It looks as if U.S. News based its new cover story on David Hartgen’s 2006 Reason study of traffic congestion problems across the country. I use the words “looks as if” because Hartgen is never quoted.

Perhaps the magazine should have read Hartgen’s more recent report before describing Charlotte’s plans this way:

[M]ore cities are looking to enhance public transportation options. In January, Denver opened new lines that more than doubled the miles covered by its light rail system, to 33. By 2017, the city hopes to have laid down 119 miles of track and 18 miles of bus rapid transit, at a cost of $4.7 billion. Charlotte, N.C., will unveil the first of what is expected to be a five-line rail system in November, joining cities like Salt Lake City and Dallas, whose low population densities don’t make them obvious candidates for rail. 

Here’s how Hartgen recently described Charlotte’s congestion predicament:

“Charlotte has a long-range plan and philosophy that is strangely disconnected from the needs of the region,? said study author David Hartgen, Professor of Transportation Studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. ?As citizens struggle to commute in increasing congestion, the plan?s focus is not on congestion relief ? arguably the No. 1 transportation issue in the region ? but on ?balance? and ?modal choices? that all agree will have no effect on congestion.

?This situation will evolve in one of two ways,? he added. ?Either the region will continue down its current path toward more congestion and less competitiveness while other regions prosper, or it will reverse course and undertake actions to get ahead of the problem. While there is some evidence that the region has at least recognized the seriousness of its predicament, recognition has not yet been reflected in actions. More needs to be done to bring this issue to the fore and to confront it.?