Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Burying the lede about Atlanta congestion

According to the Alive 11 News headline, "Georgia DOT eyes tunnel, double-deck for Downtown Connector",
The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to examine a wide variety of options to reduce congestion on the Downtown Connector, possibly including tunnels or a double-decked roadway.
Trying to reduce congestion by spending millions on megaprojects to add new road capacity is not the wisest move, in part because induced demand often mitigates any actual congestion relief. It also exposes the city to a risk of fustercluckery. But reading further, the situation looks a little brighter:
Among the more "practical" and "financially realistic" ideas that DOT will look at are alternate routes (and improvements to alternate routes such as widening I-285 east and west), policy changes such as tolls, occupancy requirements, consideration of some type of commuter credits program, which could be used for encouraging the avoidance of trips in the peak periods and the shifting of trips to transit.
Implementing a policy that raises the cost of driving through downtown at peak hours is an excellent idea--ideally this would be a congestion pricing scheme, but another system like tolling would be a substantial improvement. My ideal outcome would be to tear the entire thing down. Reconnecting the neighborhoods that have been separated would open up a tremendous amount of valuable land for infill development, and capitalize on Atlanta's momentum towards achieving an urban, walkable city core.

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