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New Houston Mayor to Texas DOT: Wider Roads Mean More Traffic

“The traditional strategy of adding capacity … exacerbates urban congestion problems.”
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Count new Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner among the growing crowd of local transportation officials wary of road-expansion as a solution to traffic problems. Turner told the Texas Transportation Commission last week that it was time for a “paradigm shift” away from the ineffective approach of widening highways, according to prepared remarks posted by Streetsblog’s Angie Schmitt. That strategy, he said, only makes congestion worse.

To help his case, Turner pointed to the Katy Freeway in Houston, or Interstate 10. A few years ago it was expanded to 26 lanes in some segments at a cost of $2.8 billion—good enough to earn the title of the “world’s widest freeway.” Despite all that new road capacity, rush-hour travel times increased between 2011 and 2014; in 2015, Turner pointed out, one segment of the Katy was ranked among the most congested roads in Texas.