Twice as many suburban residents now commute to work in the suburbs as go to jobs downtown. These commuters are finding the roads to work increasingly clogged, and their nerves are getting increasingly raw. Is there any way out of this mess, or are we all doomed to getting stuck on the freeway?
Americans once moved to the suburbs to escape the crowds, the pollution and the traffic of the central cities. No longer. As older suburbs become more densely populated and new ones are established farther out. America may be headed toward a form of unresolvable suburban gridlock.
The high-rise office buildings now towering over former cow pastures and corn fields are one reason for the increased traffic load in the suburbs. Although the growing concentration of suburban office and retail space still does not approach that of the central cities, the impact on traffic is severe. “These are precisely the densities that are dysfunctional for transportation,” says C. Kenneth Orski, president of Urban Mobility Corp., a consulting firm in Washington, D.C. “They're too high to be served effectively by the auto and they're too low to be served effectively by mass transit.”