Friday, August 19, 2005

Hot over HOV Enforcement on I-95

There has got to be a smarter way to do this. The Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star describes the nightmare that ensued yesterday when a dozen troopers with the Virginia State Police staked out a spot near Newington and began ticketing vehicles without the required three people. Imagine if the HOT lanes are actually built on this corridor, and a similar enforcement strategy is used...

Says the story: "They nailed 52 violators, but also managed to back up traffic about eight miles, making some commuters an hour or more late to work.

"Police spokeswoman Corinne Geller said her agency was not trying to make a bad week worse. The day for the enforcement was chosen well in advance to make sure enough officers were on duty, she said.

"Troopers often will ticket violators as they exit the HOV lanes, but stationing them on the road itself, as they did yesterday, is another method police use, she said.

"Unfortunately, this morning, this particular technique proved to be counterproductive to traffic flow," she said.

"In a news release, Col. W. Steve Flaherty, superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said his team worked in the HOV lanes from 6:15 to 7:30 a.m., calling off the operation after realizing how badly traffic was backed up. That enforcement technique is under review, the release said."


At 8:44 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

But they are illegal. We need to round them all up and send them all back home no matter what it costs.

At 11:46 AM, Blogger subpatre said...

[hackles up, rant mode on]

Excuse my lack of concern for this ‘nightmare’ of delay, while I fuss over the local ‘inconvenience’ of body bags and torn limbs. It’s incredulous when there’s no state money left for rural areas to patch high-fatality primary roads; the funds pre-empted by the ‘urgent needs’ of NoVa and metropolitan commuters.

In rural areas, where weather can delay or close roads, people have to make hard choices about their place of employment and housing. High wages can be had with long –and sporadically unreliable—drives. The result is that those who want higher, urban-level wages must move closer to their employment.

Apparently, urban workplaces expect, even demand, perfect unfettered access for their long-distance commuters. If it’s a ‘nightmare’, it’s one of their own making. Land-use placing high employment in areas that limit housing crowds employees onto the highways in long commutes.

Urban wishes should get no pity until VDOT projects use justifiable criteria for priorities: fatalities, injuries, property damage, and delay; in that order. The idea of reasonable precedence doesn’t mean expressways to nowhere; sight grading, shoulders, some culverts and a few straightened curves are the chief needs.

At 2:17 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Hey, we agree. I told my supervisor six years ago that every county road should at least have the white shoulder stripes - even if it is too narrow for a center line. No action yet.

Giving people a fighting chance of identifying a curve might keep some kids and the elderly on the road. Dropping a tire off the right side is no joke around here. BTW I notice that in MD the standards for shoulders appear to be better than in VA - even for the same class of road.

Even though rural roads are more dangerous than city streets, they represent the major, already built, excess capcity in our road system. It seems to me that we would like to see them not only better, but better used as well, so as to capitalize on our investment.

This implies that we need to find a way to move some of those higher, urban level wages to where the roads are. Of course, they will not be such high wage jobs because part of the reason employers pay those wages is because they have to in order to get people to accept the higher living costs and other urban hassles.

Historically, jobs follow houses, as is currently being demonstrated in PW county. If we delay housing through proffers or impact fees and every other sort of delay we can devise, then we delay the movement of jobs, and we delay road improvements as well.

We pay the price for these policies in higher home prices, less competitive businesses, as well as body bags.

Culverts need to be carefully contoured and graded, otherwise they are notorious killers.

At the same time, the urgent needs of metropolitan areas exist partly because funds have been funneled downstate for years. If, in spite of that rural needs are still not met, then it is yet another indication that the road problem is going to take more money, unless gas prices go a lot higher.

Even that won't solve urban congestion problems caused by too many people in one place. We are going to need more land and more money, and we will need a lot more villages and towns if we hope to have anything that is near walkable. Those villages and towns will have to be connected - with still more roads.

Just today I read yet another article bemoaning the loss of rural character in Frederick County. "When we moved out here there was no one here", the predictable quote went, "I'm not sure I want to see the road paved."

Why is it the people who have already moved are the ones that decry new development?

In another story an Afghan visitor was marvelling at a visit to Wal-Mart. "It is bigger than my village", he said. Last week I spent the time at the Denver Tech Center: a campus of high rise office buildings and hotels on the outskirts of Denver. The buildings were placed on nicely landscaped grounds, interpersed with parking garages and connected by extensive walkways.

Aside from a total lack of culture of the type associated with downtown areas, one reason the walkways weren't much used was because the place - even the buildings themselves were a hike from one end to the other - was just too big to walk.

If it had been more mixed use, it would still be to big to walk.

That is why we build roads.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger Will Vehrs said...

It's damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Gridlock causes people to drive like maniacs when they see daylight up ahead. Enforcement exacerbates gridlock. Just a police cruiser by the side of the road causes rubbernecking delays for miles.

I come down on the side of enforcement, but not the petty pulling over of somebody going 80 on a clear stretch. Get the fools who weave in and out of traffic at high speeds, passing using all lanes and tailgating.

At 9:11 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

Will: 80 is damn fast anywhere, otherwise, I'm with you. I think the 5% rule applies here: 5% of drivers cause 95% of problems.

When I was reverse commuting I used to see a guy periodically reading the sports page while westbound on route 66. I have observed and identified other drivers as habitual offenders of one kind or another.

If I can casually pick these bozo's out, why can't the police? I've often said if I was a cop I'd pick one of these guys, turn on the video and follow them for ten miles, then stop them and write a dozen tickets.

At the same time much of our problem is our own fault. Merges are jammed up because those on the highway won't leave a space for those merging. At the same time, if you leave a space for them to merge, the merging traffic will drive right by, all the way to the end and then jam in. I thinke they should put rumble strips on the merging lane and gradually turn them into increasingly aggressive speed bumps, to encourage people to merge ASAP.

How many times have you seen a jammed up merge, only to find the traffic moving smoothly after the area of uncertainty is passed? We should require and teach zipper merges and enforce them.

Instead, we have radar traps.

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Will Vehrs said...

I've often thought that low-flying helicopters should ride over traffic and drop paint bombs on cars whose drivers are a menace or are incompetent. Your merge example is a good one. When oncoming traffic tries to give a merging car a spot, the merging car driver is doing her nails or picking his nose. The accelerator and the brake need to be used. Drivers need to be concentrating not just on their little world, but how what they do affects the traffic behind them.

A lot of gridlock is caused by poor or inattentive driving.

At 6:35 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I've often wanted an old muffler under the car with an electromagnet to wake up tailgaters.....

Try it yourself, you can open up a a a space ten cars long to let people merge and they will drive right by.....

Stay in line, take turns, don't push....

Every day you see someone who has plowed into the back of the person ahead and every day you see people tailgating who exhibit a total lack of imagination as to what can happen, then of course there is the bumpersticker: I'm not tailgating - I'm drafting! ....

My absolute favorite peeve is the guy who pulls of on an off ramp, uses it as a passing lane and re-enters the highway at speed across the hash marks.....

It is 6800 times safer to ride the train....


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