Friday, April 07, 2006

Traffic observations

I rode in my car on the way to work today observing the always pleasant Friday morning commute. Traffic is usually lighter than usual on Fridays, which makes driving very nice and relaxing. No brake tapping. No lane changing. No congestion. Just smooth sailing all the way to work. Of course, the hind side to this is that Friday afternoon traffic is the worst of the week. How lighter than traffic in the morning can contribute to heavier traffic in the afternoon is beyond me.

Therefore, I took a look at stuff about traffic today on Wikipedia when I got into work. Here is a small snippet I found with some interesting information:

“Traffic congestion in the United States

In the United States, construction of new highway capacity has not kept pace with increases in population and car use and the resulting increase in demand for highway travel. Between 1980 and 1999, the total length of highways as measured by miles increased by only 1.5 percent, while the total number of miles of vehicle travel increased by 76 percent.

The Texas Transportation Institute estimates that in 2000 the 75 largest metropolitan areas experienced 3.6 billion vehicle-hours of delay, resulting in 5.7 billion US gallons (21.6 billion liters) in wasted fuel and $67.5 billion in lost productivity. Traffic congestion is increasing in major cities, and delays are becoming more frequent in smaller cities and rural areas.

The four areas in the United States with the highest levels of traffic congestion in order are:


    * Los Angeles

    * San Francisco

    * Washington, DC

    * Atlanta


Due to dramatic population increases, San Diego and Las Vegas have seen their congestion levels increase by more than 50 percent since 1982.”

Unfortunately, I live in Atlanta, which as you can see is the fourth on the list of areas in the US with highest levels or traffic congestion. Most of the congestion has to do with sheer volume. However, I drive on these highways and often wonder about the engineers who designed some of the parts of it. For example, on one stretch of highway there are two exits less than a mile apart, we’ll call them exit 7 and exit 8. Exit 7’s on ramp to the highway is just over .5 miles from the off ramp of exit 8. Add to that both are very busy exits, each leading to several very populated sub divisions. So, you’ve got a bunch of traffic coming onto the two lane highway from exit 7, and a bunch more traffic on the highway trying to get into the right lane at the same time so that can get off at exit 8. This turns into sheer pandemonium.

My solution, create a third lane on the right that only exists between the two exits. Much of the traffic on exit 7 is only getting onto the high way to get up to exit 8 anyway, because due to poor design there is no way to get between the two areas on surface streets. However, due to poor planning no one looked at this and instead we get the cluster every afternoon that happens between those two exits. What I can’t get my head around is that a mile north of exit 8, on a generic stretch of road with no unusual amounts of volume, the highway gets a third lane for no reason for almost two miles. There are no exits on this stretch of land, and no planned developments or anything as far as I can tell. It makes me wonder if this was just a mathematical error or if someone screwed up. I almost feel like yelling, “hey, road, you’re supposed to be back that way!”



Anonymous american flag said...

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11:26 PM  

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