A recent study of 100 US cities found that — between 1993 to 2017 — billions were spent to expand highway capacities by 42% but, instead of reducing congestion, traffic delays actual went up 144%!
It is Parkinson's Law: Work expands to fit the time available. So if you have 5 minutes to write a letter you will do it in 5 minutes. If you have all day to do it than it can easily take you hours to get around to this task.
It is the same with money; when you make more you find more things to spend it on. And also this is how bureaucracies work as they expand to fit their budgets, with more officials around to find work rather than those who were present being more efficient.
There are many such examples. Create a "war on drugs" and you will find more drugs to "fight" (never mind that the issue is demand, not supply). So it's no surprise that more roads attract more cars, which in turn require more people to deal with an increasingly unpleasant situation that we have largely created for ourselves.
Since 2000 China (being saner than America) has built some 40,000 miles of high speed rail, while America hasn't been able to agree to build 400 miles from L.A. to San Francisco.
America's entrenched "conservatism" needs to be called out for what it is, nothing but an addiction to the status quo and the past.
While America is busy banning books Saudi Arabia is building an unprecedented "floating city" called Oxagon to be powered 100% by green hydrogen.
Once upon a time America did big stuff like transcontinental railroads, Panama canals, and interstate highways. Now America's #1 industry is manufacturing political nonsense. America is no longer able to set goals for itself, and every book on business management will tell you that without setting goals you don't know where you're going or why. The Republican Party used to claim to by "the business party," now nothing but the "banning stuff party."
I'm not surprised. Long time ago, when involved in a local road issue, I learned that *narrowing* roads decreases traffic accidents and fatalities. IIRC *widening* them led to increased speed and more accidents. Maybe the congestion helps mitigate this effect? As long as it doesn't lead to road rage . . .
We recently went up to Portland for a concert and met with a local who took us on a driving tour and showed us how to avoid the freeway to get across the city and around.
By knowing this we have a much better understanding of how to use the myriad of bridges and arterial roads.
Having lived on 3 continents I find that drivers in Oregon seem to be more polite on I-5 in Portland They slow down to let people into the right lane Now we stay to far left and move over only when it’s time to exit.
Unfortunately the US cities lack the alternate light rail infrastructure and they LOVE their cars. I love the transit system within Eugene even though it was confusing when I first moved here.
Given the recent SCOTUS ruling effectively disarming of the EPA, and by extension other executive agencies, does it seem likely that, the data presented to the contrary, more of the same mindless "solutions" will keep on keeping on?
When faced with seemingly intractable issues such as gun violence, the inane response is the "real" problem is a mental health one. Assuming the common sense description of insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results, is it unreasonable to believe that the "mental health crisis" is more than a condition of individuals, but of the system as a whole.
I worked for the Division of Highways in Calfornia in the 1970's and the engineers used "trip generators" to determine the needed traffic capacity for a freeway. Schools, parks, shopping centers, and businesses had trip generation values. I told them that they were ignoring the number one traffic generator, the new freeway. With a new freeway that allowed for faster driving speeds drivers would alter their route to this freeway and so increase the trafffic. They refused to consider this as it was not inside their tight mental box.
When the Hollywood Freeway was extended the traffic engineers stated that it had enough capacity for the next 10 years. After one year it was at 100% of it capacity. One would have thought that would be a wakeup call but engineers are the best at institutional insanity and in repeating the same process and expecting different results.
Traffic was serious problem for American cities in the late 1800's and the solution was electric street cars to take horse drawn carriages and buses off the streets. After World War II a company formed by GM, Firestone Tire, and Standard Oil, bought up all the trolley car lines and then ripped up the tracks and burned the street cars. It reduced traffic movement efficiency and increased travel times and travel costs for people but it also greatly increased sales and profits for these companies.
In California the transportation planning group has always been comprised of people whos work for real estate, auto, heavy construction, and similar businesses. There is no one who represents the general public.
Unfortunately when the cabal killed streetcars (and 13 cities that proposed light rail projects in 2022 had them strongly opposed by the oil companies) the result was wider residential lots to accommodate garages for automobiles and so the residents have to walk 50% further to get to a bus stop and troller car lines lack the density to be successful. To fix the problem infilling of surburbia needs to take place. California passed legislation that forces cities to allow ADUs or additional dwelling units as a partical fix to the low housing density that has driven up rents in the state. This is a good first step to deal with a very bad situation.
This, ending of congestion would be great too, when you have bike lanes. Again let’s put the money into the people who live in the community. Tag, we are it. Happy Memorial Day Thom. In remembrance of their sacrifice.
Over population and increased largely since 1993, I don't blame people from other states that move to Oregon as they dastardly backward states experiencing all the problems that republicons have created.
Timely (as always)!
The Rocky Mountain Institute work also covered the issues with I-70 through the Colorado mountains. More traffic on the road is very bad for the fragile Alpine environment, not just in terms of air pollution but also water pollution from the chemicals used in Winter for snow removal and melting. Most extra lanes in Colorado have had a tolling element, which does provide revenue but never addresses congestion as promised.
For expanding bicycle use, it is not enough to just say we need more. Local and state governments must be required to include analysis of bicycle networks in master plans, zoning and planning reviews, road reconstructions, and any lane expansion. The place to lobby for this is generally at the state legislature and sometimes with receptive local governments. The Mineta Institute at San Jose State has completed some excellent work in the area. https://transweb.sjsu.edu/research/Overview-System-Design-Issues-Related-Safety-Aspects-Bicycle-Infrastructure
How would the results of that study change due to the telecommuting resulting from the pandemic? Will the shift from in-person work and commuting to remote work continue indefinitely?
I'd also like to see a study of long distance travel/congestion on the one hand and whether or not a modal shift away from long haul trucking to rail, conventional or fully electrified, would decrease cross country congestion as well as emissions? Or would it increase ground travel by autos vs. air travel, for example, and thus do little or nothing to reduce rural highway congestion? Would expansion of I-5 in the hills between Roseburg and Medford or further south through the Siskiyou Mountains reduce congestion there? Would a modal shift away from trucking, by itself, reduce or merely change the composition of congestion through there?
IOW do any efforts to ease congestion actually ease congestion anywhere? I see localized studies of traffic congestion and accidents on conventional highways. But are there any valid studies about long distance, rural congestion on interstates?
I live in Erie, PA. We are a small city - <100,000 in population - but we enjoy a lively tourist trade with our beaches on Presque Isle and all the winter sports around us. We also are 2 hours or less from 3 major cities with major league sports teams and many cultural and entertainment opportunities for us to enjoy. (Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Buffalo) We are also 2 hour away from Canada and we love being able to go there again.
We were so excited when we heard that high speed rail lines were going to be going through Erie toward Chicago and then would go south to Pittsburgh. That was more than 20 years ago. I would much rather take a train than drive in a city I’m not familiar with! Why can’t we be more like Europe?