What Would Caltrans' Big-Bucks, Big-Box Building Buy, Baby?

California taxpayers shelled out $190 million for the new Caltrans headquarters, designed by a Pritzker Prize-winning architect, in downtown Los Angeles.

The building cost $1.8 billion less than the total amount diverted from transportation projects by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Still, it's fun to imagine what its price might have bought instead of a Death Star-sized bureaucracy box.

— Howard Blume

370 feet of the proposed San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge East Span*

3,696 feet of subway**

3 miles of light rail (above ground)***

70 light-rail cars

95 subway cars

542 standard buses

760 miles of resurfaced streets

6,400 miles of slurry seal

9,500 left-turn traffic-signal arrows

9,047 Toyota hybrids — for use in carpool lanes

95,000 speed bumps

190,000 stop signs

570,000 hours of rail service

1,117,647 wheel alignments****

1.6 million filled potholes

2,375 traffic signal installations

1,900 traffic cops (One year's salary of $70,000 plus benefits.)

*Cost of bridge: $5.13 billion

**based on Red Line, completed June 2000

***based on Gold Line, completed July 2003

****to fearlessly bolt over potholes