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    Ray LaHood is probably best known to the broader public as the bureaucrat who has spent the last four years railing against distracted driving....But, in fact, to policy wonks, this unlikely crusader – formerly a Republican congressman from Central Illinois – will soon leave the job as the man who in many ways fundamentally shifted how Washington thinks about transportation and the federal government’s role in it. 

    Atlantic Cities
  • The story in most U.S. cities goes that on the seventh day, even parking enforcement officers rest. But thanks to slashed municipal budgets and seemingly never-ending congestion on the roads, that’s quickly and likely irrevocably changing. Earlier this month, San Francisco became the latest city to announce it will begin enforcing parking meters on Sundays...Predictably, it’s also caused quite a stir among Bay Area residents who think Sunday churchgoers are being unfairly targeted and that local residents are being priced out of their own neighborhoods.

    Atlantic Cities
  • By now even the most infrequent of fliers knows that all Boeing 787 Dreamliners have been suspended from service, forcing flight cancellations that have affected hundreds of thousands of passengers. How long this will continue is unclear, because as noted in this section last week, the timeline for the investigation remains uncertain, and Transportation Secretary Raymond LaHood has pledged the Federal Aviation Administration will "get to the bottom" of the lithium-battery malfunctions and fuel leaks blamed for multiple incidents, including an emergency landing and an onboard fire.

    USA Today
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    Not long ago, a team of researchers from Stanford and McGill universities broke a 35-year record in computer science by an almost imperceptible margin — four hundredths of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a percent, to be exact. The advance — made to that poster child for hard-to-solve computer science quandaries, the “traveling salesman” problem — was too minuscule to have any immediate practical significance, but it has breathed new life into the search for improved approximate solutions.

    Wired
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    Even before two battery failures led to the grounding of all Boeing787 jets this month, the lithium-ion batteries used on the aircraft had experienced multiple problems that raised questions about their reliability.

    New York Times
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    One hundred years ago, on Feb. 2, 1913, the doors to Grand Central Terminal officially opened to the public, after 10 years of construction and at a cost of more than $2 billion in today’s dollars. The terminal was a product of local politics, bold architecture, brutal flexing of corporate muscle and visionary engineering. No other building embodies New York’s ascent as vividly as Grand Central. Here, the tale of its birth, excerpted from “Grand Central: How a Train Station Transformed America,” by Sam Roberts, the urban affairs correspondent for The New York Times, to be published later this month by Grand Central Publishing.

    New York Times
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    The Beijing government put in place emergency measures on Wednesday to try to combat thick smog that has encased the city, which the Communist Party has hailed as a showcase capital, in brown and gray soot. The measures include temporarily shutting down more than 100 factories and ordering one-third of government vehicles off the streets, according to official news reports....the Beijing government was aiming to cut the density of major air pollutants by 2 percent this year. To that end, officials are ordering 180,000 older vehicles off the roads, promoting the use of “clean energy” for government vehicles and heating systems, and growing trees over 250 square miles of land in the next five years, Xinhua reported.

    New York Times
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    Muni’s capacity problem — particularly its crowded buses — is creating a “vicious cycle” of transportation choices in which travelers eschew public transit in favor of private automobiles, which in turn creates more traffic congestion, according to Timothy Papandreou, deputy director of planning at the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, which operates Muni.

    SF Examiner
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    The future will arrive, under the cover of darkness, at the Golden Gate Bridge on Wednesday morning...At about 5 a.m., the bridge district plans to switch on its new all-electronic toll-collection system, which will eliminate toll collectors when it's fully implemented in March. For now, though, toll takers will coexist with the high-tech equipment as the Golden Gate tests the state's first human-free, cash-free toll-taking operation on a bridge.

    SF Chronicle
  • With the help of his biker friends, a motorcyclist briefly shut down the 10 Freeway in West Covina to propose to his girlfriend amid a cloud of pink smoke. Now the California Highway Patrol is investigating....t's not the only freeway show gaining attention in California. In Oakland, CHP officers are looking for the drivers who spun doughnuts in the northbound lanes of Interstate 880 over the weekend. Videos of that "sideshow" incident have also gone viral.

    LA Times