Research in the US is considering the real cost of the requirement to widen roads for new development. The policy and thinking by planners and engineers is that development creates car trips that must be accommodated with more asphalt. This occurs even when traffic numbers don’t suggest it is required now or into the future. The research has indicated that the whole practice of street widenings to ‘accommodate’ new residential development does little to reduce congestion and appears to be “largely symbolic,” LA surveys showed that nearly two-thirds of streets which had been widened to handle up to 10,000 vehicles per day in fact saw fewer than 5,000 vehicles per day, years later.
This is like “blaming Disneyland for increased air travel, and forcing the theme park to expand runways whenever it adds attractions,” he argues.
This issue of requiring land and construction of super wide roads is also evident across Melbourne. Whilst it may sometimes be required to ‘future proof’ a new development area, the real cost of this symbolic gesture should be considered, ensuring that traffic needs appropriately match road widths.
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