AUSTIN Texas (Reuters). – The U.S. policy of building highways to relieve congestion is ill-conceived and leads to more traffic and pollution.
Colorado-based RMI, Transportation for America and the National Resource Defense Council, (NRDC), released an online calculator on Thursday to illustrate the detrimental effects of highway constructions across the United States.
According to the groups, decades-long investments in infrastructure highways have not provided much relief. In fact, they eventually led to more vehicles filling up in an phenomenon called “induced demand.”
“Road-expansion projects have not delivered the promised benefits. The evidence actually shows they increase traffic and pollution,” explained Ben Holland from RMI’s Urban Transformation Program.
U.S. officials plan to expand highways. $110 billion would make up the bulk of a federal transportation program that is proposed to cost $550 billion. It will be used for funding infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, and other major infrastructure. It is part of the $1 billion bipartisan infrastructure agreement that Congress has stalled.
Texas’ I-35, the most ambitious planned highway extension, is located in Austin. There, $7.5 billion of federal and state funds will be used to expand and widen it by multiple lanes as well as build tunnels that allow for more lanes.
Data from transportation analytics firm Wejo revealed that the highway ranks among the worst in traffic congestion in America, with commuters arriving as far away as Dallas and Houston.
Graphic: Austin rush onto I-35 dominated by downtown traffic – https://graphics.reuters.com/USA-INFRASTRUCTURE/HIGHWAYS/zdpxoraayvx/chart.png
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT), says that the Texas Department of Transportation’s expansion is needed because the existing highway is not adequate to accommodate Austin’s growing population.
Tucker Ferguson, TxDOT Austin District Engineer said that “with the expansion more traffic can get back onto the interstate from congested cities streets.”
However, environmental groups believe that by expanding the greenhouses to the extent proposed, it will produce a cumulative 2,000,000-3,000,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases in 2050. This is equivalent to adding 32,500 passenger cars annually.
Carter Rubin, NRDC’s transportation strategist, stated that cities and states should provide more opportunities for residents to cycle, walk, and ride public transit if they want to reduce smog and get them out of congestion.
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