From the Examiner:
A report finds that the Washington region will see congestion increase by 50 percent over the next 25 to 30 years.
An infrastructure analysis by the Urban Land Institute says the Washington area’s population will grow by 23 percent during that time, and that the region is financially unprepared for the increase in drivers.
Increases in the cost of fuel are clearly resonating with the public at the moment, but that’s just one of several important factors to consider when planning infrastructure investment. It would be impossible to pave the region’s way out of this mess. Congestion tolling is obviously on the way; that will help ensure that the roads don’t bog down entirely, but it will also place additional pressure on existing transit infrastructure. And all these trends point toward an increase in housing demand in transit-accessible neighborhoods and in the center generally.
If we hope to keep the area mobile, we have to combine congestion tolling with a general increase in transit–heavy rail, light rail, commuter rail, buses, and so on. If we hope to keep housing affordable in the region, we have to do the same thing. The more transit-accessible homes there are, the lower the premium on those homes. And obviously, it’s important to build densely as much as possible, given zoning and community constraints.
We shouldn’t look at growth as a negative. It’s a testament to the region’s strong economy, and it will have many positive benefits. The extent to which the positives outweigh the negatives will depend upon our willingness to invest in appropriate infrastructure.