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ODOT Spending $66.5 Million to Add More Traffic to I-270

Walker Evans Walker Evans ODOT Spending $66.5 Million to Add More Traffic to I-270
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In 2017, the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) will begin a new $66.5 million project to add an extra highway lane to a short eight-mile section of Interstate 270 between Dublin and Hilliard.

“Funding is available now, which is why the project is happening sooner rather than later,” stated the department in a press release on September 8th. “Construction was originally set to begin in July 2018, but will now start this coming Spring.”

The expansion is being constructed not to alleviate congestion though, but instead to accomodate an additional 30,000 vehicles projected to use this stretch daily over the next 20 years.

“If there’s anything that traffic engineers have discovered in the last few decades it’s that you can’t build your way out of congestion,” wrote Adam Mann on the topic in Wired Magazine. “It’s the roads themselves that cause traffic.”

The phenomenon, known as “induced demand” is a basic economic concept that states that when a product or service is limited in supply, demand for that product is limited. An increase in supply then creates an increase in demand. When applied to roads and driving, it means that a wider highway attracts more drivers than a narrower highway, therefore creating the additional traffic rather than alleviating it.

“Though some traffic engineers made note of this phenomenon at least as early as the 1960s, it is only in recent years that social scientists have collected enough data to show how this happens pretty much every time we build new roads,” adds Mann. “These findings imply that the ways we traditionally go about trying to mitigate jams are essentially fruitless.”

Mann continues:

“As it turns out, we humans love moving around. And if you expand people’s ability to travel, they will do it more, living farther away from where they work and therefore being forced to drive into town. Making driving easier also means that people take more trips in the car than they otherwise would. Finally, businesses that rely on roads will swoop into cities with many of them, bringing trucking and shipments. The problem is that all these things together erode any extra capacity you’ve built into your street network, meaning traffic levels stay pretty much constant. As long as driving on the roads remains easy and cheap, people have an almost unlimited desire to use them.”

According to ODOT’s press release, the opposite effect is expected:

“The addition of a fourth lane in each direction will increase capacity, which will not only reduce congestion during peak travel times, but also improve traffic flow in the area.”

The expansion is planned for completion in Fall of 2018.

For more information, visit www.dot.state.oh.us/districts/D06/news/.

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