The U.S. is choking on its traffic and it’s going to get worse

The report to be released Wednesday shows that traffic delays in most parts of the country have bounced back to pre-recession levels. That undermines the hope that three trends — telecommuting, the movement of people back to cities and a decline in millennials seeking driver’s licenses — might provide an antidote to congestion.

And with the U.S. population projected to grow by 70 million in the next three decades, there is little chance that the transportation network can keep pace with that growth or alleviate the current crush. In other words, it’s going to get worse.

“If you look at corridors like the Capital Beltway, it’s going to be hard to figure out how you scale up to make it accommodate another million people, 20 or 25 percent more travel demand,” said Tim Lomax, co-author of a joint report by the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the traffic monitoring firm Inrix. “We need to figure out how to use our existing capacity smarter.”

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