June 11, 2004

MetroWest’s Top Transportation Nightmare: No Public Transit

"Public transportation -- or the lack of it -- topped a list of the region's top 10 traffic nightmares compiled by the 495 Corridor Partnership, much to [Lynn] Sand's surprise," according to an article in today's MetroWest Daily News. " 'I was very surprised,' said Sand, CEO of the Partnership. 'We were amazed, because the culture seems to be, out here, you hop in your car.' "

But many residents apparently drive so much because they HAVE to, not because they always WANT to.

I bet they'd also happily walk some places if given appealing pedestrian environments.

Meanwhile, the article notes, without some action, the roadway situation here is only going to get worse.

"Although it sees its share of traffic tie-ups, the intersection of Rte. 9 and I-495 today functions fairly well for an interchange that sees more than 140,000 cars daily, according to Robert Nagi, a project manager with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc., and one of the main presenters of the top 10 today. But few commuters may know of the 3 million square feet of office space waiting in the wings, Nagi said this week."

Yet simply building more or wider roads is unlikely to deal with the mess. The book Suburban Nation points out that "building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, it actually increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.

“The phenomenon has been well documented … increased traffic capacity causes people to drive more – a lot more.” (Sound unbelievable? Please see my more detailed post for the book's evidence (or even better, read the book. It's great.)

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