The proposed plan to expand a highway in Stockholm, Sweden, into a massive 18 lanes has sparked outrage among internet commenters. A rendering of the expansion, shared on the r/f***cars subreddit, was labeled as “Infrastructure gore.” The caption described the project as an 18-lane section of the E4 Stockholm highway with an additional 2-lane byroad.
Research has shown that highway expansions often have the opposite effect of reducing congestion, instead leading to increased traffic and contributing to air and noise pollution as well as environmental degradation. Despite this knowledge, governments continue to pursue such projects.
The Swedish Transportation Authority, Trafikverket, claims that the expansion will relieve traffic on arterial roads and within the city, making the Stockholm traffic system less vulnerable. However, studies on highway expansions suggest otherwise.
A blog post on the Science Museum of Virginia website summarized research conducted by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, revealing that expanding roadways attracts more drivers. People give up carpooling, walking, biking, and mass transit in favor of driving on the new and extended roads. The study also found that a 10% expansion of roadways could lead to a 3%-8% increase in vehicle miles traveled in the short term and an 8%-10% increase in the long term.
Unsurprisingly, members of the anti-car subreddit were displeased with the rendering of the 18-lane highway expansion. Commenters expressed their disdain, calling it a monstrosity and sarcastically pointing out that some forests were left intact. They also criticized the likely increase in induced demand and traffic on all streets, as well as the potential for faster car journeys between suburbs, promoting more people to commute by car and further inducing traffic.
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