From last week's City Strobe:
Damn that traffic jam
A new study shows Louisville ranks third among mid-sized cities with the worst traffic jams, costing local drivers an annual $395 million in gasoline and lost time they could have spent standing around the water cooler demanding more concrete and bridges.
According to the Texas Transportation Institute study, the average Louisville driver wastes 42 hours and 14.4 gallons of gas each year sitting idly in traffic — if by “idly” you mean talking on the phone, eating, applying makeup, shaving, watching SpongeBob and tickling the CrackBerry. The 42 hours Louisville drivers waste in traffic jams compares with the medium-city national average of 28, and our own 1982 average of 18.
The study, funded in part by the Coalition to Pave Paradise and Put Up a Parking Lot … er, the American Road & Transportation Builders Association, found that drivers nationwide lose 4.2 billion hours and 2.9 billion gallons of gas per year sitting in traffic. Their surprising solution? Build more roads. While the funding source of the study might raise eyebrows, there’s no denying Louisville has serious traffic hairballs. (Besides, when has a Texan ever lied to you?)
The state’s brain trust agrees with the road-builders, as current plans include building two new bridges and a 24-lane-wide concrete bonnet over a big chunk of downtown. The Bridges Project got a wee setback last week when companies bidding on the East End portion said they want at least $5 million more than the $14 million projected just to drill an exploratory tunnel that might eventually become a traffic tunnel leading to what might someday become an East End bridge. Because it’s not what they do, none of the researchers or the road-builders are talking about better bus service, light rail, bicycling or sensible suburban design; building the bridge to common sense, of course, is up to you.