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The Biggest Highway Boondoggles in the United States

Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG have released the fifth edition of its Highway Boondoggles report.
June 18, 2019, 2pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Marquam Bridge
Interstate 5, where it crosses the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, via the Marquam Bridge.
JPL Designs

Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG today released "Highway Boondoggles 5" [pdf] to call attention to the "billions of dollars’ worth of new and expanded highways" proposed in the United States, which "often do little to reduce congestion or address real transportation challenges, while diverting scarce funding from infrastructure repairs and key transportation priorities."

The report also notes that car-based transportation is dangerous and is the nation's leading source of climate changing emissions.

The nine projects making the list for this year's annual report, with more detail included on the website announcing the new report and the report itself:

  • Complete 540, North Carolina ($2.2 billion)
  • North Houston Highway Improvement Project, Texas ($7+ billion)
  • High Desert Freeway, California ($8 billion)
  • I-75 Widening, Michigan ($1 billion)
  • Tri-State Tollway Widening, Illinois ($4 billion)
  • "Connecting Miami" Widening project, Florida ($802 million)
  • I-83 Widening, Pennsylvania ($300 million)
  • I-5 Rose Quarter Widening, Oregon ($450 million)
  • Interstate 81 Widening, Virginia ($2.2 billion)

As the antidote to wasteful and polluting highway projects, the report also suggests several varieties of transportation policies to help reverse the patterns of car dependency, like investing in public transit, adopting "fix-it-first" policies," and collecting and sharing better data and research on travel choices and preferences.

Joe Cortright picked up the news about the I-5 Rose Quarter project making the list. That project has been roundly criticized for questionable math about the project's reported benefits in congestion relief and pollution mitigation.

Full Story:
Published on Tuesday, June 18, 2019 in U.S. PIRG Education Fund
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