Monday, June 13, 2005

More efforts to get you out of the car

GPS per mile tax, variable-rate toll systems whose fees can change within minutes, increased gas tax, highways combined with traditional free lanes and toll lanes to give drivers and options when traffic gets bad.

As more and more cars jammed freeways, getting from point A to point B. is becoming a more difficult thing to do these days.

One suggested solution is to add tolls to our Oregon freeways.

Portland, Oregon, an article from KATU, comments about toll booths catching on and being the future of the highways.

Of course, seeing an opportunity to make more money, there is electronic pay, "Some days the toll is $2.00 and some days as much as $8 depending on how heavy the traffic is."

"It is, at once, a solution for easing the worst traffic congestion, raising money for cash starved roads and a big step towards bringing more time-saving, high technology tools to daily driving."

"Traffic managers, rely on a network of cameras and sensors, monitor conditions can change the toll as quickly as every six minutes. Electronic bulletin boards flashed the latest price before the entryway. (are we given the opportunity to turn around?)
Credit card size radio transponders on the windshield automatically bills a driver's credit cards."

"... to support mass transit, commuters buses are guaranteed access to the lanes, and toll revenues help support operations on the island breeze, the bus rapid transit system that carries 554 paying passengers a day"

Senator Bruce Starr, R-Hillsboro, commented in the Statesman Journal , that he envisions the two states public-private partnerships working together to benefit another of the biggest traffic jams in the state: the I-5 bridge between Portland and Vancouver Washington.

"in addition to more and better roads and smart transportation, the state will start a pilot program this year to test drive a tax by the mile system. Passenger vehicles in Oregon are currently taxed about $.24 per gallon, but fuel-efficient cars have translated into less money for roads."

Okay, I know that I am not a traffic engineer, I have worked with engineers in the past and sometimes they overlook the simplest solution.

For example, in Eugene/Springfield area, they are tearing up the four-lane I-105 to make it a 6 Lane highway. The problem I see with widening of freeway, is you just make a wider space for more cars to pile up on. It is similar to having a 5/8 in diameter garden hose with a half inch in diameter nozzle, you'll have a lot of water in a hose, but not very much coming out of the end.

Okay, here is the problem as I see it.

Traffic seems to flow just fine until you come to an offramp, where you have several things starting to happen.

1) People start to unnecessarily slow down to 45 miles an hour about a half-mile before reaching the offramp when there is no traffic in front of them, thus causing traffic to backup.

2) The offramp themselves are not long enough to act as a buffer to the first traffic control device encountered. Again traffic backs up.

3) People driving 45 miles an hour in the left lane causes congestion. In this area, I see a lot of that.

4) Traffic lights are more intelligent now, timing could be changed to accommodate higher traffic on the freeway offramp's during peak times. Of course, the other arteries will have to be taken into consideration as well.

I guess what I'm thinking is that there is a lot of solutions that are available without throwing a lot of money at it and costing us the drivers more money to encourage us to get out of our cars.

so would it be better to make longer more intelligent on/off offramp's?

Several years back in the local newspaper, there was an article where the city of Eugene had so many years to reduce vehicle traffic and get more people into mass transit or risk losing a large portion of their highway funds.

I have lived in Oregon the majority of my life, and I love it here, but it is getting to the point that I cannot afford to stay here.

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