Fun_People Archive
14 Apr
National Super Highway

Date: Thu, 14 Apr 94 14:14:28 PDT
To: Fun_People
Subject: National Super Highway

Forwarded-by: LeClub International <>
From: (Marshal Perlman)

**National Science Foundation Develops a National Super Highway**

     The National Science foundation is in the process of developing plans to
build a national super highway that will advance transportation technology in
our country. The super highway proposed will replace the existing interstate
highway system and allow speeds of at least 240 MPH. The following interview
with NSF developers explores their current plans.

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ME: I understand you are building a new Super national highway(1) to serve the
purposes of advancing ground transportation throughout our county .

NSF: Yes we are, as a part of an earlier initiative sponsored by the then
Senator Gore. We are very excited about the technology that will allow
transportation speeds of 240 MPH(2) across the country.

ME: That sounds exciting, how will it be built?

NSF: Well, we will have this super highway designed to allow the high speed
travel(3) and it will have six entrance/exit ramps(4).

ME: Ahh.... that doesn't sound like very many ramps, where will they be

NSF: Well, several years ago we funded the establishment of six gourmet
restaurants(5) scattered across the country, we are going to fund the building
of the super highway and access ramps at the restaurant locations. We are
however allowing the ramp contractor(6) to build as many ramps as he wishes, 
at his own expense.

ME: I assume then the contractor for the highway(7) builds ramps where ever it
makes sense to optimize access.

NSF: Well, not exactly. We are separating the contracts for the ramps and the
highway so the bidders can be very competitive.

ME: I see. How to you plan to connect the rest of the interstate highway
system(8) to your super national highway?

NSF: Well actually, its not part of our plan. We are having the highway and
access ramps built for us, its up to the states or other government agencies 
to provide the highways to the access ramps. We will however fund a few 
temporary roads(9) to connect parts of the existing interstate highway system,
but don't intend to make them permanent. Did I forget to mention that we will 
be shutting down the existing interstate highway system(10)?

ME: You mean I will no longer be able to drive across the existing interstate
highway system?

NSF: Yes, it will be destroyed.

ME: OK, lets see If I understand. I have a state highway system for example, 
and I put in a connecting highway to your super highway, and I can now travel
on it, right?

NSF: Well, no you can't. The super highway will only be used for vehicles that
can run 240 MPH(11) and we must approve every vehicle, destination, and trip
the vehicle takes(12). We don't want our super highway clogged with vehicles
which can only travel 70 MPH(13).

ME: I'm confused. You mean you want my state for example, to build an access
road to a super highway it can't generally use?

NSF: Well, yes and no. You see we also want to encourage development of toll
roads in our country(14). Our six high speed access ramps are wide enough to
allow parallel toll roads to be accessed as well as our super highway. Private
road builders will be able to put in toll roads between our access ramps, for 
a fee.

ME: So there will no longer be a "free" interstate highway system?

NSF: Right!

ME: Lets see if I got this straight. You build a national super highway that
has six access ramps located where you once established gourmet restaurants 
and you destroy the interstate highway system. There are no plans to replicate 
the functionality of the interstate highway systems, but you will allow private
toll road builders to use your wide access ramps and develop parallel toll
roads to your super highway. My state or the government has to build the roads
that lead to the super highway, but once there, cannot travel on it unless the
specific vehicle can run at 240 MPH and has specific permission from you to
travel on it.

NSF: You've got it!

ME: Well then you must have a very interesting reason to put this highway and
the access ramps at these restaurant locations.

NSF: Well, you see, the gourmet food business isn't what it used to be. Fast
food has really taken over in our country, we really need to preserve the
gourmet food business(15). High quality restaurants should be located right 
off of classy high speed highways. We really would like to encourage 
restaurant patrons to use the super highway so they can have breakfast in 
San Diego and dinner in Champaign Illinois. We will be looking for patrons who
can afford to eat at multiple restaurants and we will let them ride the highway
for free! Of course they must have a vehicle that can go 240 MPH(16).

ME: I'm even more confused. How will I get across the country?

NSF: Well, if your state puts in an access road to one of our access ramps you
take it, and then exit-off on to one of the toll roads that will be built
parallel to our super highway.

ME: How fast will I be able to go(17)?

NSF: What ever the speed limit is on the toll road.

ME: What will it cost me to ride on it?

NSF: What ever the toll is. You see, we expect that several toll roads will be
developed. Competition! It should keep the price down.

ME: When the super highway is empty, how will it be used?

NSF: Well, we are telling the gourmet restaurants that they should work
together even though they will be competing with each other for customers(18).
You know, they could develop plans to send trash to each other so they can
demonstrate how fast the transportation is on the super highway, it would be 
in their best interest(19).

ME: Aren't there plans for development of high speed toll roads already in
progress by several toll road builders? What makes you think they will put
their roads in-between your access ramps(20)?


ME: What?

NSF: Field Of Dreams. If we build it they will come.

ME: So again, tell me who pays for what?

NSF: The government funds the super highway and six access ramps. The toll road
providers build their own roads and pays an access fee for the ramps. The
states and other government agencies pay for any roads necessary to get to the
access ramps. When you get on a toll road and pay what ever the price is.

ME: And the only one's allowed to ride on the super highway are those persons
who have special vehicles that can go 240 MPH with your specific permission, or
those who can afford to frequent the gourmet restaurants and travel at 240 MPH.
Everyone else takes the toll roads.

NSF: Right, but don't forget the trash runs between restaurants!

ME: Oh, how silly of me! Hmmmm. I wonder if this is really what Senator Gore
had in mind?

- - - - - 
(1)NSFnet backbone project

(2)155 megabit

(3)high speed data transfer

(4)Network Access Points (NAP's)

(5)NSF sponsored super computer centers

(6)The contractor providing the NAP's.

(7)The contractor to provide the backbone telecommunications services

(8)The Existing internet, regional, state, and other networks

(9)NSF plans to provide interim funding for NSF regionals to connect to the
NAP's. State networks and other government agencies are on their own.

(10)The existing NSFnet will be turned off at some point after the new
"arrangement" is in place.

(11)The Very High Speed Backbone Service (VBNS) is reserved for applications
and purposes where a demonstrated need for high speed/capacity transmission is

(12)NSF will require approval

(13)NSF does not wish to clog the VBNS with low speed aggregate traffic unless
additions are made to the network. 70 MPH=45 MBS.

(14)The NSF expects commercial providers like AT&T, MCI to put networking
between NAP's. Most of the existing NSFnet traffic would go over these
commercial networks which would have to be paid for by the users.

(15)The usefulness of super computer systems has been grossly reduced by the
technological advances associated with very powerful Unix work stations. Super
computers fill a diminishing niche in science and industry.

(16)NSF is looking for potential users that can use more than one super
computer center and use the VBNS to make the application work. Applications of
this nature are a bit obscure.

(17)There are no specifications for commercial providers.

(18)NSF super computer centers are no longer funded by NSF so they compete for
commercial and non-commercial business.

(19)NSF is asking the NSF super computer centers to develop demonstration
applications which show how the network might be used. These applications 
would demonstrate, and not necessarly do anything useful.

(20)The major telecommunications suppliers will be selling similar services
this year without the complications of the NAP's. The NAP's primary function
would allow communications between commercial vendors which would be very
useful, but it is unclear if the telecommunications suppliers will "buy" into
this concept.

[=] © 1994 Peter Langston []