Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Population growth at the heart of traffic worsening

By Marian Starkey, Communications Manager

The Texas Transportation Institute released the results of their annual traffic study today with sad news for residents of Metro Washington, DC. Although traffic has eased in almost every other city in the country, it has worsened in the nation’s capital. Los Angeles continues to top the list for worst traffic in the country.

A Washington Post article details the various resources wasted each year by DC area residents while sitting in traffic: time (133 hours), cost ($2.8 billion), and gas (90 million gallons). The article also outlines current and proposed projects intended to alleviate commuters’ frustration: widening highways, placing new office buildings near older communities to the east of the city, adding another line on the Metro system, and increasing tolls.

But not once in the two-page article did the author mention population growth. He didn’t allude to the fact that Arlington and Alexandria grow by 3% and 2.9% respectively each year or that the entire metro area grew by 700,000 people between 1990 and 2000. I’m not saying that we should halt growth in the one city where every American should feel welcome, but I am suggesting that all facets of the story are important and should be discussed.

Once again (and this is really getting tiresome), population is the big elephant in the room.

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