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Traffic Solutions

What is the future of traffic? Depending on what urban center you live in, it could take an hour to drive ten miles. All these cars, where can they go? More and more cars are on the road and it will most likely continue to increase. What solutions do major cities have or are planning on implementing to alleviate traffic problems? What does the future hold for traffic?

In Massachusetts one solution, albeit probably temporary was a project known as the Big Dig.  The project took over twenty years and cost billions, it basically took Boston’s major artery into the city and put it underground, making it an “express” through the city, with few inner city exits. It also created a new tunnel to the airport. It expanded some public transportation  as well with the creation of the MBTA’s, Silver Line. Studies theorized that there would be six hour traffic jams driving within ten miles of Boston. Traffic is still pretty bad in and out of Boston, not six hours but it’s now not in the top ten cities of problem traffic areas. Many other large cities have undergone, or are planning to completely overhaul their highway layout. Denver’s project was nicknamed T-Rex, the Transportation Expansion. Highways were added and widened, no tunnels were created, but light rail was also expanded. Unlike the Big Dig the project finished early and was under budget. Most major cities are constantly studying traffic problems in order to alleviate the problem of congested highways. Not only is congested traffic a headache for drivers, but stand still idling automobiles create an environmental pollution nightmare.

Major cities try to correct traffic problems with slightly simpler solutions such as car pool lanes, or not so simple, tolls to get in the city. Increase public transportation along with a tax deduction also tries to encourage people to leave their cars at home. The problem is, people love their cars and they love to drive. There are almost as many registered passenger vehicles in the US as there are people. Many households have more registered vehicles than drivers. The high cost of gasoline, tolls and parking isn’t really impacting traffic patterns in major cities.      

What does the future hold? As the population increases there will obviously be more drivers on the road, even if it is one registered car per driver. Cities have implemented GPS to alert drivers of traffic situations in order to divert them from the congestion. Added car pool lanes hope to lessen traffic as well. Public transportation is constantly being increased and improved. Putting tolls in to reduce traffic obviously has it’s opponents. One reason is that only the wealthy will be able to pay the toll, and of course people don’t want more taxes and/or tolls in general. Tolls are part of the extreme measures, along with increased charges on parking meters, or getting rid of public parking all together, which can work two fold, open up lanes on streets and discourage people from driving into the city. Again, any fees associated with tolls, car pool lanes and parking are looked upon as unfair to the not so wealthy. To offset incentives are offered for public transportation in the form of small tax breaks. Solutions are hard to find, and traffic is always forecasted to increase as the years go by. It seems the only way to discourage congestion is the tax and fee route. Good or bad to some people, pay as you go methodology is one of the biggest talked about solutions to too much traffic, since you can only build so many highways near a city, and people love to drive.