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HomeCyclingIs is feasible to improve freeways with out inducing demand? ODOT desires...

Is is feasible to improve freeways with out inducing demand? ODOT desires to know


A free-flowing freeway is what ODOT goals about.
(Picture: Jonathan Maus/BikePortland)

The Oregon Division of Transportation faces a conundrum on the subject of making modifications to their freeways.

“Whereas the street constructing period of the Nineteen Fifties freeway networks is basically full, even minor funding supposed to optimize present roadway system property are more and more dealing with opposition within the identify of ‘induced demand’.”
— excerpt from ODOT’s analysis thought

In the event that they do nothing (coverage or infrastructure-wise), not solely will ODOT draw the ire of some politicians and factions of the general public, however the assumption is that particular areas will proceed to have main bottlenecks throughout peak site visitors instances and/or when crashes occur. But when they add lanes or make different modifications to easy out these bottlenecks, they danger attracting too many drivers, which can trigger the state’s greenhouse fuel emissions to go up. Increasing and upgrading freeways can also be a surefire method to appeal to opposition, lawsuits, delays, and/or — ODOT’s worst worry — chilly ft from elected officers.

To assist untangle this knot, ODOT is looking for assist from outdoors consultants. Our eagle-eyed ODOT-watcher Peter Welte got here throughout a analysis challenge pitched by the company’s Local weather Workplace that will give them, “Steering on how Induced Demand impacts Local weather Change Emission Targets.” The analysis request was posted to the Transportation and Environmental Analysis Concepts database (hosted by the nonprofit American Affiliation of State Freeway and Transportation Officers, or AASHTO) in July 2021 by ODOT Local weather Impression Evaluation Program Supervisor Tara Weidner. It comes with an estimate payout of $100,000 – $249,000 for the fitting guide

Listed here are just a few salient excerpts from the analysis thought scope:

“… recurring bottlenecks and nonrecurring occasions like crashes and extreme climate occasions, end in breakdowns on freeway circumstances lowering the mobility and reliability of the freeway system. These circumstances push autos in to non-optimal speeds… whereas slower speeds and stop-and-go circumstances improve pollution and GHG emissions. Whereas the street constructing period of the Nineteen Fifties freeway networks is basically full, even minor methods and funding supposed to optimize present roadway system property are more and more dealing with opposition within the identify of “induced demand”…”

… DOTs want help in understanding one of the best investments to stability competing objectives… whereas “induced” demand has been sometimes utilized to giant roadway initiatives, there are new issues that auxiliary lanes (sometimes lower than 1 mile of “new capability”) may additionally induce site visitors demand, limiting their effectivity in fixing congestion bottlenecks.

… Beneath what circumstances do main and minor induced demand points happen, and the way can these results be mitigated by tolling or land use controls. How can roadways be a accountable part of a transportation system intent on tackling GHG emissions that encourage spreading demand throughout multi-modal choices, the place out there. A definitive research of those and different minor “capability” enhancements on each freeways and arterials is required to enhance DOT funding selections for the long run.

… This proposed research could be step one to supply a broader understanding of the environment friendly roadway congestion methods.”

Studying by the analysis thought scope, an optimist may make the case that ODOT is doing the fitting factor by studying extra about how issues like how/if “auxiliary” lanes on freeways create extra site visitors and what impression that site visitors has on our communities and planet. However a skeptic may see this train as nothing greater than a approach for ODOT to bulk up speaking factors so as to successfully beat again rising outcry over freeway widening initiatives (in spite of everything they particularly point out opposition twice). One other factor that crossed my thoughts is how ODOT may merely be in search of methods to extra successfully spin freeway expansions as they start writing grant functions to their “new finest pal”, U.S. DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

One other factor to bear in mind when making an attempt to grasp ODOT’s perspective on freeway initiatives. The company is led by somebody who believes that tweaking interstates to create free-flowing site visitors is an effective local weather change technique. At his Oregon Senate affirmation listening to in late 2019, ODOT Director Kris Strickler mentioned, “… We all know that, automobiles sitting in site visitors, emitting the emissions will not be essentially one of the best ways to handle greenhouse fuel reductions.”

Keep tuned. If ODOT finds anybody to do that analysis, we’ll attempt to monitor it down and share it right here.

For now, brush up on induced demand by studying this piece by Joe Cortright in Metropolis Observatory (who I ought to level out is an outspoken critic of ODOT and co-founder of No Extra Freeways).