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Old December 13th, 2008, 05:09 PM   #3441
J N Winkler
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
Actually, I believe Houston's congestion dropped by a few percent in the last two years, while the urban area increased hugely. Dallas has a considerable amount of congestion, but I believe the other major cities (San Antonio, Austin, El Paso etc.) have only minor congestion.
The large cities in Texas I have visited include DFW, Amarillo, El Paso, and Lubbock. I never observed significant congestion except in DFW. It is indeed true that the suburbs in Collin County (north of Dallas) have grown enormously just in the last twenty years, and this has necessitated an extensive program of roadway improvements.

Since 1990, TxDOT has widened US 75, replaced the US 75/I-635 partial cloverleaf interchange with a five-level stack (the Dallas High Five), put in place an interim HOV widening on I-635 while planning a much more ambitious widening which has been the subject of a CDA procurement for a while now, and built some segments of the new SH 121 freeway. TxDOT is also planning a massive widening of I-35E. Between 1998 and 2003, TxDOT also built a massive five-level stack (really a rival to the High Five) to allow the PGBT to interchange with I-35E.

The other major provider of freeways in the DFW area is the North Texas Tollway Authority (NTTA), which has built or is building the PGBT, the DNT extension, the Lewisville Lake bridge, and the parts of SH 121 it bought from TxDOT.

At the moment both agencies are struggling for funding. The credit crunch makes it difficult for both to issue bonds (which TxDOT is reluctant to do in any case because its leadership is reluctant to encumber the department with debt--but TxDOT recently received bonding authority from the Texas Legislature in lieu of an increase in the gasoline tax, and there is pressure on TxDOT to use it even in the present unfavorable financial climate). There is a possibility that Barack Obama's incoming administration will expand funding, possibly by increasing the federal gasoline tax but more probably by a short-term increase in debt, but we will need to wait until late January or early February to see what becomes of the current round of stimulus proposals.

Quote:
Kansas City, on the other hand, has a bit oversized freeway network, but also has very few congestion. Traffic volumes are also quite low in the Kansas City area. On I-35, there are barely over 150,000 vehicles a day, which is quite low for such a vast urban area.
Let me assure you, I-35 in the Kansas suburbs of Kansas City is plenty busy during the rush hour. The part of I-70 between downtown Kansas City and I-435 is also unpleasantly congested, as is the eastern flank of I-435.

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Oklahoma City is similar, with very few congestion and I've read it takes only 30 minutes to reach downtown from the furthest ends of the urbanized area during rush hour. Those are distances over 15 miles.
30 minutes to traverse 15 miles is still an average speed of about 30 MPH. During the peak period I-35 operates at a mediocre LOS (not helped by the single-lane exits along the I-40 dogleg) and indeed I-35 has had to be widened between Norman and Oklahoma City proper.

Michael Koerner is correct to the extent that there is generally very little peak-period spreading in most Midwestern cities. However, there is typically a short period during the peak when the LOS on most freeways in a typical medium-sized Midwestern city (urbanized area population 500,000 or more) is just as bad as it is in much larger coastal cities during their peak periods. The difference is that the coastal cities tend to operate at LOS E or worse during much greater proportions of the day. Midwestern cities are also more likely to suffer from point bottlenecks (system interchanges and the like) because the short and sharply defined traffic peaks make it more difficult for agencies to justify programming early capacity expansions and debottlenecking improvements at those locations. In a medium-sized city like Wichita, for example, you can usually count on maintaining at least 45 MPH on the freeways at the absolute peak of peak period unless you have to change direction at a system interchange. If you are unlucky enough to have to do that, you will find that negotiating the interchange takes about 1/3 to 1/2 of your travel time, much of it at the classic LOS F stop-and-crawl.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 12:41 AM   #3442
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Houston would be a prime example of a city that has built itself out of congestion a couple of times now.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 10:35 AM   #3443
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Interestingly, they don't have a very dense freeway network. Most radial freeways are spaced quite some distance apart, in contrast to say New York or Los Angeles.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 07:58 PM   #3444
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Quote:
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Interestingly, they don't have a very dense freeway network. Most radial freeways are spaced quite some distance apart, in contrast to say New York or Los Angeles.
Houston has an IMMENSE freeway network. It is a classic hub and spoke system. They need commuter rail to relive congestion or else plan on having 20 lane mega freeways everywhere.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:05 PM   #3445
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I think that it is all relative among us Midwesterners - everywhere else in the USA's Midwest, it is still the 'rush minute' instead of 'rush hour'. Also, I have never had problems with severe traffic congestion when trying to get around on Chicago's city surface streets. Chicagoland has much bigger roads and highways than most of the rest of the Midwest, too.

