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The Fundamental Law of Road Congestion: Evidence from US Cities

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Abstract:

We investigate the effect of lane kilometers of roads on vehicle-kilometers traveled (VKT) in US cities. VKT increases proportionately to roadway lane kilometers for interstate highways and probably slightly less rapidly for other types of roads. The sources for this extra VKT are increases in driving by current residents, increases in commercial traffic, and migration. Increasing lane kilometers for one type of road diverts little traffic from other types of road. We find no evidence that the provision of public transportation affects VKT. We conclude that increased provision of roads or public transit is unlikely to relieve congestion.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1257/aer.101.6.2616

Publication date: 2011-10-01

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