University of California Transportation Center
Automating Urban Freeways: Policy Research Agenda
- Author(s): Johnston, Robert A.
- DeLuchi, Mark A.
- Sperling, Daniel
- Craig, Paul P.
- et al.
Population growth, continuing suburbanization, and higher labor-force-participation rates, combined with a virtual halt in new freeway construction, have led to rapid increases in traffic congestion in the U.S. This congestion is costly, for example, the cost of highway congestion in the Lose Angeles region is estimated to be $3.6 billion per year. Roughly half of this congestion is estimated to be caused by incidents, and 63% is on freeways. In the future, planners project that congestion will increase dramatically and that the proportion of delay on surface streets will increase, as congestion spreads. Automated freeways have been proposed as a solution to urban traffic congestion. Paper describes the staged development of automated urban freeways and then suggests a series of research topics related to the major policy issues of road capacity, air quality, noise, safety and liability, cost and equity, privacy, and organizational complexity. These difficult questions should be resolved before public acceptance for the technology is sought. Policy research on these matters should be carried out before or at the same time as the technology is being developed.