In a recent study on traffic congestion, the Los Angeles-based Reason Foundation predicted that 104,000 more lane-miles of capacity would have to be added to the nation’s freeways over the next 25 years. American City & County asked readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter if the solution to traffic congestion is building more roads, or increasing public transportation, or both.
“The Reason Foundation has NEVER been a big supporter of expanded transit options, but in many cases that is the only solution to getting people around and avoiding gridlock. This is even more evident here in Southern California where we have no more land to expand freeway lanes or widen streets without serious land use impacts and loss or relocation of homes and businesses. But getting people out of their cars and onto public transit means you have to have a system that is fast, convenient and efficient. Los Angeles actually [is working] on a [viable] mass transit system. But the rest of the Southern California region will end up spending years to try to catch up and is headed for gridlock in the next few decades if investments are not made in improved transit options, not just concrete and freeway lanes.”
— Tim Keenan, government affairs consultant, Cypress, Calif.
“Traffic engineers in our area seem to universally agree that it is impossible to build your way out of congestion in an economically viable region. And yet, we see highways widened and new roads built. If adding more lanes is truly the answer, why does Los Angeles still have congestion? The answer must lie in increasing travel options by building efficient and cost-effective mass transit and facilitating non-motorized travel.”
— John Hieftje, mayor, Ann Arbor, Mich.
“The answer is both. However, before we can consider which road projects need to be built, we need to increase the accessibility to transit since funding is woefully behind that of roads. Once we get a decent transit system in place, then we can determine which roads need to be improved or built. Doing both now could result in spending on needless road improvement or building.”
— Art Sheldon, chairman, Gwinnett County, Ga., Transit Advisory Board