AXIOS CHARLOTTE — The bipartisan infrastructure law will distribute billions of dollars for road construction across the U.S., including $100 million to widen I-85 in Gaston County from six to eight lanes. But some say much of it will be in vain.
That’s because of a phenomenon called induced demand. It’s not a term everyone is familiar with, but it’s cropping up more and more in Charlotte. In debates over Chick-fil-A drive-thrus. After announcements about broadening roads. In recent news about a pitch to build a bridge over the Catawba.
So, why does NCDOT keep widening roads? Urban design specialist Eric Zaverl of Sustain Charlotte says the state is “on autopilot” building highways. “This is real, this concept of induced demand, and most traffic engineers know this,” he says. “But they’re also stuck in a closed system where there is no choice.”