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The 'Congestion Con' Debunked

New road capacity doesn't solve congestion, according to the central argument of a new report by Transportation for America.
March 8, 2020, 7am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Transportation for America's new report, titled "The Congestion Con: How more money and more lanes equals more traffic," examines the big questions raised by congestion, like how strategies designed to reduce congestion fail, and whether congestion reduction should be the goal of transportation planning.

The key problem presented by the report: the history of U.S. road construction hasn't reduced congestion. "We added 30,511 new freeway lane-miles of road in the largest 100 urbanized areas between 1993 and 2017, an increase of 42 percent. That rate of freeway expansion significantly outstripped the 32 percent growth in population in those regions over the same time period. Yet this strategy has utterly failed to “solve” the problem at hand—delay is up in those urbanized areas by a staggering 144 percent," according to the introduction to the report.

The report doesn't just point out the problem, however, it also proposes solutions: "The report also has five simple policy recommendations to make better use of our billions of dollars without pouring yet more into a black hole of congestion 'mitigation.'"

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Published on Thursday, March 5, 2020 in Transportation for America
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