Video: Fixing Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

The Reason Foundation, a think tank which promotes free market solutions to society’s problems, produced a video of a presentation on a study on how to solve Chicago’s traffic congestion issues.

The study, based on market-based solutions, actually came out last year, but Reason only posted the video in the last few months.

The study suggests a combination of user fees, electronic tolling and new financing methods to reduce congestion and the number of hours drivers spent stuck in traffic. The two researchers say congestion costs the local economy billions of dollars every year.

If you have a half hour to kill, it’s certainly an interesting and enlightening look at Chicago’s traffic situation.

8 Responses to Video: Fixing Traffic Gridlock In Chicago

  1. david says:

    Wow. What a horrific set of proposals. It does nothing to support alternate forms of transportation. The longer term future of transportation should not focus on the car as the primary mode of transportation. What we should be doing is encouraging alternate transportation for the mundane tasks such as going to and from homes to downtown. Those tasks are well suited to clean, safe public transit. This, in turn, would free up streets and resources for those that need to drive.

    The City should also create a number of “super roads” such as Irving Park, which have limited Pedestrian Crossings, bans of parking, enhanced intersection control and no bicycles. And the City should create parallel to these “super roads” other streets which are bike and pedestrian (and perhaps Bus) friendly and car unfriendly. This gives the cars the higher speed roads while providing proper roads for the rest of us.

  2. OIFVet says:

    “Staley said also said the widespread use of tolls is “ripe for a broad range of innovative finance techniques that dovetail with approaches envisioned for the new Chicago Infrastructure Trust” that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has introduced”

    Translation: privatization. And we all know how that’s working out for Chicago: lifetime leases of public assets at far below market values, high user fees for the public, and high risk-free profits for the politically connected corporate recipient of city government largess. “Market-based” solutions in Chicago are anything but. No thanks. I would happily pay for congestion tolling provided it doesn’t go to profit crooked corporations and corrupt Daleys but is used to invest in improving the commons. This proposal will not do anything of the sort. Some things should never, ever be privatized and infrastructure is one of them.

  3. B says:

    Simply put, it’s not market based if it’s a government enforced monopoly. There is never any intention to end monopoly with the so-called ‘market-based’ solutions. The solutions aren’t market based, they are just new ways to extract monies from the people who have no choice but to use what the monopoly offers.

    A market based solution would be open competition which drives prices down, not up. Insider monopoly solutions of course are what government offers and they call that ‘market’ and ‘privatization’.

  4. david says:

    You can’t have “open competition” or a “market based” solution for infrastructure. You can only have one road running down the current site of Irving Park Road. You can only have a finite number of bridges over the Chicago River. You can’t run a “Nixon” Expressway parallel to the Kennedy. This is one of the major reasons that we form society and have a Government. To do things for the common good that are either impossible or impractical and are of sufficient public importance that we do not want the “profit” motive to take away from services. The question is not whether we should have such items (all but the most extreme Libertarian/Anarchists would agree that we must have some Government) but rather what services fall within the responsibility of the Government.

    Most people would agree on Infrastructure such as Roads, Sewers, Gas, Electricity delivery systems.

    MOst people would agree on Police, Fire and National Defense.

    Many people would agree on Education of Children and basic social services.

    Many people (although fewer than for Education) would agree on “public arts and education” (NEA, PBS, and the like)

    Many people would agree on health care.

    The devil is in the details, not the concept.

    But this proposal appears to be one from the extreme libertarian/anarchist view of Government.

  5. Steven says:

    This really isn’t a fix. Its a tax to prevent behavior. Demand will still be up. This is the exact same thing as a congestion charge in London.

  6. The Parking Ticket Geek says:


    Your “super roads” concept is a very interesting one. I really like your thinking on this.

    The problem I have with CDOT is that they don’t seem to be open to new ideas from outside their immediate circle. CDOT often has some really great ideas (ie: giving peds a three second head start at some intersections, left turn signals AFTER the green cycle, etc.) but also a lot of bad ideas (speed cameras, etc.).

    Great ideas can come from all sorts of places, but I don’t think CDOT is very open minded to even trying new ideas.

  7. Jeff says:


    I like your idea of an Irving Park super road/other super roads as well. The only thing that I would want is a requirement that any required/non-emergency work on such super roads (resurfacing, sewer upgrades, streetscape, etc.) be done all at once every 5 years. As it stands now, Irving Park Road gets torn up just about every year for some project. If that state of affairs is allowed to continue, then the super road becomes a super parking lot.

  8. B says:

    Let me know when government confines itself to building and maintaining common interest infrastructure. That would be a vast improvement over what exists today.

    The bigger problem is the rest of that list. Your ‘most people’ don’t have a clue as the true nature of the institution of government and those who operate it and have influence over those who operate it. This institution does not have people’s best interests in mind. It has the best interests of those who have influence over those who operate it in mind. That’s why as government gets bigger and bigger we get poorer and poorer and that tiny 1% gets wealthier and wealthier and more powerful. It also cannot accommodate individual choice. Only the free market can do that. Of course we can’t have that in the things that matter, only the things that don’t matter.

    George Carlin made an excellent presentation of that point.

    I’d rather live with the inconveniences of freedom than the alternative.

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