BTW, traffic is much worse in the Chicagoland suburbs than it is in the city, mainly due to there being far fewer available surface street routes for the land area and population than there are in the city.

Mike
You don't live in Chicago do you?
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:17 PM   #3446
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They need commuter rail to relive congestion or else plan on having 20 lane mega freeways everywhere.
You need to change the spatial planning of Houston to make commuter rail having a chance to be actually some kind of alternative.

Some people just think money grows on trees, and trowing a couple of commuter rails through it makes all congestion suddenly dissapear. Why would a DOT bother spending half their budget on a modality only 2 - 5% use?This discrepancy between budget spending and actual usage is a problem for any DOT. You can spend money only once, and it better be on something that would be useful to most people possibly.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 08:44 PM   #3447
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Cincinnati. Left: Kentucky, right: Ohio. notice the I-275 on the right (beltway) and the I-471 in the center, and I-71/I-75 in the upper part.
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Denver with the I-25 on the left and I-70 on the upper part
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Denver from the opposite side
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:08 PM   #3448
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Originally Posted by ChrisZwolle View Post
Cincinnati. Left: Kentucky, right: Ohio. notice the I-275 on the right (beltway) and the I-471 in the center, and I-71/I-75 in the upper part.
http://farm1.static.flickr.com/43/12...0689fd62_o.jpg
I see the Great American Ballpark near the Ohio river

I went to the National League match between the Cincinnati Reds and the San Diego Padres there.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:08 PM   #3449
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10ROT must like this; a freeway tour of Hartford, CT



By FreewayJim
Thanks! It must have been done on a weekend though...roads seem a bit quiet.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:22 PM   #3450
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Detroit Michigan Freeway tour:
What a missed opportunity. That guy took a lot of cheap shots at Detroit, and also missed many of the landmarks that you can see from the city's expressways. Of course, it didn't help that a major section of I-75 is closed for reconstruction. Still there's a lot to see on I-94, M-10, and the North segment of I-75 is a pleasant drive.

Last edited by Paddington; December 15th, 2008 at 09:31 PM.
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Old December 15th, 2008, 09:32 PM   #3451
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I liked the Hartford video, but the videoon the previous quote says "This video is not avaliable in your country or domain". Anyway, Hartford seems to have quite good freeways.
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Old December 16th, 2008, 12:23 AM   #3452
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I think I saw more left-side on/off-ramps in the Detroit video than I saw right-side on/off-ramps...
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Old December 17th, 2008, 01:33 AM   #3453
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Major highway work coming:



Drivers, get ready to see red, as in brake lights

More roadwork planned for 2009

Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Last updated 1:00 a.m. PT

By AMY ROLPH
P-I REPORTER

Planning to stress less about traffic in 2009?

You might add avoiding the highways to your resolution list.

The coming year will bring a huge amount of roadwork to Washington's highways, including a major refinishing of Interstate 5 through Seattle and an overhaul of the Interstate 90 floating bridge west of Mercer Island.

The construction season for the Puget Sound region will start early and end late -- and hundreds of thousands of drivers will likely be affected at a time, state Transportation Department officials said Monday.
Roadwork map

The Puget Sound region hasn't seen this level of road-related construction in decades -- if ever, agency officials said Monday.

"This is going to be the worst year yet in terms of construction," said Lorena Eng, the Northwest region administrator for the Transportation Department. "A lot of it has to do with the age of our infrastructure."

More than $279 million will be spent on road projects in King and Snohomish counties in 2009 -- up from about $162 million this year.

And though the increase in spending might seem to fly in the face of the state's $5.8 billion deficit, transportation officials said Monday that they will actually be stimulating the economy by creating hundreds of construction jobs.

The state is facing intense deadline pressure to get the region's aging highway system repaired quickly -- preferably before the start of major projects such as the state Route 520 overhaul and the Alaskan Way Viaduct reconstruction. And the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, B.C., will complicate things even more with huge increases in northbound traffic.

"It's going to be the largest and probably the most challenging construction season we've put together to date," said state transportation spokesman Travis Phelps. "The work needs to happen now."

