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In honor of the Olympics I thought I would look to London for this week’s Transportation Tuesdays.  The Olympics are an interesting ordeal for a host city.  With massive construction and spatial requirements the Olympics demand an equally massive investment.  And unlike other investments the customers only come once.  So what does a city like London gain from hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics?  A hell of a lot of confusion and congestion.  Check out this article from the UK’s Daily Mail for a full scoop, or just look at the images below:

London already suffers from terrible traffic and, as you can see, the confusion over the dedicated Olympic lanes hasn’t helped a whole lot.  Most of these lanes were not even in official use at the time of these shots meaning they are open to the public.  But with the threat of a fine of around $200 and unclear rules Londoners are crowing into the remaining lanes and pushing delays to record highs.

However, it’s not all bad news.  Economists, planners, and politicians alike are hoping for a revitalization of London’s struggling East Side with the help of major investments in preparing the area for the games.  Although the event is short-term and only 4 of the Olympic structures are permanent many of the investments will outlast the games.

In addition to the many environmental cleanups, ensuring access to the games has created a new network of roads, bridges, and transit connections between the East End and the rest of London. totaling over $9 billion.  The connections include new Javelin high-speed rail lines capable of moving at 140 mph and moving up to 25,000 people an hour between Stratford and St Pancras International stations.

The East Side struggles with a quality of life well below that of its wealthier counterpart, including a life expectancy a full 7 years shorter!  Between the cleanup and new transportation links the East End is well prepared for the aggressive redevelopment process planned for shortly after the games’ close.

Perched at the edge of London’s main Olympic Park, Westfield mall expects to be an entrance point for up to three-quarters of those attending the 2012 Games. (Lefteris Pitarakis / Associated Press)

Further Reading: