Byron Schlomach

Solving Traffic Problems Requires New Ways of Thinking

Posted on June 03, 2008 | Author: Byron Schlomach
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Sunday's Arizona Republic had a cover story on Phoenix-area traffic congestion that reaffirmed my belief that were stuck in traffic because were stuck in some very limiting ways of thinking.

The article described four major traffic bottlenecks and the improvements that are planned to alleviate them. Funding for each project, or lack thereof, was shown. The article was so depressing that desperate readers (and commuters) could easily reach the wrong conclusion that a tax increase to fund transportation improvements is a good idea.

By focusing on the trees--four very real bottlenecks--The Arizona Republic missed the forest, which is that Phoenix and Tucson need an east-west alternative to I-10. A bypass could remove most of the truck traffic that's passing through the state. If we could get those trucks off the roadways, especially during rush hour, those bottlenecks would be much improved. ADOT has studied a possible bypass but says funding for such a project might be as many as 50 years away.

How do we get such a bypass built? Why not take a line from Willie Sutton and go where the money is? That's the private sector, which has billions of dollars ready to invest. Under long-term agreements, private firms are building roads that drivers pay tolls to use. Some 21 other states have embraced this approach. Arizona can either stifle its economy with traffic congestion and taxes, or it can expand its thinking on how to provide transportation solutions.

Learn more:

Goldwater Institute: More Roads to Travel: A Path to Transportation Solutions in Arizona

Goldwater Institute: Sales tax proposal wont fix traffic

Arizona Republic: Traffic congestion worsens, but relief is no easy or cheap task

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