Getting people from place to place in sprawl-choked communities is costing us dearly.
Once the concern of a few big cities, massive traffic jams have become commonplace across
the country. The average American driver spends 443 hours every year -- that's 55
eight-hour work days, or 11 weeks of work -- behind the wheel.
And all that driving means more air pollution. Cars and trucks are among the largest
sources of smog and cancer-causing pollution in America, spewing out 12 pounds of cancer
chemicals annually for every person in America.
States that are doing the best job challenging sprawl are the ones that recognize the
connections between sprawl and transportation. Sprawl spreads out everything, making trips
longer and driving mandatory. Studies show that residents of sprawling communities drive
three to four times as much as those living in better-planned communities.
Adding new lanes and building new roads just makes the problem worse. New highways are
the number one cause of sprawl, according to American Farmland Trust. Build them, and the
traffic will come. They may give short-term relief, but long term they just encourage more
There are three measures we used to determine a state's performance in this category:
(1) how much money states are spending per person in their urban areas on transportation
choices like commuter trains, bus service, light rail and even walking and bike paths; (2)
how well states are taking care of the road systems they already have; and (3) how much
the mileage-driven-per-person increased between 1992 and 1997.
Rhode Island has maintained and expanded its rail, ferry and bus systems in the face of
federal funding cuts, committed real money to make walking and cycling safer and improved
citizen access to the transportation-planning process.
Rhode Island has pursued a "multi-modal" approach to transportation planning
-- giving citizens the choice to hop from a train to a bus, or from a bus to a bike, and
making it easier to get around without a car.
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- New York
- South Dakota
- New Hampshire
- North Dakota
- West Virginia
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
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