What if we can’t fix 380?

What if we can’t fix 380?

Right now in the corridor there’s a push to widen Interstate 380 between Iowa City and Cedar Rapids. The cost estimate of widening 380 in the corridor is $170 million. Proponents say this will decrease congestion and reduce the number of accidents. Here’s why they’re wrong. It’s called the fundamental law of traffic congestion and it goes like this; making roads bigger doesn’t reduce congestion. The bigger the road, the more attractive it is for drivers, which means more drivers, which means congestion. Highways are the If You Give a Mouse a Cookie of infrastructure. Often this law is called induced demand, basically, “if you build it, they will come.” It holds true for all different road types, all over the world. Adding lanes to 380 won’t decrease congestion. Sorry, commuters. It’s a law. What about accidents? Will widening 380 decrease the number of accidents?  It will certainly make some accidents less awful for commuters, if two lanes can be kept open instead of one (except you’ll still be funnelling more traffic into those two lanes). Spending $170 million to be less inconvenienced at the violent deaths of others is morbid but rational. There are some things that can be done to make 380 safer, like replacing the dangerous cloverleaf interchange between I-380 and I-80. Which is already part of the plan. Mostly the interstate is well designed. It’s not the design of the interstate that is leading to crashes, it’s drivers. More drivers means more crashes. Right now the only way to travel between Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and points inbetween is with a car. We can pour…