What if we could help ease traffic congestion by merely installing traffic signs? Nothing fancy here. These signs would simply suggest a desired driver behavior to achieve a desired outcome: moving traffic along in a more expeditious manner.
Highways all over the country already have these. Imagine my awe as I rode past, staring at them with my mouth wide open as I had an “ah-ha moment.” There was a sign that blatantly said: “Steep Upgrade, Maintain Speed.” Wow, what an idea! A sign that strongly suggests that drivers hit the gas pedal to maintain speed because — pay attention now, this is deep — we are now driving on a steep incline on a highway, and in order to not slow the people down behind us, we need to STEP ON IT. What a novel idea! Why haven’t the transportation authorities in MD, VA, and D.C. metro area caught onto this??
Study explained traffic jams
Years ago, I remember watching a news story about a traffic study that explained why traffic jams and slowdowns occur on our highways. Among their conclusions were: (1) rubbernecking to see the source of a police stop; (2) rubbernecking due to a disabled car or accident; (3) sheer volume; (4) curvy highways; (5) hilly highways (the steeper the grade, the slower traffic gets); (6) construction and or repair.
We have many highways that are curved and are downright hilly in this area. I understand slowing down a little for curves in bad weather, but not to the degree that most people do. I’m quite sure they were built to accommodate highway speeds (at least during fair weather). But, for some reason, people don’t compensate for hills by simply accelerating. Guess they just feel that they don’t need to or are not paying enough attention to notice that their car is slowing down. I wouldn’t want to be a passenger in that car!
Wake up, people!
I believe that this problem could be helped just by strategically installing the right signage. Traffic merging onto I-95 North is always slow because there are two steep upgrades before you even get to Exit 33 Rt. 193. After this exit, traffic usually speeds up exponentially (with some exceptions, of course). I am convinced that merely suggesting that people accelerate to maintain their speed would go a long way to relieve congestion caused by hills. It’s worth a try!
Tell me…what do you think of this solution? Don’t be shy — leave a comment.
Today, I experienced a very common frustration for those of us who commute to work everyday — construction delays. While it’s great that, due to the Economic Recovery Act, money for construction projects has been flowing into Maryland, Virginia, and D.C., the unintended result is more construction delays — and misery — for commuters.
The route that I take to work is usually heavy with traffic. I choose this route because, even with lights and traffic, it is actually more tolerable than crawling along I-495 to work everyday. And, for the past several months, I have been enduring construction delays, resulting in even more increased traffic congestion and longer commute times.
We Need a Solution
One solution that I came across was Emily Cyr’s blog on How Fix Traffic Congestion, which asserts that we could use computer software that syncopates lights with each other on major routes to minimize wait times and move traffic along more efficiently. In other words, during rush hours, these lights could be constantly adjusted to accommodate and ease the inevitable traffic ebbs/flows that occur when crews repair roads during these hours.
Montgomery County is already using a traffic control system, which apparently has had some major kinks in the past several months. Judging from how bad my commute through the county still is every day, it probably isn’t geared towards construction delay workarounds such as the ones that Brian Park at the University of VA’s Center for Transportation Studies talks about.
I think that many different solutions applied at once would be the only way that we all would experience sustained collective commuter relief. As a worker who has to commute about 25 miles to work one way every day, I would certainly appreciate the relief that this solution would provide. The sooner we implement smarter traffic control systems, the better our collective commutes will be.
Yes, traffic has gotten much worse in the metro D.C. area. There are several problems that we have that aren’t being sufficiently addressed:
We don’t have enough roads/lanes/infrastructure to meet the demand. But there’s absolutely NO shortage of vehicles, though!
Our addiction to our vehicles has been neccessitated and fueled (pun intended) by urban sprawl due to out-of-control housing construction/expansion on every piece of land that is available.
Many of us in the Washington, D.C. area are college-educated or better. That means that the demand for white collar jobs is very high and ultracompetitive. However, most of the decent-paying (white collar) jobs are located in only a few major hubs (i.e Herdon/Tysons Corner, D.C., and Bethesda/Rockville/Silver Spring). This causes those of us who don’t also LIVE in these areas (because we can’t AFFORD it) to have to DRIVE to these areas in order to pay our bills because there are, oftentimes, no decent alternatives.
If more people had viable alternatives, like the option to telecommute, more schedule flexibility, convenient commuting/travel options, conveniently located workplaces, more affordable housing located closer to workplaces, expanded infrastructure, etc., we might really be able to lick this thing!
Welcome to the Baltimore-DC Traffic Frustration Blog. This is a place where I will vent about my frustrations driving in the Baltimore/DC area.