Here’s a chance to win everlasting national fame, and, more importantly, a coveted piece of Freakonomics schwag. What’s better, all you have to do for it is complain — which, if you’re like me, you do all the time anyway. Welcome to the Freakonomics “Paved With Good Intentions” contest, in which we pay loving tribute to the most abysmal roads in America.
Here’s how it works. Write a brief homage (no more than 150 words) to the worst stretch of road you know of. You have broad latitude in your definition of “worst.” It may be the most congested, the most poorly maintained, the ugliest, the most dangerous, the most confusing, the worst integrated with adjacent land uses, or any combination of the above. You may also devise a standard of your own. Tell us why your road is the best example of the worst in American transportation, toss in a bit of wit and literary flash, and post your entry in the comments section.
Bashing America’s blacktop may be fun, but an awesome responsibility like the presentation of Freakonomics schwag is no laughing matter. Hence we will employ only the highest ethical standards. I’ll have nothing to do with the judging; instead, I’m bringing in a couple of celebrity judges from the outstanding transportation program at UCLA’s crosstown rival, the University of Southern California. (PS: Don’t tell them we think so highly of them, we don’t want them getting big heads.) USC professor Genevieve Giuliano and her doctoral student Mohja Rhoads (with a name like Rhoads, how could she not be a judge) have kindly agreed to select the finalists; you the readers will vote on the winning entry.
The judges will be looking at the intelligence of the standards you choose, the extent to which your road matches up to them, and the style you bring to your description of your entry. Good luck, and enjoy your chance to vent about the stretch of asphalt that really “drives” you crazy.