MNDOT’s secret to reining in highway construction costs: Photoshop

I was just reading, in the StarTribune online edition, an article about the lane addition project that was recently completed on Hwy. 100 in St. Louis Park.

The article includes a map and “Before” and “Now” photos, which I found very interesting. Especially when I noticed that the exact same cars were in both pictures, just in slightly different positions (all, that is, except for the red truck that appears to have been parked on the overpass for the entire duration of the construction project).

Imagine the coincidence, taking pictures both before and after the project, and timing it perfectly that the same cars would be traveling that stretch. Man, some people’s daily routines really are rigid! (Also, the weather was exactly the same, the photo was taken at the same time of day, the autumn leaves on the trees were at the same stage of coloration, etc.)

Of course, I think what’s really going on here is that the “Now” photo is actually a Photoshop mock-up produced by MNDOT during the proposal phase of the project. Anyone with an eye for Photoshop techniques can clearly see what’s been done to the photo. Still, it’s rather amusing that the Strib — intentionally or not — is passing this off as an actual photo of the road as it appears today.

Addendum (October 27, 2006; 9:15 PM): I figure since I took this opportunity to call attention to the Strib’s gaffe, I also owe it to them to share with my reader [sic] the fact that I also emailed the Strib about this, and in less than 12 hours I’ve received two emails from them — including one from the Director of Photography — apologizing for the mistake, and they say they’ll be posting a correction tomorrow. (Therefore, I’ll also refrain from capturing the erroneous version to post here.)

Addendum (November 7, 2006; 11:35 PM): Since I’m not a crackpot, I will not be pursuing this any further. However, I feel it’s worth at least noting here that I’ve just checked the page and no correction was ever made.