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Fixing America’s Freeways

The private sector is reinventing our expressways, one lane at a time:

Why does congestion keep getting worse, and what can be done about it? While there is no single answer to either question, a principal reason for ever worse congestion is that the demand for road space (especially on urban freeways) greatly exceeds the supply. That’s because after the initial burst of freeway building in the 1960s and ’70s, additions to freeways slowed way down while population and economic growth continued apace. Some analysts liken the result to cramming 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack.

Yet because the notion that “we can’t build our way out of congestion” is widely accepted, the long-range transportation plans of most large metro areas these days are premised not on making it easier for commuters to engage in their demonstrated preference but rather on the vain hope of “getting people out of their cars.”

For most people, giving up the flexibility of having a car handy is a very serious decrease in their standard of living.  That’s why figuring out how to free up traffic flow is so important.

Posted in Economics, Politics.

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