"Some cutting-edge transportation experts have startling news: Traffic congestion isn't entirely a bad thing. In fact, it's a good sign.
For what is congestion, these experts ask, but crowds lining up --- whether shoulder to shoulder outside a movie theater or bumper to bumper on the road --- to pursue activities with economic or social value?
'Congestion is a sign that a lot of good things are happening,' said Brian Taylor, director of UCLA's Institute of Transportation Studies.
That outlook is echoed by other nationally prominent researchers who are writing papers and delivering speeches with such titles as 'Learning to Love Congestion.'
Several of these contrarians also argue that officially touted costs of congestion have been overblown and that too much money has been squandered on expensive projects, such as the $4.5-billion Los Angeles subway, that offer little congestion relief.
Rather than endorsing such projects, a couple of experts suggest, a stressed-out motorist should take a deep breath, pop in a favorite CD and learn to tolerate --- even appreciate --- what sitting in traffic means.
'Congestion is inevitable. Get used to it,' said Anthony Downs, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, whose soon-to-be-published book 'Still Stuck in Traffic' will begin with a chapter titled: 'The Benefits of Congestion.' "