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Transportation

Americans Are Spending Billions on Bad Highway Expansions

PIRG’s annual list of “highway boondoggles” includes nine transportation projects that will cost a total of $25 billion while driving up emissions.
Is wider better?
Is wider better?Richard Vogel/AP

Every year, local and state governments around the U.S. set their sights on big new highway projects. Some propose to build fresh six-and eight-lane regional corridors; others to add lanes and fancy interchanges to highways that already exist.

In either case, the rationales are often the same: meet the demands of growing populations, bring aging roads up to modern safety and design standards, and—almost without fail—relieve congestion. But as project bids move through the approval processes to secure coveted federal funds, something that tends to go unexamined is whether mobility needs can be met without them.