Induced Demand Be Damned: Missouri Governor Proposes I-70 Expansion

Highway widenings still attract support from both sides of the political aisle, despite the inadequacies of the approach in solving the problems it intends to solve.

Read Time: 1 minute

January 23, 2023, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

An image taken from the point of view of a driver on a mostly empty freeway, with large overpasses overhead.

Arina P Habich / Shutterstock

Missouri Governor Mike Parson proposed a widening of Interstate 70 near Kansas City for an estimated cost of $859 million during a recent State of the State address. As reported by Jonathan Shorman and Kacen Bayless for the Kansas City Star, the proposal drew applause from both sides of the political aisle in the Missouri State Legislature.

“Politicians across the political spectrum have long been drawn to highway expansions, with orange cones and fresh asphalt a time-tested way to demonstrate they can deliver for constituents,” write Shorman and Bayless.

The article explores the idea that the project will not deliver for constituents as promised, citing the authority of Jonathan Levine, a professor of urban and regional planning at the University of Michigan, who explains the concept of induced demand—that widening roads will encourage more driving and quickly overwhelm the added capacity of the road.

Not everyone in Kansas City thinks widening I-70 would be a good idea. In 2017, local writer Eric Bunch argued for removing a section of I-70 where it passes through downtown Kansas City altogether.

Friday, January 20, 2023 in The Kansas City Star

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