Sustain Charlotte shared the following comments with Charlotte City Council at the January 11, 2016 public hearing on Managed Lanes:
Case studies from around the nation demonstrate that, in rapidly growing metro areas, adding general purpose lanes does not work as a long-term strategy to manage traffic congestion. A new general purpose lane may very well reduce congestion for years or even a decade, but what inevitably happens in a growing region is that this additional lane fills up with traffic and the congestion problem is perpetuated.
We live in a metro area that is predicted to have the second-fastest growing population in the U.S. Charlotte’s population is projected to grow by 71% between 2010 and 2030. There is simply no way we can meet the transportation needs of our current and future residents by continuing to build more roads and widening existing roads as we have in the past. Eventually we’ll run out of space and have to displace residents (at great expense) to keep up with demand for additional road capacity. The long-term health and sustainability of our environment, our economy, and the quality of life for all of our region’s residents is at stake.
There’s no such thing as a “free ride” on any road. The true cost of using roads is far higher than the price we pay at the dealership, at the pump, and in our vehicle registration fees. Vehicles are becoming more fuel-efficient. And that’s a good thing for the environment and our wallets, but it also means that the cost of building and maintaining roads is no longer covered by gas taxes and vehicle registration fees.
Managed lanes don’t reduce the road capacity currently available to drivers; they provide another choice for drivers who pay for a faster trip. The major benefit of managed lanes is that, in contrast to general purpose lanes, they provide an incentive to ride transit or carpool, because buses and carpools of 3 or more people will be able to use the lanes for free and benefit from the same reliable travel time that toll-paying single-occupancy vehicles on these lanes will experience.
Managed lanes will provide reliable travel times, but more importantly: fast and convenient commutes for express bus riders and carpoolers.
The traditional model of building and paying for roads no longer works. Never before has the need for a new model, and the potential for encouraging sustainable modes of transportation, been greater.
We are optimistic that 5 or 10 years from now, our policymakers and planners will be discussing how to expand the transportation network outlined in the 2030 Transit Plan, and not having to deal with congestion issues caused by a short-sighted decision we made the first time around.
We urge you to leverage a managed lanes strategy to equitably and sustainably meet the transportation needs of Charlotte’s current and future residents.