Study Reveals the Futility of Building Out of Congestion

Even if widening highways enough to relieve all congestion were possible, it would only benefit a very small number of commuters, according to new research.
September 19, 2018, 5am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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"Urban planners should abandon their obsession with fighting congestion in favor of building more housing in traffic-choked cities because people who live in congested urban centers actually have better access to good jobs and economic opportunity," writes Angie Schmitt.

Schmitt arrives to that conclusion from data provided in a study by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, titled "Not so fast? Examining neighborhood-level effects of traffic congestion on job access" and published by the Transportation Research Part A journal.

The study examined the regions around San Francisco and Los Angeles, finding that "commuters who lived near uncongested highways on the fringes of the region couldn’t get to the best jobs faster than people living within the high-traffic areas."

Schmitt provides more detail from the study, while also sending a message to all the state departments of transportation laboring in an effort to built regional automobile transportation systems out of congestion:

Even if congestion could be dramatically improved across the Bay Area, the authors found, the effects on job access would be relatively minor. As frustrating as congestion is to drivers, only 5 to 12 percent of the region’s residents would see an “appreciable” increase in job access if congestion was essentially eliminated, the job access models the team created showed. That, practically speaking, would be impossible or cost prohibitive to accomplish anyway.

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Published on Monday, September 17, 2018 in Streetsblog USA
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