Tool estimates increased traffic, pollution from road projects

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A new tool can estimate the increased traffic and pollution resulting from proposed highway expansions.

The State Highway Induced Frequency of Travel (SHIFT) Calculator will enable transportation agencies to account for the principle of induced demand in the planning and implementation of highway projects.

RMI, a nonprofit organization transforming global energy systems through market-driven solutions, the Natural Resources Defense Council, an international nonprofit environmental organization, and Transportation for America, an advocacy organization, developed the calculator.

“Road expansion projects have failed to deliver the promised benefits,” Ben Holland, RMI Urban Transformation Program manager, said. “In fact, the evidence shows that they actually make traffic and pollution worse. To achieve U.S. climate goals, we must reduce the amount that the average person drives by 20 percent. This tool shines a light on the impacts of highway expansion and shows how these projects often move us away from our goals.”

Billions of dollars have been spent on highway expansion projects intended to alleviate road congestion but result in more cars on the road.

The SHIFT Calculator is based on RMI’s Colorado Induced Travel Calculator. That tool shows how proposed and in-progress road expansions would increase vehicle miles traveled by up to 3 percent by 2030.