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Jon Chait wants to rebuild Klingle Road and sees opposition to the project as driven solely by a desire of nearby property owners to keep their backyards quiet. In response to my post on the subject he queries:

If we're going to try to encourage public transit by making life hard for drivers, why do it by randomly closing roads that happen to run through wealthy areas whose residents have the clout to keep them closed? Why not jack up the tax on cars, or have the city periodically scatter shards of broken glass in the streets?



I think the case against periodically scattering shards of broken glass in the streets is pretty clear, but in case it's not -- doing so would be hazardous to pedestrians, cyclists, commercial vehicles, etc., and as such it doesn't suggest itself as a reasonable method of discouraging automobile use. Jacking up the tax on cars sounds like a good idea to me. I'd also favor congestion pricing, reduction in the amount of free parking made available, etc.

But to be clear on the question at hand, I don't own any property that abuts Klingle Road or even live in the area, and I'm not some kind of hypocrite who refuses to apply the same principle generally. Closing down entire roads probably isn't the best way to go, but I would strongly favor eliminating car traffic lanes throughout the city in order to make dedicated bus lanes, bike lanes, or streetcar tracks. And built-up areas should not, in general, be investing money in building new roads or (what amounts to the same thing) rebuilding old ones that have been closed. New road capacity in a place like DC is going to do very little to relieve traffic congestion over the long run (to reduce congestion you need congestion pricing -- otherwise the uncongested, unpriced road is a valuable resource that will swiftly be "overconsumed" by drivers) and therefore makes little sense as a target for public expenditures.

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