Asphalt Alternatives

The monorail, a futuristic idea once touted at world's fairs, ended up mostly moving Mousketeers around Disney parks and shuttling people around Seattle, home to the 1962 World's Fair.

But voters in that city just gave a green light to expand their monorail by some 14 miles, which will likely reduce city traffic and pollution, despite a $1.7 billion price tag.

Perhaps the national mood for mass transit is shifting. The Seattle vote can be compared to another decision in Washington state,where citizens voted not to approve $7.7 billion for more highways. In Virginia, voters also chose not to pay for more highways, even though the metro D.C. area has teeth-grating traffic tie-ups.

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While Americans and their cars are not easily parted, they may be deciding that laying down more asphalt is less and less an answer to all the problems caused by more and more vehicles. State legislators and transportation planners can note that alternatives like monorails or light rail can do much to ease the daily commute for workers.

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