THE BOYS OF SPRAWL

Free-market think tanks are working hard to convince Americans that smart growth is a stupid idea. Government efforts to control urban growth, they say, are not only wrong but also doomed to fail because they ignore the enduring desire for a spread-out, car-centered way of life. They do not believe that urban sprawl contributes to traffic congestion, arguing instead that the dispersion of housing and jobs actually reduces congestion. They cite Census Bureau data that show commuting times, on average, have held at a tolerable 20-30 minutes. For all the intensity the marketeers can muster, their most intense passion is directed against mass transportation. Mass transit, all of them complain, is an expensive boondoggle that never will attract a happily dispersed population back to downtown areas. They contend that it would be cheaper to lease cars for all transit riders than to build 24 of the 25 new light rail and metro systems proposed in the United States. More than anything else, their strategies involve pricing mechanisms. To reduce suburban traffic congestion, for example, the free-marketeers propose equipping cars with transponders that would enable highway managers to charge variable fees for using roads. The theory is that fees would be higher to drive during rush hour, so some people would stay off the roads during busy times and that would reduce congestion. Antisprawl leaders, confident that they represent a genuine grassroots concern about patterns of urban growth, do not profess to be threatened by the challenge so far.

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  • Corporate Authors:

    Congressional Quarterly, Incorporated

    1100 Connecticut Avenue, NW, Suite 1300
    Washington, DC  United States  20036
  • Authors:
    • Conte, C R
  • Publication Date: 2000-5

Language

  • English

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; Photos;
  • Pagination: p. 28-33
  • Serial:
    • Governing
    • Volume: 13
    • Issue Number: 8
    • Publisher: Congressional Quarterly, Incorporated
    • ISSN: 0894-3842

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00793950
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 7 2000 12:00AM