|Jason Hoover / flickr|
There are significant advantages to developing light rail for transportation within urban areas. Light rail systems have larger capacity for passengers. Track consumes less area of the city than a network of roads and highways. These advantages translate into less urban traffic congestion and greater efficiency for moving large numbers of people.
While the advantages are significant, the costs of developing light rail are substantial. The cost of most light rail systems ranges from $15 million to $100 million per mile. By comparison, a freeway expansion typically costs $1 million to $8.5 million per lane mile for two directions. While road projects typically are done in rural areas and suburbs, light rail projects are done in urban areas where right of way and property acquisition is expensive.