While the state argues with environmentalists about needed environmental abatement in the project to widen I93, we should all take a moment to consider the social implications of the plan. Wider roads will inevitably lead more people to commute greater distances to work each day.
Whatever the causes of road rage, we can all acknowledge that time spent in the car is not quality time. Incidents of road rage are at their highest in areas where commuting times are the greatest — think of LA and Washington DC. With large numbers of southern NH residents now working in Massachusetts, we can already see the effects. The Union Leader reported Sunday of a stabbing believed to be related to road rage.
If we can take one lesson from the past century of road building, it should be that new, larger roads have never eased traffic problems but that they instead increased sprawl and steadily increased average commuting times. And still, the roads are crowded. Anybody who’s really interested in this might want to look for Divided Highways: Building the Insterstate Highways, Transforming American Life by Tom Lewis.