More development and increased populations mean more traffic in multiple Sunbelt metropolitan areas:
In most U.S. cities, traffic is less congested than it was in 2019, as fewer people commute to offices, according to mobility data company Inrix. In some Sunbelt cities, such as Miami, Nashville and Las Vegas, where the population has surged in recent years, it has become worse.
These cities also attracted more companies and tourists during the pandemic. Local roads, built decades ago for a much smaller population, are struggling to accommodate the new reality.
“They way underestimated their growth,” said Robert Cervero, professor emeritus of city and regional planning at the University of California, Berkeley, College of Environmental Design…
Sunbelt cities are particularly vulnerable to congestion because of poor public transit. Driving in New York City’s rush hour can be bumper-to-bumper, but many people take the subway. Most southern cities offer no such alternative…
For now, Sunbelt states are hoping to fight congestion by adding more roads and express lanes. Tennessee lawmakers are considering a proposal to add toll lanes on state roads. Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis recently proposed spending more than $5 billion on highway construction and more than $800 million on rail and transit throughout the state.
Growth is good in the United States – until it threatens some of the attractive features of places that brought people there in the first place.
At what point do residents and businesses not move to growing regions because of congestion? These Sunbelt cities continue to have numerous attractive features even if they have more traffic.
Adding lanes to roads may appear proactive but it can lead to more attractive as more drivers think there is capacity. Considering mass transit is necessary but complicated by suburbanites who do not necessarily want transit to reach them, high costs to get basic mass transit in place (though this could help save money down the road), and limited interest in denser development.
Do smaller cities offer advantages here? I have heard this argument before: you can have more rural property conditions within a ten to twenty minute drive of the main shopping areas or the downtown. Achieving this is more difficult in a more populous area where there is more competition for land.