Changes in traffic congestion and air pollution due to major roadway infrastructure improvements in Texas

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Science of the Total Environment


Traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) is an established health hazard, and roadway construction has the potential to affect TRAP by relieving congestion. The relationship between roadway construction and congestion is of policy importance, but few studies examine it using large samples of construction projects and detailed traffic and air pollution data. We create a dataset of construction projects in Texas and link them to data on air pollution and three variables operationalizing congestion: average annual daily traffic (AADT), AADT per lane, and delay in hours. We use difference-in-difference methods to estimate the effect of widening and intersection improvements on congestion and air pollution. On average over the period during construction, we find that widening increases delay by 42% (95% CI: 30, 56%), but intersection projects do not affect delay. On average and over the first three years post-construction, we find that widening reduces delay by 33% (95% CI: −41, −24%) and reduces NO2 levels within 500 m by 13% (95% CI: −22, −2%), and intersection projects reduce delay by 52% (95% CI: −65, −35%) and reduce NO2 levels within 500 m by 12% (95% CI: −18, −5%). These short-term impacts are relevant for understanding the impact of roadway construction on human health.


Government and Sociology

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