CONTACTTRAFFICABOUT TOM VANDERBILTOTHER WRITING CONTACT ABOUT THE BOOK

‘The Perfect Highway Would Have no Onramps’

I’m quoted a bit in this piece by David Filipov in the Boston Globe about the travails of merging in Massachusetts. One of the main issues seems to be a variety of design standards, each with its particular codes of behavior:

“State highway officials are aware of the yield problem. Neil Boudreau, State Traffic Engineer for MassHighway, experiences it every day on his commute to Boston on I-93. It’s more of an issue for the state’s older highways, he said. Although they have been upgraded to meet national standards for speed limits set out in a guideline Boudreau calls “The Bible,” many Massachusetts roads “were designed for a different era.”

Today, the Commonwealth builds roadways with a longer acceleration lane for drivers entering the highway. (Take, for example, the Big Dig.) The new onramps don’t need yield signs because drivers going at the same speed in the same direction are able to merge easily, Boudreau said.

But as a result, there can be different rules for different onramps, sometimes on successive exits. At Exit 7 of Route 3 in Plymouth, the connection with the new, high-speed section of Route 44 features the newfangled onramps, but Exits 6 and 8 on Route 3 are old-style, with shorter acceleration lanes and a yield sign.”

It’s actually a bit ironic that longer onramps need to be built today, as cars accelerate much faster now than they did in the days of those short ramps; the problem, I suppose, is that mainline flow is going much faster and there’s so many more merging interactions these days.

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This entry was posted on Monday, October 6th, 2008 at 10:52 am and is filed under Drivers, Etc., Roads, Traffic Engineering, Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 Responses to “‘The Perfect Highway Would Have no Onramps’”

  1. 2fs Says:

    “going mu”? Uh, they’re cows? They’re going so fast the rest of the sentence has traveled ahead in time?

  2. Peter Says:

    i thought the same thing when they started installing meter lights on the on-ramps on the 101 – the wasteland of urban decay that stretches from San Francisco down to god knows where. my old car didn’t like having to come to a complete stop, and then swallow half a tank of gas to accelerate again. i was like, ‘f this’ – and got rid of the car a few months later. happy, since! :-D

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Traffic Tom Vanderbilt

How We Drive is the companion blog to Tom Vanderbilt’s New York Times bestselling book, Traffic: Why We Drive the Way We Do (and What It Says About Us), published by Alfred A. Knopf in the U.S. and Canada, Penguin in the U.K, and in languages other than English by a number of other fine publishers worldwide.

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