The Transportation Regulatory Threat to the U.S. Economy

Presentation by Wendell Cox to the American Highway Users Alliance Conference in Washington, DC (23 June 2010).

There are proposals to expand the restrictive land use regulations and anti-automobile policies that have been adopted in places like Portland (Oregon), California, Seattle and other areas to the rest of the nation.

These radical land rationing or densification (smart growth) policies would lead to greater traffic congestion, more intense local air pollution and longer travel times by failing to provide sufficient roadway capacity for growing demand. Because of the association between superior mobility (minimized travel times) and economic growth, such policies are also likely to constrain job creation and lead to higher rates of poverty. Finally, the slower, more "stop and go" traffic would increase greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) per mile (because fuel efficiency declines markedly in congestion), which could cancel out any GHG reductions from reduced levels of driving.

In addition, smart growth rationing policies, which contributed so substantially to the housing bubble and subsequent bust would substantially increase the price of housing in more affordable metropolitan areas, such as Atlanta, Indianapolis, Dallas-Fort Worth, Houston and others. In these metropolitan areas, house prices were kept within historic norm, even during the housing bubble, as their more liberal land use regulation permitted sufficient housing to be developed to meet the increased demand from more profligate lending policies.

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