I’m finally getting around to reading Tom Vanderbilt’s Traffic (I was busy with my summer re-reading of The Power Broker – my answer to friends who tackled David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest, a book of equal heft). I’m impressed by how succinctly Vanderbilt describes the concept of induced demand. It should be required reading for anyone walking into a public meeting for a major road construction project.
Perhaps elected officials in Leesburg, Virginia could use a quick lesson in the concept that building more roads won’t reduce traffic in the long run, as noted in an article from WTOP on a local road project there, linked on Greater Greater Washington:
Many local leaders say that without an attitude change in Richmond, more highway projects won’t get built, and traffic will only get worse.
Wonks like me end up blowing our collective stacks when we see quotes like these that defy common sense. Unfortunately, those at the top levels of government use their power to satisfy the masses who believe that the only solution to reducing traffic is to build more roads. These elected officials ignore scientific theory that spells out the consequences of new road construction: more congestion and more sprawl. Then, these officials pump millions of dollars into projects that will ultimately result in more traffic.
You could chalk it up to the fact that they’re not traffic engineers, but then again, neither am I.
Photo via WTOP Radio