Putting congestion in the right place
While no city has figured out how to completely eliminate congestion, a few have developed some creative strategies for mitigating its impacts.
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Jeffrey Tumlin, Jessica ter Schure, and Patrick Siegman argue that some degree of road congestion is almost unavoidable: “The most successful cities simply locate their inevitable congestion in places where it has the least impact on local economic development, quality of life, and other goals.” In a short section of Sustainable Transportation Planning, they tell how this is accomplished in three West Coast cities:
• San Francisco “intentionally places its freeway congestion in the middle of its downtown, where the Bay Bridge meets US 101. This has the effect of making it relatively easy to drive to downtown, but rather difficult to drive through downtown.” The city, in other words, has found a way to take economic advantage of the freeway.
• Vancouver, BC, “places traffic bottlenecks in a ring around the city. Traffic heading into the city from the Lion’s Gate Bridge, for example, may queue for more than a mile in a retained cut through Stanley Park as it is metered into the downtown grid. The result is relatively little congestion in the city center, because of the metering effect of the bottleneck ... .”
• “Santa Monica, California, knowing there is nothing it can do to eliminate the notorious