May 03, 2022
Chicagoland coalition calls to stop road boondoggles in regional planning
Wider roads only make transportation issues worse, we must invest in safety, equity, and sustainability.
ELPC joined a coalition of local groups with a new letter to the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning, calling for regional spending focused on safety, equity, and sustainability. Illinois has a rare opportunity to invest in smart transportation solutions, thanks to both federal and state infrastructure funding. Unfortunately, CMAP is advancing projects that would harm the environment and reduce safety by adding 122 additional lane miles of interstates and 55 lane miles of arterials to the metropolitan area. Our partners at the Active Transportation Alliance read the letter into the record at CMAP’s transportation committee meeting on Friday April 29.
In the letter, the coalition noted several key issues:
- Safety – It is well documented how recent spikes in traffic crashes, serious injuries, and fatalities can be attributed to safety issues on arterial streets. Widening them only makes these problems worse, with longer pedestrian crossing distances and more high-speed traffic.
- Congestion – Evidence shows adding lanes to expressways and arterials does not result in long-term congestion relief for people driving, because any new capacity is quickly filled up by additional cars and trucks. We need to fund projects that make it easier for people to drive less, not more.
- Environment – Widening roads encourages more people to drive, leading to more carbon emissions. However, CMAP’s current scoring criteria fail to account for this reality. For individual projects that add lanes to arterials, emissions impacts are not considered at all.
- Long-term costs – CMAP needs to develop a better way to evaluate and score these projects that fully accounts for their long-term impacts. We must use federal funds to prioritize projects that fix existing infrastructure and support multimodal travel above projects that expand road capacity.
Advocates are calling on CMAP to work with local partners and explore new USDOT tools to “better deliver on safety, accessibility, and connectivity goals.” Read the full letter here.