Study: Wider lanes don’t reduce congestion

March 12, 2020

A new study has found that expanding the number of lanes on a roadway does not necessarily reduce traffic congestion.

The Transportation for America organization looked at 100 urbanized areas across the U.S., including Indianapolis, and found that although the number of new freeway lane miles has increased by 42% since 1993, the total annual hours spent in traffic has increased by 144%.

The report authors said they found no evidence that adding freeways at a rate faster than population growth prevents congestion. Instead, the report shows that adding new road capacity mostly results in a higher growth in delay.

According to the study, the population of the Indianapolis area has grown 67% since 1993. Freeway lane miles have grown 48%, but the time drivers spent driving in congestion has increased 195%.

The study’s authors recommend that instead of just adding more miles of freeway, the traditional response to congestion and population growth, transportation agencies should study how to best improve accessibility into an area.

The authors also said that transportation agencies should stop favoring new roads over maintaining older roads, make short trips walkable by making them safer, consider asking the population to cover more of the cost of transportation infrastructure and redevelop existing urban areas to reduce the urban sprawl the necessitates commutes.

You can read the study here.

Study: Wider lanes don’t reduce congestion