Sonny Bunch on Grand New Party advocating highway widening:
I’m all for reducing traffic congestion. For the first 15 months or so after I graduated from college I lived in Stafford County, VA, and commuted into DC. Roundtrip, it was four hours. Every day. Slightly shorter when Congress was out of session; slightly longer when there was a massive pileup on I-95. I’m terribly sympathetic to the idea that widening traffic lanes will reduce that congestion and reduce carbon emissions to boot. Except that, well, it’s kind of unworkable.
For starters: where are you going to put these extra lanes? It’s not simple NIMBYism in the DC areathe I-95 corridor is packed with homes and businesses on either side of the highway for long stretches. We’re talking about relocating thousands of homes and businesses if we really want to stretch things out horizontally. I think we’d probably be better off with expanding the rail system than the highway system, but that’s neither here nor there: the details of Ross and Reihan’s highway plan are very tricky.
But you wouldn’t know it from the book because on this issue (and most of the other sweeping ideas they propose), no real details are offered. It’s easy to wave a magic wand and say “Widen the highways!” or “Remove the ethanol subsidy!” It’s another thing entirely to make it happen. Again: I’m sympathetic to almost every idea they propose, but to make them happen we need a detailed plan.
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