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Monday, January 30, 2006


Denver Transit

Matthew Kahn:
"Highways are durable goods. Many highways were built in the 1950s. Out near denver the amount of driving has soared since then and now the roads are clogged. This article below provides details about a public policy fight over whether road expansion is 'good public policy'. The article does not mention road pricing as a means of solving congestion problems. The article slightly naively keeps talking about mass transit investments as a means of getting people off of the roads. In 1970, 5% of Denver's workers commuted by public transit and in the year 2000, 5% of Denver's workers commuted by public transit. Clearly, this is car country and even if you build light rail people will continue to take their cars. The Denver CBD is not enough of an employment hub.

People who oppose the road expansion must either be concerned about 'scale' effects or they are worried about 'composition' effects meaning what types of people are likely to be moving to their communities. "
Note the reference to road pricing. If using the highway carries no price per use, then the quantity (or number of uses/users) demanded will be at the horizontal intercept of the demand curve. When congestion occurs a "price" is paid by each user in terms of delayed travel time.

Expanding the road's capacity can surely reduce congestion, at least for a time. But, without pricing per use, we can expect congestion to increase over time, once again.

Assuming no pricing per use, if a road's capacity is expanded, are there others effects we can expect to see over time?

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