Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Network Roundup

Major Road Builder Argues for Road-Pricing, Against More Asphalt

10:55 AM EDT on August 23, 2013

The primary theme of U.S. transportation policy since the mid-20th century hasn't been accessibility, public health, equality, or even efficiency. Primarily we've spent billions of dollars trying fruitlessly to eliminate congestion by building more roads.

false

It has become clear that there are all kinds of problems with having motorist throughput as the highest priority of your transportation system. James Bruckbauer at Michigan Land Use Institute says even big road builders are acknowledging the futility. Check out this passage he found in a publication by HNTB, one of the nation's largest road builders:

Here’s an excerpt from their latest newsletter (page 23):

“Conventional wisdom suggests that we simply need to build more capacity. Adding lanes, however, will never fully solve the congestion problem. When new general-purpose lanes are built, they immediately fill up. They may help compress rush hours slightly, but the congestion problem remains.”

The author also argues that, rather than build new roads, planners should focus on commuters traveling at peak times:

“Further, because most cities experience gridlock during rush hours, rather than all day, priced managed lanes address specific congestion problems without saddling the city with overbuilt infrastructure that gets limited use most of the day.”

The company argues for congestion pricing and price-managed lanes. Those are fees charged to motorists for roadway use, like a toll road.

Still, his point is clear: We can’t build our way out of congestion. In fact, every 10 percent increase in road space generates a 10 percent increase in traffic within several years.

Interesting to see a road building company admit what the states of Wisconsin and Texas, and even FHWA to some extent, continue to deny.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Active Trans writes about a condo complex in Chicago that has filed a suit claiming Divvy bike share stations are uglier than parked cars. Denver Urbanism shares some hard data showing cyclists follow the rules better when there's better infrastructure in place. And A View from the Cycle Path says London's children suffer from the same problems American children do: too much chauffeuring, too little activity.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Talking Headways Podcast: The Annual Yonah Freemark Show, Part II

This week, let's talk about transit funding in general and the Roosevelt Boulevard subway in Philadelphia, specifically.

February 22, 2024

State DOTs Spend Even More Money on Highway Expansions Than We Thought

Advocates knew states would go on a highway widening binge when the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed — but they didn't know it would be quite this bad.

February 22, 2024

Thursday’s Headlines Breathe Freely

If every driver started buying electric vehicles powered by clean energy, it would prevent millions of respiratory illnesses. But the market has slowed down significantly.

February 22, 2024

Understanding the Car-Dominated Past Can Lead to a Better Future

And success will mean nothing less than a better life for all groups and communities.

February 22, 2024
See all posts