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Testing the Conventional Wisdom about Land Use and Traffic Congestion: The More We Sprawl, the Less We Move?, Working Paper 13 Open Access

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We explore relationships between seven dimensions of land use in 1990 and subsequent levels of three traffic congestion outcomes in 2000 for a sample of 50 large U.S. urban areas. Multiple regression models are developed to address several methodological concerns, including reverse causation and time lags. Controlling for prior levels of congestion and changes in an urban area’s transportation network and relevant demographics, we find that: housing-job proximity is inversely related to commute time; density/continuity is positively related to roadway ADT/lane and delay per capita; and housing centrality is positively related to delay per capita. Expect for proximity, the results suggest that congestion is not directly related to land use patterns as claimed by conventional wisdom.

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