Monday, February 2, 2009

On Locking Grids

Given many cities don't have grids anymore, I find it interesting that gridlock is still in the lexicon, specifically because if we did have a grid system, its likely there would be less lock. And to my current point in the last post about congestion and its endless war, I think the editors of the Rocky Mountain News have it wrong that the whole purpose in life of transportation funding should be to keep travel speeds at current levels through increased road and transit capacity. That's hardly a laudable goal given the number of people that will likely live in Denver in 20 years and how much more VMT that would mean, more than likely wiping out reductions in emissions.
It's not only FasTracks that is short of funding, after all. Revenue for the upkeep, improvement and expansion of metro roads and highways is also far below what would be needed to preserve today's travel speeds over the next 20 years. Unless lawmakers and civic leaders think FasTracks alone can prevent future gridlock - a naive hope for reasons we'll explain - they should make sure that any future ballot issue includes more than a FasTracks bailout.
I think there should be money for maintenance and repair, but beyond that, Fastracks is just a regional commuter system. There needs to be funding for local circulation and greater frequency that will help spur denser walkable neighborhoods. Don't get all scared at density either Denver. Maybe it means a few granny flats or maybe it means high rises. Depends on the neighborhood.


Rhywun said...

It's definitely time to pay attention to cities. We've lavished billions of dollars on "light rail" (which while good for downtown's economy also had the perverse effect of contributing to more sprawl in the region) while the core stagnates. The result is that in many cities it's easier to drive to the suburbs for all your needs than find something local.

Alon Levy said...

if we did have a grid system, its likely there would be less lock.

That's not true. One of the points of the Smeed Report is that the limiting factor with traffic is people's unwillingness to drive when there's congestion, and any improvement in circulation will just make people drive more. That's why Smeed recommended congestion pricing, which artificially raises the price of driving, as the only solution to gridlock.