According to a recent study by the Texas Transportation Institute, traffic congestion along Denver's freeways is getting worse. In fact, it appears to be at its all-time worst. The study concluded that Denver is ranked No. 15 in the list of cities with the most traffic congestion delay, and is costing each driver approximately $16.79 per hour. In addition, the commuter stress factors have been increasing, suggesting the limited tolerance for these increases in traffic congestion. CDOT officials are concerned about this increase as they only have budget to maintain existing infrastructure rather than the ability to build extra capacity. However, RTD's FasTracks plan should be able to mitigate some of the concern for this increased traffic congestion.
Based on research conducted by Bhattacharjee and Goetz at the University of Denver, traffic congestion along highways within the "zone of influence" of the three existing RTD light rail lines rose less rapidly than highways outside the influence of light rail transit. The research found that "during the entire span of the study, from 1992 to 2008, vehicle-miles
traveled rose 41 percent outside the light rail zones and only 31
percent inside it." This is particularly important given the level of investment RTD is planning for future FasTracks rail and BRT service, most of which is planned within the influence zone of existing regional highways. It is also important to note that most development is now being focused within close proximity of FasTracks stations, which supports smart growth principles and should hope to minimize the demand for freeway line miles using transit service to move people. Let's just hope that RTD can build the FasTracks fast enough to minimize continued increases in the highway traffic congestion!
1. Hooper, Troy. "Traffic congestion getting worse in Denver, study shows." Web. <http://www.denverijournal.com/article.php?id=8172>. Denver I Journal. 14 February 2013.
2. Jaffe, Eric. "Does Light Rail Really Alleviate Highway Congestion?" Web.
<http://www.theatlanticcities.com/commute/2012/02/does-light-rail-really-alleviate-highway-congestion/1358/>. The Atlantic Cities. 29 February 2012.