, and before that worked at The Economist for more than 20 years, including 11 years as deputy editor. Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics. More

Crook writes about the intersection of politics and economics.

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