Seventeen years ago, a storm knocked out Klingle Road, a crucial east-west artery in Washington D.C. Property owners adjacent to the road realized that their property had suddenly become far more valuable, as it now abutted a quiet park rather than a busy street, and used their political capital to prevent the city from repairing the street. In a triumph of spin, they have even renamed the street "Klingle Valley Park." And the "Klingle Valley Park" property owners' interest in maintaining their inflated property values is more intense than the general interests of D.C. drivers who want to make the difficult task of getting across town somewhat less difficult.
Matthew Yglesias writes approvingly:
If you opened a new road, that would ease traffic. Which would make driving more attractive. In which case, somewhat more people would start driving to work on their daily commute. So in the end, you'd have the same congestion problem, but a higher overall level of pollution.
This is the kind of thing that makes people like me, who are generally friendly to environmentalism, want to go out and buy an SUV and mow down some endangered species. If we're going to try to encourage public transit by making life hard for drivers, why do it by randomly closing roads that happen to run through wealthy areas whose residents have the clout to keep them closed? Why not jack up the tax on cars, or have the city periodically scatter shards of broken glass in the streets?