Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait?Abstract:
Road projects are designed to ease traffic congestion by widening or otherwise expanding the capacity of existing roads. But ironically, the construction projects themselves can create significant congestion and delay. Transportation officials rarely consider the impact of these delays when they promote the congestion-relieving benefits of a new road. To see if these delays ultimately result in better commutes for those who regularly use the roads, STPP conducted case studies of road expansion projects now underway around the nation. Results from these case studies indicate that road expansion projects often deliver scant time savings to people who use the road everyday, while allowing and even stimulating significantly more traffic once the construction project is completed. In many cases driver delays due to construction are so long, and the time savings predicted from the finished project so minor, that it can take years for commuters to break even and begin to make up the time they lost during construction.