Traffic Congestion

January 26, 2018 • Volume 28, Issue 4
Would new roads ease gridlock?
By David Hosansky


Traffic crawls along in Chicago on the day before Thanksgiving (Cover: Getty Images/NurPhoto/Patrick Gorski)
Traffic crawls along in Chicago on the day before Thanksgiving, Nov. 22, 2017. Traditional congestion solutions, such as building more highways, typically provide only temporary relief. Some transportation analysts say the answer is raising gasoline taxes or imposing more tolls. Others see hope in technological advances such as self-driving cars. (Cover: Getty Images/NurPhoto/Patrick Gorski)

Traffic congestion is a perennial but growing problem in the United States, frustrating motorists, wasting time and fuel and costing drivers, cities, employers and others nearly $300 billion a year in direct and indirect costs. The average rush-hour commuter spends about 42 hours per year — the equivalent of a week's work — sitting in traffic. Traditional solutions, such as expanding roads or building public transit systems, have had only a limited impact. Almost as soon as traffic flows more freely, experts say, more drivers take to the roads, boosting traffic until it backs up again. Some transportation analysts believe raising gasoline taxes or imposing more tolls might deter drivers, but such proposals spark political resistance. Eventually, technological advances such as self-driving cars may make traffic more manageable. Meanwhile, the Trump administration and Congress are gearing up for a major debate over a $1 trillion plan to rebuild the nation's aging roads, highways, bridges and other infrastructure, which some say would help ease congestion.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Traffic Congestion
Jan. 26, 2018  Traffic Congestion
Aug. 27, 1999  Traffic Congestion
May 06, 1994  Traffic Congestion
Jun. 03, 1988  Gridlock in Suburbia
Feb. 08, 1961  City Traffic Congestion
Budget and the Economy
Motor Traffic and Roads
Motor Vehicle Industry
Motor Vehicles
Privatization of Government Functions
Public Transportation
Regional Planning and Urbanization