By now, the snarl of traffic that ensnares many major roadways in Houston is well-documented. Houston continues 38 of the 100 most congested roadways in the state, according to the latest annual assessment by Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute, and six of the top 10. And it’s not just rush-hour driving the jam.
In fact, “the highest ranking segment for 2017, I-610 West in Houston from the Katy Freeway to the Southwest Freeway, has about 45 percent of its delay outside of the traditional peak periods (6:00-9:00am and 4:00-7:00pm) which shows that this is not only a ‘rush hour’ phenomenon,” according to the report. The findings, according to the Institute, illustrate “a familiar theme – growth-induced traffic gridlock is getting worse every year.”
Indeed, traffic was the top concern of respondents in the 2017 Kinder Houston Area Survey. “In this rapidly growing, automobile-dependent metropolitan region, concerns about traffic and calls for more roadways and more alternative modes of transportation are likely to be the “new normal” for many years to come,” the report concludes.
But there’s a cautionary tale here. “New roads will create new drivers, resulting in the intensity of traffic staying the same,” as Adam Mann put it in Wired. Despite persuasive evidence that this is indeed the case, Texas doesn’t seem to have got the message.
Though 62 percent of Harris County residents said they supported improved mass transit in the 2016 Kinder Houston Area Survey, only 45 percent said they supported spending more taxpayer funds to improve rail and buses.
This year’s numbers from the Texas A&M University’s Transportation Institute: