By Dom Nozzi
Can we widen our way out of congestion?
Discussion in the VA Governor’s race in the Fall of 2009 centered on which candidate can find money to reduce congestion. While Virginia does need lots of money to repair and maintain roads, doing so does little, if anything, to reduce congestion. The implication, then, is that new money is needed to widen roads.
However, studies have shown for decades that widening merely attracts new car trips, and the congestion returns almost overnight. Widening also bankrupts government and households, promotes sprawl, deadens town centers, increases car dependence, and degrades safety and quality of life.
No, effectively managing congestion comes from economics, not more asphalt: toll roads, priced parking, pay-at-the-pump car insurance, priced lanes, and gas taxes, to name a few. These tactics put money into government coffers (to improve public transit – particularly trains), reduce sprawl, promote compact development and wean us from excessive car use.
Let’s not be our own worst enemy. The next VA governor needs to leverage economics, not bigger (and ruinous) roads.
Visit my urban design website read more about what I have to say on those topics. You can also schedule me to give a speech in your community about transportation and congestion, land use development and sprawl, and improving quality of life.
Or email me at: dom[AT]walkablestreets.com
My book, The Car is the Enemy of the City (WalkableStreets, 2010), can be purchased here: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/the-car-is-the-enemy-of-the-city/10905607
My book, Road to Ruin, can be purchased here:
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