Institution critical of four-pronged approach to alleviating congestion

News AASHTO Journal March 19, 2004
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Regions suffering from traffic congestion can employ a four-pronged approach to alleviating those pressures, but a Brookings In

Regions suffering from traffic congestion can employ a four-pronged approach to alleviating those pressures, but a Brookings Institution report contends that three of those possibilities have little support.


Anthony Downs, a senior fellow in economic studies at the institution and long-time scold of congestion mitigation plans, identifies the following solutions as "politically impractical or physically and financially possible" in the U.S.: charging peak-hour tolls, enormous expansion of road capacity and increased public transportation as an alternative to cars.


Living with congestion so people will alter their lifestyles is the only viable solution to peak-hour congestion, he writes.


Possible options Downs cites include high-occupancy toll lanes, quicker traffic accident clearing response, adding peripheral roads in growing areas and ramp metering. Intelligent transportation systems also can play a role in alleviating traffic congestion through electronic coordination of control devices, message centers and broadcasts.


Downs further suggests that employers now subsidizing parking instead encourage employees to take public transit and give metropolitan planning authorities greater transportation responsibilities. He further suggests raising gasoline taxes, restricting low-density peripheral development and clustering high-density communities around transit stations.


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