Atlanta's boosters say that unless drastic steps are taken to unclog the highways here, the city won't be able to compete with fast-growing places such as Phoenix, Denver, San Diego, Charlotte and Dallas — all of which have made long-term commitments to major transportation improvements.What the article fails to mention is that all of those cities are investing not only in roads, but heavily in light rail networks. Dallas, Denver and San Diego have a head start but Charlotte and Phoenix are planning large systems as well. This is in comparison to Atlanta which has a smaller heavy rail system. The problem is that it was never built out as planned and shows the difference between Washington DC Metro's build out which they have achieved as planned and Atlanta which stopped short of its goals. Now Atlanta is known as the road capital of the United States.
But we know that spending a bunch of money on roads won't relieve congestion. Lyndon Henry did an analysis of the big dig and found that for the $15 billion investment they made the new road only takes 1.8% of the total vehicle miles traveled of the whole region. Isn't that the same argument that the road warriors have been using about rail? Yet at a hypothetical 30 million per mile, Boston could have built 500 miles of light rail. That would have taken more than 1.8% of VMT for sure. Wendell Cox and company have been against government waste but their goals are sure. More roads and oil dependence are the answer. The USA Today article might not get it, but the transit space race is a key part of cities reducing their dependence on the automobile and creating more sustainable cities.