Monday, September 22, 2008

Musical roads

The city of Lancaster recently allowed a company to cut grooves in a local road so that Honda Civics would play the "William Tell Overture" when they drove by. It was for a commercial for Hondas, which is why the road was tuned to the size of a Civic. Other sized cars played the song but a bit off key.

I hope the city was paid handsomely for this, and I hope that the neighbors who are now complaining were adequately compensated. A musical road is a pretty clear externality, and this is potentially an interesting twist on the classic textbook example of a Coasian bargain.

It seems that is the neighbors were to get the payment from the TV company for the rights to turn their street into a turntable they might go for it. Or perhaps this is the kind of novelty a city might want to do to encourage people to travel to a particular neighborhood. But mostly this seems like a sure-fire way to irritate a lot of people by getting the Lone Ranger theme stuck in their heads.

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