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Reason Foundation

$52 Billion Plan to Reduce Traffic Congestion In Chicago

July 19, 2012, 10:00am

A new study finds Chicago has severely underinvested in expressways and urges the region to embark on an ambitious long-term road-building plan. The Reason Foundation's Galvin Mobility Project plan proposes 11 major transportation projects that would add 2,401 new lane miles of expressways in the region, reduce the time that Chicagoans spend stuck in traffic by 90 million hours a year and add $2 billion a year to the regional economy by 2040.   

“Expressways make up just 18 percent of the Chicago region’s road network and yet they handle over 53 percent of the vehicle miles traveled,” said Reason Foundation Vice President Adrian Moore, the study’s project director who served on Congress’ National Surface Transportation Infrastructure Financing Commission. “Between 1982 and 2010 travel demand increased 126 percent on expressways but the number of lane miles increased by just 57 percent.”

The plan’s 11 projects, which would cost $52 billion to build, could be financed entirely by toll revenues from the new lanes and roads, meaning drivers and businesses would get major infrastructure upgrades and new transportation choices without tax increases.  

“The people who use these roads and tunnels will pay the costs to build and maintain them – as it should be,” stated Reason Foundation Senior Fellow Samuel Staley, author of the report and managing director or the DeVoe L. Moore Center at Florida State University. “By using variably-priced tolls, Chicago can guarantee both free-flowing traffic conditions and a sustainable revenue stream that ensures the long-term health of the road network.  And many of these projects would be ideal candidates to be part of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Chicago Infrastructure Trust.”

The Reason Foundation transportation plan for Chicago includes: 

“Chicago’s population is going to continue to grow. And the current long-range plans acknowledge that traffic congestion will continue to worsen and take billions more out of the region’s economy,” Staley said. “The Reason Foundation plan will reduce congestion, shorten travel times and provide workers and businesses with options and flexibility that save time and money.”

Full Report Online

The full study is online here (.pdf). 

Reason Foundation’s transportation research is here



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