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Traffic Congestion
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Residents of urban areas experience traffic congestion on a regular basis. From 1995 to 2005, the number of miles driven on U.S. highways and major roads rose 85%.

According to a report in the March 1, 2007, US Today, congestion is a major challenge for cities. The report uses information from the Texas Transportation Institute to identify four cities with the worse traffic congestion in the U.S. (starting with the worst):  Los Angeles, Washington D.C., San Francisco, and Atlanta.

The Federal Highway Administration statistics document the percentage of increase in miles driven in 2005 as compared to 1995:  Los Angeles—6.2%, New York—25.6%, Atlanta—50.3%, and Phoenix—64.5%. The dramatic increase of Phoenix congestion is a sign of challenges to come. It is rapidly growing, and future growth will be affected by gridlock. The US Today report quotes Eric Anderson, transportation director for the Maricopa Association of Governments, the regional planning agency that coordinates freeway construction projects:  “We’re adding about 125,000 people a year, and we have a population approaching 4 million.”

Twenty-Four Lane Highway Proposal

The report cites the response to such growth:  “A plan to widen part of Interstate 10 in metropolitan Phoenix from 14 lanes to 24 lanes is the USA’s latest giant superhighway proposal designed to ease the kind of gridlock that some planners say could stunt economic growth. For a 2-mile stretch between U.S. 60 in Tempe and State Route 143, the interstate would have six-general purpose lanes, two carpool lanes and four lanes for local traffic in each direction. Work on the first phase, which planners expect to cost about $550 million, could begin by 2011.

“Political and business leaders in metro areas increasingly view traffic congestion as hurting their ability to compete with other regions for new businesses and young professionals.”

Congestion—an issue that affects the lives of millions and that will drive civic budgets for years to come.

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