A recent study, released by U.S. Public Interest Research Group, finds that states continue to propose and start more highway expansion projects – a deviation from the the federal guidance to finance more eco-friendly initiatives like bike lanes.
While $1 trillion package was allocated towards infrastructure projects in the law passed last November, the report notes that highway expansion projects across the US could exhaust all of the infrastructure resources. Consequently, the authors of the research state that while there is a need for highway expansions to reduce traffic, these are only temporary solutions with long-term harmful effects to the environment.
On the financial and environmental impacts of these projects, EcoWatch have further reported:
“America can’t afford to squander our historic investment in infrastructure on boondoggle projects,” James Horrox, policy analyst at Frontier Group and lead author of the report, said in a statement. “And yet, across the country, wasteful and damaging highway expansion projects are often first in line for public dollars.”
“Since 1980, the U.S. has added nearly 870,000 lane-miles of highway — paving more than 1,648 square miles, an area larger than the state of Rhode Island — and yet, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, congestion on America’s roads was worse than it was in the early 1980s,” the report states.
While some major projects, like the M-83 highway, are on hold, the new infrastructure package could encourage states to unpause projects and spend that money toward completing them. But the authors of the report are asking states to instead put the funding toward initiatives that are better for communities and the environment.
The report asks state and local governments to deprioritize highway projects, and instead focus on investing in other modes of transportation that decrease dependence on personal vehicle use; repairing existing roads; and looking to data for how people travel and the socioeconomic impacts of highways.