Byron Schlomach

More Roads to Travel: A Path to Transportation Solutions in Arizona

Posted on April 30, 2008 | Type: Policy Report | Author: Byron Schlomach
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Executive Summary

Arizona has a transportation problem. The average Phoenix commuter spends some 38 hours a year stuck in traffic, and one in Tucson spends an average 42 hours. Overall, traffic congestion costs Arizonans at least $2 billion annually in lost time and wasted fuel. The state must take action on a number of fronts to ensure that transportation problems do not damage Arizona's economy and quality of life.

  • Create a new transportation funding mechanism toll roads. Arizona should actively pursue a toll road policy, which would make it possible to build needed roads now, rather than decades from now. A toll road in San Diego only 10 miles long will allow many commuters to shorten their drives by 20 minutes, allowing many to have dinner with their families for the first time in years.
  • Build more roads. The state desperately needs an east-west alternative to I-10, bypassing Phoenix and Tucson and could have such a road sooner if toll financing were used. Other construction recommendations are discussed in the report.
  • Consider tolls or congestion pricing to reduce traffic at peak hours. Fully half of the people on the roads at peak times are not commuting to work and could be encouraged to travel at a different time with toll incentives.
  • Minimize expensive, inflexible mass transit and legalize flexible, private mass transit. Phoenix isn't dense or centralized enough to be a good candidate for mass transit. Many countries have private systems using small vans and buses to transport riders on very flexible schedules and routes. Arizona should legalize this approach.
  • Amend Arizonas constitution so that the Arizona Department of Transportation can avoid having to purchase state land. Currently, it is illegal for the Arizona State Land Department to turn property over to any state agency for any purpose. ADOT must buy the land, with proceeds going to public schools. Requiring the state to buy land from itself often makes building new roads cost-prohibitive.
  • Implement known techniques to improve traffic flow These include signal synchronization, building grade separations, converting streets to one-way, and adopting restrictions on truck lanes. Smart road technology, such as dynamic signage, can help. The effectiveness of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) versus general-purpose lanes should be evaluated.

To improve transportation, policymakers should embrace a variety of approaches that harness, rather than direct, market forces and the personal preferences of Arizonans.

Read More Roads to Travel: A Path to Transportation Solutions in Arizona here.

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