Today’s welcome vote on I-270 capacity (with a note on “induced demand”)

Maybe Frederick and upper Montgomery commuters won’t have to wait in endless traffic on I-270 for the next 20 years, with today’s favorable vote from Gov. Larry Hogan and Comptroller Peter Franchot to proceed with a public-private partnership.

Virginia got a head start on these ideas and polls indicate most users take a positive view of the road improvements there, toll options and all. Existing law forbids reductions in current free lanes.

By the way, watch out for misuse of the transportation concept of induced demand. In proper context, it’s an uncontroversial concept: planners should be aware that expanding a highway can increase demand (whether by stimulating more trips from existing users or encouraging development) which means that congestion will not be relieved by as much as a static analysis of current vehicle flow per minute would suggest. That’s all it says. It does not, by itself, predict that the induced demand will be so big as to absorb all the new road capacity. If it always did that, there would be no such thing as unclogged newer thoroughfares.

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1 Comment

Filed under Policy

One response to “Today’s welcome vote on I-270 capacity (with a note on “induced demand”)

  1. Milt F

    Thanks for all your efforts, Walter. Also, with ‘induced demand’, it is more people living their lives. Government should HELP people get where they want to go (in the method they prefer). If there is more demand on the roads, it means there are more people doing what they want in their lives. They are visiting their grandmothers, they are living in the houses their families prefer, they are going to a better doctor, they are going to their favorite restaurants, they are meeting friends or they are going to a better job a little farther away. It is the pursuit of happiness. I don’t understand the logic of politicians not allowing their citizens to do this.

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