A plan to expand a highway in Stockholm, Sweden, into an enormous 18 lanes has commenters on the internet up in arms.
Posted to the r/f***cars subreddit, a rendering of the proposed highway expansion was tagged as “Infrastructure gore.” “This UC section of E4 Stockholm will have 18 lanes across + 2 lane byroad,” the caption read.
Studies have shown that expanding highways often has the opposite of the intended effect — increasing traffic instead of relieving congestion, all while contributing to air pollution, noise pollution, and the degradation of the environment. But that doesn’t seem to stop governments from doing it anyway.
According to Trafikverket (The Swedish Transportation Authority, which is responsible for the expansion), the project will “relieve the arterial roads and the inner city of traffic and reduce the vulnerability of the Stockholm traffic system.”
However, research on highway expansions indicates that this is not the case.
This graphic does a great job communicating the science behind induced travel demand, and this recent review summarizes much of the recent scholarship on the topic: https://t.co/4hpFk9UAYQ pic.twitter.com/WKZiFf8TOr— Jeremy Hoffman (@jer_science) March 27, 2023
According to a blog posted on the Science Museum of Virginia website that summarized a study conducted by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, “Expanding new roadways creates easy and open stretches of driving to new and further away places, which winds up attracting more drivers. Some give up carpooling, using active transportation like walking and biking, while others give up mass transit.”
The study found that a roadway expansion of 10% is likely to increase vehicle miles traveled by 3%-8% in the short term and 8%-10% in the long term.
Unsurprisingly, the members of the anti-car subreddit were not pleased by the rendering of the 18-lane expanded highway.
“What a monstrosity,” one commenter wrote.
“Eww gross, they left some forests!” another sarcastically wrote.
“The more central route called Essingeleden will probably just fill up with more induced demand which means more traffic on all streets in the centre,” wrote another presumably local commenter. “And the ‘bypass’ will allow for faster car journeys between suburbs allowing more people to commute suburb to suburb by car and inducing more traffic.”
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