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Connecticut Gov. Malloy Picks Sides in the Highway Widening Debate
Heather Brandon reports that Connecticut Governor Dan Malloy has hit the road to stump for a plan to add lanes to part of I-84 and the length of I-95 in the state.
A soundbite from Gov. Malloy quoted in full in the article claims a dramatic multiplier effect from the highway widening projects: "Adding travel lanes in both directions on I-95 from Greenwich to North Stonington, and on I-84 between the areas of Waterbury and Danbury, would provide economic benefits to our state of nearly 40 billion dollars -- about four times the cost of widening those two highways," Gov. Malloy said. Unmentioned are the likely effects of ongoing maintenance costs or long-term externalities like pollution on the size of that multiplier.
The article begins with an interesting take on induced demand (in this case defined as "a term economists use to describe how a bigger supply of a good thing can make people want more of it"), which says that Gov. Malloy is "banking" on induced demand rather than neglecting to consider the long-term effects of induced demand. Gov. Malloy himself implies the latter: his second talking point in favor of widening the highways is as a congestion reduction measure. Eventually, Brandon quotes Charles Marohn, founder of Strong Towns, to counter that argument, and explain the possible futility of the project as a congestion reduction measure.
In an earlier article, Joseph Cutrufo described a double standard afforded highway widening projects by the media.