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9/23/1999
Road Work Ahead: Press Release

Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait? Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait?

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Report Finds Some Road Construction Projects Not Worth the Wait

Construction delays can erase future time savings

A new report finds that motorists can lose more time in road construction delays than they will save in years of driving on the newly "improved" road. The national report, Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait? by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, is being released Thursday and uses case studies to examine whether road expansion projects are ultimately worth the wait for drivers.

The study found that construction delays can be so long, and the time savings from the expanded road so small, that it can take years for commuters to break even. In the case of the Springfield Interchange reconstruction outside of Washington DC, commuters are projected to never make up the time that they will lose during the eight years of construction. Drivers now sitting through the construction of I-15 in Salt Lake City are not expected to break even on their time investment until 2010, eight years after the project is completed.

"These case studies show that the pain of expanding roads may not be matched by a gain in commuting time," says STPP Executive Director Roy Kienitz. "Communities considering expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient construction projects should think long and hard about whether more roads are really the answer to their congestion problems."

The report says traditional transportation planning leaves the perspective of individual drivers out of the road building equation. As a result, projects may meet the goal of increasing the number of cars on the road while doing little to improve the commute of those driving now.

In addition to the delays caused by road widening projects, the additional highway space also can attract more drivers, a phenomenon known as "induced travel." This can reduce any time saving benefits even further. In one of the case studies, I-15 in Utah, STPP found that in just ten years such extra traffic could slow rush-hour travel to pre-construction speeds.

"This report shows the drawbacks of using road construction as the only solution to easing congestion." says Kienitz. "Our transportation officials should first try fighting congestion in ways that are less expensive, just as effective, and help drivers right now. " STPP suggests clearing accidents more quickly, increasing train and bus service, and building communities so people can drive less.

The STPP report recommends that transportation officials tell citizens how road building plans will affect their commute, and that construction delays be taken into account in calculating the benefits of roads. It also suggests methods to reduce congestion delays. The report includes case studies of road projects in Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey, and Utah.

The full report will be available at http://www.transact.org/.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project is a broad coalition of national and local groups working for a more balanced transportation system.

For additional information or to arrange an interview, please call Barbara McCann or Michelle Garland at (202) 466-2636.

Back to Table of Contents

Report Finds Some Road Construction Projects Not Worth the Wait

Construction delays can erase future time savings

A new report finds that motorists can lose more time in road construction delays than they will save in years of driving on the newly "improved" road. The national report, Road Work Ahead: Is Construction Worth the Wait? by the Surface Transportation Policy Project, is being released Thursday and uses case studies to examine whether road expansion projects are ultimately worth the wait for drivers.

The study found that construction delays can be so long, and the time savings from the expanded road so small, that it can take years for commuters to break even. In the case of the Springfield Interchange reconstruction outside of Washington DC, commuters are projected to never make up the time that they will lose during the eight years of construction. Drivers now sitting through the construction of I-15 in Salt Lake City are not expected to break even on their time investment until 2010, eight years after the project is completed.

"These case studies show that the pain of expanding roads may not be matched by a gain in commuting time," says STPP Executive Director Roy Kienitz. "Communities considering expensive, time-consuming and inconvenient construction projects should think long and hard about whether more roads are really the answer to their congestion problems."

The report says traditional transportation planning leaves the perspective of individual drivers out of the road building equation. As a result, projects may meet the goal of increasing the number of cars on the road while doing little to improve the commute of those driving now.

In addition to the delays caused by road widening projects, the additional highway space also can attract more drivers, a phenomenon known as "induced travel." This can reduce any time saving benefits even further. In one of the case studies, I-15 in Utah, STPP found that in just ten years such extra traffic could slow rush-hour travel to pre-construction speeds.

"This report shows the drawbacks of using road construction as the only solution to easing congestion." says Kienitz. "Our transportation officials should first try fighting congestion in ways that are less expensive, just as effective, and help drivers right now. " STPP suggests clearing accidents more quickly, increasing train and bus service, and building communities so people can drive less.

The STPP report recommends that transportation officials tell citizens how road building plans will affect their commute, and that construction delays be taken into account in calculating the benefits of roads. It also suggests methods to reduce congestion delays. The report includes case studies of road projects in Tennessee, Virginia, New Jersey, and Utah.

The full report will be available at http://www.transact.org/.

The Surface Transportation Policy Project is a broad coalition of national and local groups working for a more balanced transportation system.

For additional information or to arrange an interview, please call Barbara McCann or Michelle Garland at (202) 466-2636.


The Surface Transportation Policy Project is a nationwide network of more than 800 organizations, including planners, community development organizations, and advocacy groups, devoted to improving the nationís transportation system.

Copyright © 1996-2014, Surface Transportation Policy Project
1707 L St., NW Suite 1050, Washington, DC 20036 
202-466-2636 (fax 202-466-2247)
stpp@transact.org - www.transact.org