How A Texas Highway Bucked Conventional Traffic Wisdom

A road project near Dallas-Fort Worth seems to have found the magic bullet for traffic, going against a commonly held notion that widening roads doesn’t decrease congestion.  

By Alain StephensApril 26, 2016 3:50 pm|

Texans don’t have basements but if we did, they’d work just like garages do. Building a bigger one won’t make the junk go away. The junk seems to expend to fill the space provided.

Among people who know about transportation a similar notion has become such an axiom that its been distilled into a rule: the rule of induced demand. If you widen a road, the road won’t get less congested. In fact, it will be more congested. Widening highways never fixes traffic.

And yet. One Texas highway proved an exception to the ruleAarian Marshallwho writes about transportation for Wired magazine, says they’re students of traffic and this situation in Dallas-Fort Worth doesn’t quite violate the rule of induced demand for two reasons: it was a very specific place where the highway bottle-necked and it’s so new that we don’t know yet how well it’s solved the problem.

“There’s no reason to go back and widen all of our highways now,” she says.

What you’ll hear in this segment:

– How the Highway 161 project came about

– Where the bottleneck was and why that affected the area’s traffic flow

– What solutions they came up with to deal with this area

This post was prepared for the web by Hannah McBride.