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Portland is a PR machine for light rail & streetcar

Here are Some Facts About Portland Oregon          

“It must always be remembered how cost-effectiveness works in the public sector: the cost IS the benefit.” - author unknown

You Can Build Your Way Out Of Congestion

A well balanced article on building your way out of congestion from the FHWA

In metropolitan areas, highway facilities are usually built or widened where existing traffic congestion has already decreased travel speeds during certain times of the day. To avoid the congestion, some travelers may have diverted to alternative routes, changed the time they make their trips, switched to different travel modes, traveled to other destinations, or decided not to make a particular trip at all. The new or widened highway facility can carry significantly more traffic before it becomes congested. Many travelers who previously took other routes or traveled at other times may switch to the new facility to take advantage of decreased travel times. The increase in traffic on the new facility resulting from these changes is largely offset by reductions in traffic along parallel routes and at other times of the day. The net effect on region-wide daily vehicle miles of travel (VMT) resulting from these travel behavior changes is minimal.       The article   Newer Link  Archived Copy

Netherlands Institute for Transport Policy Analysis

KiM defines ‘latent demand’ as the increase in car use per day on the entire motorway network (in number of vehicle kilometers travelled), which exists as a consequence of the expansion of that network. The extent of the extra car use that is manifest in capacity expansions differs strongly per expansion. On average, five years after the road network’s capacity is expanded by 10%, one can expect an effect of 3 to 5% extra car use on the network.     English summary  Full document in Dutch: Document  (local)   Summary  (local)

Tampa added lanes and made a 30 minute trip into 10 minutes

“Prior to opening our express lanes, the average 10-mile trip in the morning peak-hour took over thirty  minutes. Since we opened for interim operations, we have achieved a 50% split in the peak-hours between our new Reversible Express Lanes and our existing expressway lanes. This has resulted in a complete balancing of our traffic between our upper and lower lanes with no congestion for any of our customers and an average trip time of 10 minutes for the 10 miles for everyone. The express lanes are already handling enough traffic volume in our morning peak hours to equal having an extra lane constructed on our Interstate into downtown Tampa (about 2,000 per lane per hour).”   Martin Stone, Ph.D., AICP Director of Planning Tampa-Hillsborough County Expressway Authority    http://www.honolulutraffic.com/StoneTampa.pdf

A Statistical Analysis of Induced Travel Effects in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Region

“After accounting for other important determinants of travel and for potential simultaneity bias, the estimated elasticity between VMT and lane-miles is estimated at 0.2 to 0.6. This implies that a 10% increase in lane-mileage can result in anywhere from a 2 to 6% increase in total VMT. A Granger test further indicates that changes in lane-miles precede changes in travel.”

Of course any increase in VMT means that the new road is serving people who need to travel. Unless you believe that people will suddenly drive to work twice each day if there is less congestion.  

http://www.lgc.org/wordpress/docs/freepub/community_design/focus/induced_travel_effects.pdf   (Local)

San Jose road construction cuts rush hour delay in half.

San Jose is living proof that crowded cities can build their way out of congestion: Between 1989 and 1994, the region gained 100,000 new jobs, yet new road construction cut the delays encountered by the average rush-hour driver in half. ...

In 1984, voters in Santa Clara County (of which San Jose is the seat) approved a ten-year half-cent sales tax for new highways. This allowed the construction of several new freeways and the expansion of several more. As a result, the Texas Transportation Institute estimates that the delay facing each rush-hour commuter declined from 100 hours per year in 1989 to just 50 hours in 1994.  From page 2 of ADCsummer07

Utah Reduces Congestion With Increased Road Capacity

From UDOT web site: Since the Parkway opened to traffic it is estimated that traffic on I-15, between the U.S. 89/Legacy Parkway/I-15 interchange in Farmington and the I-215 exit in North Salt Lake, has been consistently reduced as much as 20 percent.  Additionally, the Parkway provides a unique "escape route" from the Salt Lake City area northward, when accidents, construction, or other events significantly slows, or even closes I-15.   Full article from Utah Department of Transportation   Local PDF

What a relief extra lanes on the N.J. Turnpike are

What a difference a few extra lanes make.

The 35-mile stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike from Mansfield in Burlington County to East Brunswick in Middlesex County was dreaded by motorists, who were regularly held up in annoying traffic jams.

But now - a few weeks after the completion of a $2.3 billion widening project - many are singing the turnpike's praises, even as the major artery faces its first big test: the Thanksgiving weekend, with the year's heaviest volume.

The usual stop-and-crawl delays of a half-hour to nearly an hour - especially on the Wednesdays before the holiday - should be history, officials said. No more backups of 11 miles northbound and nine miles southbound - the standard for travel on the day before Thanksgiving. Full article from Philly.com       Local PDF

You Can Build Your Way out of Congestion

Los Angeles is still the most congested urban area in the world, according to the latest INRIX traffic scorecard. However, what is more interesting is that congestion seems to be declining in several fast-growing cities in Texas, thanks to construction of new highways.

Dallas is twice as big as Seattle and Houston is three times as big. The Dallas and Houston urban areas are both growing nearly twice as fast as Seattle’s, but Seattle is concentrating its growth in the city while Dallas and Houston allow more people to settle in the suburbs. INRIX found that congestion was worse in Seattle than either Dallas or Houston, which was a direct result of Washington’s growth-management policies.

Moreover, while INRIX’s congestion index for Seattle — and most other cities — grew worse since last year’s scorecard, the congestion indices for Dallas, Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and El Paso all improved. That’s unusual in the United States, INRIX observes, but cities in Scotland and Germany have also managed to reduce congestion by building new facilities.

San Antonio’s congestion ranking is particularly impressive, as it has about half the congestion of Seattle even though it is more than twice as big. San Antonio is the seventh-largest city in America, while Dallas is ninth and Seattle is twenty-third. But, unlike Seattle or even Houston, San Antonio hasn’t concentrate people or jobs in its downtown area: Seattle and Houston both have almost three times as many downtown jobs as San Antonio, which makes them more congested.

INRIX notes that new construction is not the only way to relieve congestion. Dallas and other Texas cities used managed (i.e., variable priced) lanes. INRIX also mentions ride sharing, dynamic traffic lights, and letting people drive on shoulders during peak hours. While INRIX says “there is no silver bullet that will erase congestion,” that’s only because no city has tried city-wide congestion pricing (as opposed to cordon pricing, which is a very different thing). In any case, the INRIX data put to rest the old claim that cities can’t build their way out of congestion.  http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=14230