congestion solution con
The congestion solution con

A new US report into congestion indicates that the billion dollar projects building new roads, bridges and freeways to solve traffic congestion are failing.

Not only has the road expansion boom not fixed congestion, it seems to be making it worse.

Although spending on roads is substantial, considerably outstripping population growth, congestion is growing much faster.

The findings are in a study by Smart Growth America and Transport for America: The Congestion Con: How more lanes and more money equals more traffic.

"We have spent decades and hundreds of billions of dollars on highways in the name of beating back congestion, yet in all of the 100 most populous urbanized areas examined in the report, congestion has gotten worse as a result,” the report says.

"We are spending billions to widen roads and seeing unimpressive, unpredictable results in return.”

In 100 urbanized areas studied, congestion grew by a 144 percent, far outpacing population growth.

One reason was that individuals had increased the annual distance they travel by about 20 per cent in recent decades.

"This increase in driving is partially due to how we have allowed these urbanized areas to grow: letting development sprawl, creating greater distance between housing and other destinations, and forcing people to take longer and longer trips on a handful of regional highways to fulfill daily needs,” the report says.

"We should be addressing those sources of congestion, but instead, we accept more driving and more traffic as unavoidable outcomes that we must address through costly highway expansion.

“This is a significantly more expensive and less effective approach than reducing the need to drive or length of trips.

"And unfortunately, spending billions to expand highways can actually make congestion worse by encouraging people to drive more than they otherwise would, a counter-intuitive but well-documented phenomenon known as induced demand.

"Eliminating congestion is also simply the wrong goal. While severe congestion can have real negative impacts, congestion is also generally a symptom of a successful, vibrant economy—a sign of a place people want to be. Instead, we should be focused on providing and improving access.

"The core purpose of transportation infrastructure is to provide access to work, education, healthcare, groceries, recreation, and all other daily needs."


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