How Do We Size and Allocate Freeway Capacity?

Yesterday’s Portland Tribune, in milder terms than the FHWA, editorialized that Metro may be overlooking roads in the Regional Transportation Plan update.

While Steve Clark, the Trib’s publisher, and a mover and shaker on transportation issues in the business community, would probably concede that we can’t build our way out of congestion, the tone of the editorial suggests that he wants us to try a little bit.

Metro’s approach on the other hand is to recognize that freeway capacity is a finite quantity, and we’re better off building better connected local grids to avoid funneling so much traffic onto the constrained freeways.

Another way to look at this is to ask how we’re going to allocate our freeway capacity: with congestion, so whoever is willing to wait the longest gets to use the freeway. Or perhaps more rationally, with some form of pricing, so that the economically most important trips get priority?

This is going to be an interesting discussion to watch unfold.

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