Not a street, and not super

Ross Catrow shared a wric.com article about Chesterfield County’s $54 million “super street” this morning in Good Morning RVA. I disagree with wric.com’s reporting on the project and I think the solution will create more problems than it solves.

“We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” ~ Albert Einstein

  • wric.com repeatedly uses the word “accident”. They should write wreck, collision, or crash. Wrecks on Route 10 are neither unpredictable nor unavoidable. They are the result of poor design. They are a choice. See:

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  • John Capps wants slower speed limits. Unfortunately, signs have little to do with how fast people drive. Drivers choose speeds based on how comfortable they feel – this is called risk homeostasis. If Chesterfield County wants to make drivers safer, they should increase edge friction by making narrower lanes, leaving trees “fixed hazardous objects” near the road, etc.
  • This won’t be a street and it won’t be super. Streets are places where people come together, where commerce happens. This is a road. It is solely designed for people to get from point A to point B in cars.
  • I’ve never seen any evidence that widening roads reduces congestion in the long run. In fact, I’ve only seen evidence that induced demand means congestion will be the same if not worse in the long run.
  • $54 million dollars is a lot of millions of dollars. It’s tough to not think about the opportunity cost of building something bad instead of building something good. As Ross Catrow pointed out, “You could run GRTC’s whole operation (none of which is in Chesterfield County) for an entire year with that kind of money.” But hey…engineers are going to engineer -> “If your only tool is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail.” Since engineers’ only tool is more asphalt, every problem ends with more lane miles.

To summarize, Chesterfield County is getting ready to spend $54 million dollars to widen a road that will make drivers less safe and won’t reduce congestion in the long run.

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