- The Washington Times - Monday, January 15, 2001

The Census Bureau tells us the population of the United States is tickling 300 million with an explosive increase of 10-15 percent during the past decade or so. We'll add another 20-30 million in an equal number of years, if current trends continue.

Result? We'll be going nowhere soon or at least, no faster than anyone else. People old enough to remember the world that existed before the 1980s will be the last generation of Americans for whom the concept of going for a "Sunday drive" will not seem prima facie evidence of dementia. Ubiquitous, inescapable traffic will be the great equalizer in 21st century America. Unless steps are taken to inject some market discipline into what historically has been a "free" commodity that has a very real price. Only lately are we becoming acquainted with this fact. HOT lanes which are basically toll roads that operate on the fee-per-use principle, would be a reasonable and practical way to inject some market forces into what has become a miasma of failed policy.

This, of course, is the fundamental issue at the core of the debate over "gridlock" and road infrastructure and until is is addressed, there will be no appreciable relief from traffic congestion. The more roads are built, the more roads will be used. Absent HOT lanes, the problem is only going to get worse.


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