The inimitable Atrios, blogging from my birthplace of Philadelphia, posts this tidbit of wisdom on the future of highway construction:
Actually heard a bit of sense from a ‘woman on the street’ interview about possibly tolling 422, a highway in the Western burbs of the urban hellhole which at one end connects up with the Schuylkill Expressway, the only urban highway entering the city from that direction. And, as she said, even if they widen 422 (a possible use of toll money), it won’t matter all that much because the Schuylkill is basically 2 lanes in each direction and there isn’t a practical way to widen it even if billions were available.
There’s significant travel along that road which is intra-suburban, and not about connecting up to drive into the city, but my main point is that there will not be any highway improvements into Philadelphia basically ever again.
This reminds me of the debate over the new 520 floating bridge, where advocates for adding more lanes to relieve congestion on the bridge, basically ignore that I-5 can barely handle the 520 traffic it already receives. If there’s no way to widen I-5 through Seattle, there’s really no reason to widen the highways feeding it.
In Seattle, like Philadelphia, we’ll basically never expand highway capacity into the downtown, ever again. So how will we accommodate the transportation needs of all those people expected to move here?
I think we all know the answer.