Expanding highways and building more roads actually makes traffic worse. More roads, more expenses, more congestion, revealed a 2020 report, “Congestion Con”, by Transportation for America.
Spending billions to expand highways can actually make congestion worse by encouraging people to drive more than they otherwise would, a counterintuitive but well-documented phenomenon known as induced demand, the report explained.
The same goes for roads. “When new roads are opened it temporarily increases the supply of road space and traffic decreases. Traffic is now slightly better, people get back in their cars, resulting in congestion returning to the same level as before and sometimes worse,” says James Brownlie, senior transport engineer at Wallbridge Gilbert Aztec.
As aptly asked by Strong Towns in a recent Twitter post, “The real question is: how do we want our congestion? Do we want it in two lanes, four lanes, eight lanes, or more?”