I am often accused of not appreciating the free market, so I want to be first in line with this one. The U.S. Census Bureau, through its on-going American Community Survey, compiles a variety of statistics about U.S. culture, lifestyles, and the like. My old Times Herald pal Robert Wilonsky at the Observer has an overview of the 2006 numbers, released yesterday.

What struck me is the time we commute to work in Dallas, which has not increased since 2002 (save for a bump in 2003 that went right back down in 2004). We were driving 25.3 minutes to work in 2002, and we were driving 25.3 minutes to work in 2006. The national average, on the other hand, has increased since 2002, going from 24.4 to 25 minutes.

That this number has not gone up does not, at first glance, make sense. We have more people, we have more sprawl, and we don’t have that many more roads. So why hasn’t the number gone up? Could commuters, faced with a choice between a longer drive to work and moving closer to work, have chosen the later? This is classic Adam Smith reasoning. (Hey, I paid attention during economics class.)

Does this also mean that new highways, like the Trinity toll road, are not the answer to traffic congestions?

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