April 16, 2010


What Happens to Commuting When it is Disrupted by a Major Freeway Reconstruction Project? Insights from Fix I-5


One mile of Interstate 5 (I-5) in downtown Sacramento, California was intermittently closed for reconstruction (“the Fix? over nine weeks in 2008. We analyze the impacts of the Fix on commuters?travel behavior, as measured through two contemporaneous internet-based surveys. The passive impacts of the Fix do not appear to be excessive: majorities in all relevant subsamples did not find conditions worse than usual, and sizable minorities found them to be better. Among the active changes to commute trips, the easiest options ?avoiding rush hour and changing route ?were the most common (adopted by 48% and 44%, respectively). Among the changes that reduce vehicle-miles travelled, increasing transit use and increasing telecommuting were the most common (each adopted by 5-6% of the relevant subsample). Conditions, and commuters?behavior, apparently began to revert to normal as the Fix progressed. Binary logit models of the choices to increase telecommuting and increase transit use suggest that persuading current adopters to increase their frequency of use is easier than convincing nonadopters to start telecommuting or switch to transit. Women and those in larger households were more likely to increase telecommuting and transit use. Employer support of commute alternatives significantly influenced the adoption of both strategies.

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