Thursday, February 19, 2004

The American Highway Users Alliance just released their new study on highway congestion. Washington DC area is home to 2 of the nation's worst bottlenecks. Tell me about it! The beltway has 4 major highway intersections: 1) 495/270 (7th worst bottleneck in the country), 2) 495/95MD (15th worst bottleneck), 3) 495/66, and 4) 495/95VA/395 ("The mixing bowl"). AHUA says "While the notorious Springfield interchange in Virginia, also known as the “Mixing Bowl,” has fallen off the rankings thanks to ongoing reconstruction at that site"....uh... the construction itself is a bottleneck... I am not prepared to say that the construction has HELPED anything yet!

I used to commute up 95 to the mixing bowl and go west/north on 495, go through the 66 interchange, to McLean. Now I commute up 95 to the mixing bowl and go east/north on 95, across the Woodrow Wilson bridge which is being replaced. So I currently commute through two very major construction zones. UGHH! I know all about highway congestion. For example, today I had an appointment 26.36 miles from my house, and it took 1 hr 20min to get there.

In 1999, the original Unclogging study identified 167 major highway bottlenecks in 30 states plus the District of Columbia where drivers experience at least 700,000 annual hours of delay. Using the same methodology and delay criteria, today’s report finds that severe traffic chokepoints have increased to a total of 233 bottlenecks in 33 states plus the District, a 40 percent increase. The study also provides detailed case studies on the nation’s 24 worst bottlenecks where drivers experience at least 10 million hours of delay annually at each site. In addition to Washington, these 24 top bottlenecks are located in 12 other metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Chicago, Cincinnati, Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Providence, San Diego, San Jose, Seattle and Tampa.

Let me put in my two cents here: A part of our bottleneck is that we have these lovely HOV (high-occupancy vehicle) lanes sitting basically EMPTY. Hello?! The I-95 lanes are HOV-3 THREE!!! Nowhere else in the region is HOV-3 ...they're all HOV-2. I would be very happy to implement Houston's HOT lanes... you either have 3 in the car to use the lanes for free, or you pay a toll to use the HOT lanes if you have less than 3 in your car.

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