The Road Widening Myth
Bill Hocker | Dec 2, 2015
George Caloyannidis has sent along two articles about the adverse impacts of highway widenings made to relieve traffic congestion (which he forwarded to County Planning Director John McDowell as well):
Katy Fwy Houston
Increasing Highway Capacity Unlikely to Relieve Traffic Congestion
California's DOT Admits that More Roads Mean More Traffic
As we who have lived in California over the last half century know all too well, road widenings, far from relieving congestion, induce more traffic along the route and encourage further development, actually equaling or increasing the congestion they were touted to reduce. In many cases the widened route, particularly as it goes from a two lane to a 4 lane road, becomes a preferred alternative to previous routes again spurring development in areas that were not receiving it before.
This process is already happening along the Hwy 12 corridor with the widening of the route through Jameson Canyon. It is only a matter of time before Hwy 12 becomes a 4 lane freeway across the entire county. Large projects along the route, like Jamieson Ranch and now Hudson Ranch will continue to come to join Domaine Carneros, the Carneros Inn and others in creating a level of freeway accessible mega-tourism to rival the Hwy 29 crush up valley. (Were it to reduce tourism up valley, which it will not, this might be in fact a reasonable way to accommodate tourism expansion). The freeway will be built, no doubt, in response to the enormous congestion the widening has created at the Jameson/29 junction (see the photo at the top of the page) But that congestion will only worsen as the airport and AmCan industrial zones continue to be built out and more development comes to Napa and Sonoma taking advantage of the widened access.
One can only be cynical of the congestion relief excuse, knowing that the enormous lobbying and expenditure necessary for major road projects is underpinned by a development industry that sees massive public road expenditure as the first step necessary in their future development plans (and profits).
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