Arguably, the largest project will impede weekend and nighttime traffic on I-5 through North King County starting as soon as February, as crews replace 40-year-old cracked and crumbling pavement. About 440 concrete panels will be replaced between South Boeing Access Road and the northern boundary of King County.

The project will result in lane closures on weekends between February and August (excluding July) and weeknights from June through September -- though traffic will be able to move through at least one lane at all times.

But even though the repairs will take months and likely be a noisy process for those living or working nearby, it's a quick fix. More work will be required as the freeway continues to age.

"This isn't the total replacement or the total fix -- we're just buying some time," said Jim Farris, the I-5 project engineer.

The region's other major traffic interruption will likely be related to the replacement of expansion joints on the I-90 Homer Hadley Memorial Bridge -- just west of Mercer Island. Express lanes will be completely closed May 4 to 23, and the highway's westbound lanes will be closed July 5 to 28, meaning westbound commuters will be forced onto the newly open express lanes.

Transportation projects aren't funded by the state's general fund, which is facing a nearly $6 billion shortfall for the next 2 1/2 years. The state's 2009 projects are chiefly paid for by transportation taxes.

But the projects come at a time when Gov. Chris Gregoire is pushing construction projects as a key part of kick-starting the region's economy. Roadwork is likely to be a big part of a job-related stimulus package the federal government will unveil next month.

It wasn't clear Monday how many total jobs would be created by 2009 highway projects. But transportation officials estimated that there would be hundreds in the Puget Sound region, saying a three-year project to rebuild the Nalley Valley Viaduct on state Route 16 in Tacoma alone would call for 200 workers.

Because of the faltering economy, construction bids have been coming in much lower. The I-5 project will cost the state about $21 million -- about 37 percent less than originally anticipated.

Other major construction projects in the region include:

# The Battery Street Tunnel on state Route 99 will see weekend closures during October and November -- and overnight closures on weeknights from December through spring 2011.

# A state Route 519 overpass will be built, and the corridor will be widened starting in February, closing South Royal Brougham Way for as many as 15 intermittent weeks and Third Avenue South for 15 months starting in March.

# Across the Sound, the Hood Canal Bridge will be closed and rebuilt from May through mid-June, forcing thousands of drivers daily onto alternate routes or ferries.

Much of the day-to-day closure information for next year has yet to be determined. Drivers can find out more in coming months at wsdot.wa.gov/ .
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Old December 17th, 2008, 01:53 AM   #3454
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I will say though that in his world, that "Freewayjim" guy is king. He's like the Steven Spielberg of urban expressway drive throughs. I wish he had done a better job of Detroit though.

This drive through of I-280 (the least travelled of Toledo's 4 urban expressways) features part of my 22 mile daily commute:



I take the northern segment of this road, and the excellent Veteran's Glass City Skyway bridge each day.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 05:25 PM   #3455
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Very nice! I do like American roads in general.
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Old December 17th, 2008, 08:53 PM   #3456
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The Interstate on the video looks quite European IMO: 2×2, the overpasses, the exits (not too short exit ramps)
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Old December 18th, 2008, 02:52 AM   #3457
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I beg to differ. Doesn't look anywhere like European motorway. When you drive on European rural motorway, you still somehow get an urban feeling, but driving on American urban freeway, it still feels rural. Maybe it's just me...
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Old December 18th, 2008, 04:13 AM   #3458
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Best Detroit expressway landmark: the giant Uniroyal Tire

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Old December 18th, 2008, 12:16 PM   #3459
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Von Königsberg View Post
driving on American urban freeway, it still feels rural. Maybe it's just me...
I noticed that too. Except for most downtown/commercial area's, you usually only see trees. I think living in that kind of suburbia is much better than say the European new urban areas of flats, rowhouses and nearly no trees.

One thing I also like about American suburbia is that people can park their car on their own lot or in their parking garage. In the Netherlands, all residential streets are filled with parked cars to the maximum. It gives an ugly view. Every spare room that's not someone's garden, sidewalk or playground has parked cars, even when there isn't a official parking space. I had to park my car on the green strip quite often (dozens of people do so) due to the lack of parking space.
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Old December 18th, 2008, 12:55 PM   #3460
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I-10 Katy Freeway in Greater Houston
[IMG]http://i42.************/126cope.jpg[/IMG]

I-610 Houston
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I-45 Houston
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I-610 Houston
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SH-288 Houston
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US 59 Houston
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I-45/I-10 from JP Morgen Chase Tower, Houston
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I-45 Houston
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All pics from Flickr.
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