Do Shiny New Roads “Only Make Idiots More Dangerous”?

We hear the arguments again and again from DOTs: they need to widen
highways and expand interchanges to improve safety on the nation’s
roads.

Streetsblog Network member The Political Environment, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, sees it differently: 

3371733664_98b68c311e_m.jpgPhoto of the Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee by TracyJ_Brown via Flickr.

[M]ost
fatalities on the road are caused by speed, alcohol or other factors
tied to driver inattentiveness or indifference, and spiffy new lanes
and perfect pavement only makes these menaces more dangerous.

Twice in the last two weeks — once on Madison’s beltline
heading west and once in the gaudy new Marquette Interchange — I was
nearly sideswiped by motorists on my right who changed lanes without
looking… I find the new Marquette more hazardous for motorists who
want to exit westbound at 26th or 35 St. as they have to move quickly
to the right into traffic coming from behind coming downhill from high
ramps feeding in from the Hoan Bridge or I-43 south.
The new Marquette induces speeding — smooth pavement, gravity, the
perception that the whole machine’s alleged efficiencies are there to
make your trip faster have created a Death Valley in the interchange
just past the Marquette University campus.

It’s the stupidity factor that kills people on the
highways, and I am convinced that WisDOT’s rebuilding and redesigning
schemes only make idiots more dangerous.

A recent article in Popular Mechanics came to a similar conclusion.

More from around the network: WashCycle writes about the advantages of lefty bike lanes; Cap’n Transit wonders what to do about transit labor costs; and the National Journal wonders whether reducing vehicle miles traveled should be a national transportation goal.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

STREETSBLOG USA

Estranged Bedfellows: Trains and Conservatism

|
It’s not really clear how this fits with an agenda of fiscal conservatism, but for some reason passenger rail has become a scapegoat for the political right. From New Jersey to Ohio and Wisconsin, Republican executives are calling off passenger rail projects with great fanfare. Perhaps the most flamboyant opponent is Wisconsin Governor-Elect Scott Walker, […]
STREETSBLOG USA

Wisconsin Spends on Billion Dollar Interchanges While Potholes Swallow Roads

|
An excellent recent Politico article “Overpasses — A Love Story” — took a close look at the policies of Republican Presidential hopeful Scott Walker and his big, big spending on highway infrastructure in Wisconsin. It’s a pretty sick dynamic. Highway interchanges in the state are becoming increasingly astronomical in size and in cost. And all that spending on road expansion […]
STREETSBLOG USA

More Money Won’t Fix U.S. Infrastructure If We Don’t Change How It’s Spent

|
“America’s infrastructure is slowly falling apart” went the headline of a recent Vice Magazine story that epitomizes a certain line of thinking about how to fix the nation’s “infrastructure crisis.” The post showed a series of structurally deficient bridges and traffic-clogged interchanges intended to jolt readers into thinking we need to spend more on infrastructure. The idea […]