Charlotte’s roads are crowded. Is the solution more roads or fewer drivers? (WSOC-TV)

WSOC-TV road image

Photo: WSOC-TV

Whether on a highway or cruising across SouthPark, if you’ve driven around the Queen City then you’ve likely encountered a traffic gridlock.

The City of Charlotte has been working with the Metropolitan Transit Commission on its own massive transportation plan aimed at efficiently moving the millions who live, work and travel through the county every day.

Sustain Charlotte has been advocating for more transit investment and a sales tax increase for years with the hope it solves the city’s traffic problem by getting more drivers off the road.

“If we continue on the same path of only building roads, and only offering anybody who lives in Charlotte or visiting Charlotte, to be forced to drive a car, and there’s no other options, we’re not really solving anything,” Sustain Charlotte Urban Design Specialist Eric Zaverl said.

Instead, Zaverl believes investing more in roads and especially widening the city’s major thoroughfares could actually make Charlotte’s traffic worse due to a concept called induced demand.

“Even double that road, that people were driving only on, it would fill up and then you’d still have that same problem,” Zaverl said. “You can triple it, and it’s still going to fill up.”

The theory, based on decades of traffic studies, is that wider highways, with the promise of more space for travelers attract more single-occupancy vehicles to fill the space they’ve created because the drivers are foregoing other options and at the same time, everyone is still trying to get to and from the same place.

Sustain Charlotte believes light rail would be the most efficient way to move commuters, followed by bus rapid transit, which uses dedicated lanes to establish a right of way favoring transit.

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