Prop 104: Adding More Light Rail Will Worsen Traffic Congestion & Air Pollution

By Martha Moneypenney

The proponents of building more light rail portray it as a means of reducing traffic congestion and air pollution. A superficial assertion that every person riding the light rail is a person not driving a car implies that light rail must be reducing congestion.

This assertion is misleading. Granted, a person riding the light rail is not adding a car to the traffic mix. However, adding the light rail trains to the street traffic mix more than offsets the subtraction of automobiles.

Light rail tracks eliminate two lanes that autos might have used. Squeezing six lanes of traffic into four lanes inevitably slows traffic.

Light rail tracks block autos from turning left into businesses on the other side of the street. Complex maneuvers involving driving further down the street and executing a U-turn also slow down traffic.

The Central Phoenix/East Valley Light Rail Project: Final Environmental Impact Statement prepared by Valley Metro ran computer simulations of traffic with and without light rail. Their finding was that adding light rail increased traffic congestion by almost 1%.

Now, increasing congestion by less than 1% isn’t much, but should we really spend billions to make congestion even a little bit worse?

The Valley Metro study also projected a small increase in air pollution from adding light rail to the transportation system. Again, this is a small impact, but do we really want to spend billions to make air pollution a little bit worse?

Time is our most precious resource. We shouldn’t be burdening taxpayers in order to build a rail system that will consume more of our time in traffic congestion. Neither should we be burdening taxpayers in order to build a system that will degrade our air.

Vote No on Prop 104.

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