Sweden is known for many beautiful things, and its outstanding road network is one of them. According to World Atlas, Sweden is one of the countries with the best road connectivity in the world. The country is also frequently included among the nations with the safest roads in the world.
If you thought that’s all there is to Sweden and its newsworthy roads, you’re in for a surprise as a plan to expand a Stockholm highway into a whopping 18 lanes is underway. According to Trafikverket (the agency responsible for the expansion project), the 18-lane highway will “relieve the arterial roads and the inner city of traffic and reduce the vulnerability of the Stockholm traffic system.”
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Sadly, not many people share a similar enthusiasm for the project as the Swedish Transportation Authority does. In fact, if the reactions to a post on the r/f***Cars subreddit are anything to go by, the project is concerning and worthy of criticism.
A Redditor, Hiioora, posted an image of the proposed highway expansion on the anti-car subreddit and tagged it an “infrastructure gore.” Its caption read, “This UC section of E4 Stockholm will have 18 lanes across + 2 lane byroad.” As expected, most community members didn’t find the news pleasing and took to the comment section to express their misgivings.
“What a monstrosity. Where is this?” a commenter typed. Another said, “This looks horrible. Maybe it’s needed and useful; can’t judge on that, but it certainly looks awful.” In the words of a third commenter, “This is a huge failure of governance, especially in a country like Sweden. Look at how much forest is gone with this image!”
For another Redditor, whom we presume to be a local, “The more central route called Essingeleden will probably just fill up with more induced demand, which means more traffic on all streets in the center. And the ‘bypass’ will allow for faster car journeys between suburbs, allowing more people to commute from suburb to suburb by car and inducing more traffic.”
One thing is clear—the community’s negative reaction to the development is largely rooted in their general aversion to cars. Nevertheless, there are genuine questions about the project’s actual benefits.
Based on some studies, expanding highways is counterproductive because, contrary to popular opinion, it doesn’t ease traffic congestion. More than just this, it also contributes to environmental degradation by worsening air and noise pollution.
“Expanding new roadways creates easy and open stretches of driving to new and further away places, which winds up attracting more drivers. Some give up carpooling, using active transportation like walking and biking, while others give up mass transit,” a blog on the Science Museum of Virginia website reads.
The blog referenced a study by the National Center for Sustainable Transportation, which revealed that expanding a roadway by 10% will likely increase the number of vehicles that will ply that route in the short term by up to 8%. The long-term increase was put at up to 10%.
So, Trafikverket’s highway expansion plan may seem like a laudable one on the face of it. Sadly, based on these reports, it may not be the wisest approach to improving the traffic system as intended.