Our intuition, at least as it relates to traffic, is wrong. Building more highways does not decrease congestion. More than 40 years of research data shows that building more road lanes actually increases traffic.
American history since World War II clearly illustrates that expanding roadways precedes population growth. Within five years, 90 percent of new American road lanes are carrying more traffic than designed for and the “relieved” roads are back to the same level of traffic that prompted the new construction, research illustrates. This is called “induced traffic” and “generated traffic” by transportation engineers. The appearance of speed and convenience of new roadways cajoles more individuals to drive more places more times until drivers are again seeking relief through more highway construction.