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Widening roads causes bigger traffic jams

Tuesday - 11/8/2011, 7:13am  ET

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

WASHINGTON -- If you widen a road, will it simply fill up with more cars?

Transportation leaders are debating that question as they try to deal with the region's congestion.

Arlington County Board Chairman and Transportation Planning Board member Chris Zimmerman takes a look at the question, using Interstate 66 as an example.

"All the experience and history tells us, (if you widen a road) you'll just wind up with a bigger traffic jam. You'll be right where you were at eight lanes as you were at six lanes," says Zimmerman.

He says in reality, some of the worst traffic jams on I-66 happen where the road is wider.

"And there are reasons for that. If you are going to relieve congestion in that corridor, you are going to have to create alternatives that move people more efficiently," says Zimmerman.

His congestion suggestion revolves around enticing more people into using public transportation. He says even a small shift in the number of people who take public transportation can have a profound impact on clogged roads.

"When you put people in buses, every bus that's full is taking 40 cars off the street," says Zimmerman.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)