Skip to comments.Fewer roads for more people
Posted on 05/29/2005 9:23:56 PM PDT by Crackingham
What does Beijing have in common with Portland, Oregon? Urban congestion. It's much worse in Beijing, but Portland's traffic congestion isn't getting any better. Further, both cities' traffic is worsened by bad government. In Beijing, the problem is corruption, with bureaucrats skimming millions from funds meant for roads. In Portland, the problem is ideology.
Nearly every former bicyclist in Beijing knows that one important solution to traffic congestion is more roads. In Portland, on the other hand, lots of influential people think roads are the wrong way to go. Oregon politicians want, instead, to go back to what Beijing once was, a centralized city with buses and bikes and pedestrians. They see cars and more roads and decentralized sprawl as the enemy.
Fortunately, several Oregon groups are fighting the nonsense that's making Oregon less and less livable and more and more expensive. Quoting a recently released study, Cascade Policy Institute President John A. Charles, Jr., sets the record straight: "Urban planners have long claimed that you 'can't build your way out of congestion,' but the data clearly show that new roads make a difference."
The new study, Charles explains, "divided cities into three categories: those with low, medium and high levels of road-building relative to increases in daily miles traveled. Only the cities that aggressively built roads during the past 20 years were able to keep congestion levels down." Portland wasn't one of those cities.
The study? The Texas Transportation Institute's 2005 Urban Mobility Study. The report's scope is national, but it singles out Portland. Figured in terms of the additional time traveled during peak hours, traffic in "Portland grew faster from 1982 to 2003 than it has for the majority of the other areas" in the city's size category. Traffic congestion in Portland has put the city in the Big Leagues.
Charles, who works in Portland, would like to see the city's traffic problem cut down to size. He emphasizes the study's conclusion that "Roads are part of the solution" and not the living embodiment of evil. The report reminds the reader that "More than 90 percent of urban peak-period person travel is on roads, and a significant amount of freight moves on roads." Charles adds a relevant local fact: "Portland public officials have proudly limited new highway supply ever since I-205 opened 25 years ago." So, in this bureaucratic environment, of course Portland's congestion has increased.
Charles also argues that the planners' favorite solution siphoning off public funds from road-building to the building of new light rail lines will do little to solve traffic congestion. It's simply the case that roads can handle a lot more people than rails can.
The roads that they had 20 years ago are perfectly fine...except for the small matter of 2 million immigrants every year. This country's disastrous immigration program has created deadly congestion in every nook and cranny -- even areas that were once simple and rural have ballooned grossly.
You can't "build your way out of congestion," but you CAN deport your way out of congestion.
Most west coasters think light rail sucks like a Hoover.
Most west coast poiticians think light rail is politically correct.
Stop polution is the cry for light rails. I think they are realizing that rails and busses aren't what we want so now they are working on polution free auto fuels.
What "we" want is the last thing they are going to seriously work on. More often, they try to work on changing our minds to meet their requirements.
Building highways with intentional bottlenecks is one popular method of convincing people that public transportation is necessary.
Light rail works great if you have very high population density and the trains run above or below traffic. Cities like Tokyo, New York or London would be in big trouble without it.
We recently visited a small town that we haven't been to in over 10 years. We didn't recognize it. Traffic lights, crowded streets and stores, and even the people that now lived there were much less friendly. It was a total change for the worse.
A jolting 400 hundred mile drive on I-40 this weekend prompted wife's reaction to all the warning signs, "rough roads, yeah, our tax dollars not at work"
Nobody has money for roads and infrastructure. Politicians are too busy funneling their money into schools and social programs. You can't have business without good roads, and you can't get more piles of money without business. Duh-duh-duh.
I am familiar with new light rail systems in two cities. San Jose, CA and Portland, OR. First, neither one has anywhere near the population density of Tokyo, New York, or London. The trains are empty most of the time.
Secondly, the trains run at grade level. There are accidents with cars, and the trains tie up traffic, an effect the article did not mention, but which is very detrimental.
The incredible costs of these systems have produced nothing but more traffic congestion. Less than 1/3 the money spent, if directed toward new traffic lanes, would have made life much easier. But, this is not the politically correct solution.
I've seen it up close working with a media contractor for them.
Gobbels could learn from them.
I have lived in Japan though and the light rail system there is superb. There are three things that it has going for it there that are not present on any west coast mass transit system. In Tokyo the train is faster, cheaper and safer than going by car so people use it. Here in the states it is none of those things and because of that light rail will continue to be a dismal failure most everywhere it is tried.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.