December 18, 2007
Traffic Stinks? The Hell you say!
A couple points related to this article in the Everett Herald on a dreadful problem with suburban congestion:
1) The story isn't particularly well reported. The headline and much of the text focus on increased bus use as the supposed solution to the traffic woes in question. However, the component of the plan most likely to reduce or mitigate congestion is buried in the last sentence: "the county also plans to better synchronize traffic lights and consolidate business driveways in future years."
Better traffic management on the existing roadway - which I can personally attest is mind-numbingly wretched - is much more likely to be effective than expecting local bus service to dramatically improve traffic on a major suburban arterial. Those that think otherwise are living in a special place, for which there is professional treatment in our modern world.
2) Is anyone surprised that the Growth Management Act coupled with inconsistent oversight from a multitude of different - and sometimes competing - local governments didn't lead to desirable results?
Posted by Eric Earling at December 18, 2007
07:49 AM | Email This
1. Not to mention that 164th is the major route to get to the Ash Way park and ride......
2. And on the other end of the sound they found that adding more lanes helped traffic flow over the Narrows. Shock. So of course the price is going up now. Another shock.
Eric, you were just a young pup when traffic in the Mill Creek area was being addressed. First, they stopped development on the Bothell-Everett Highway and had trouble getting money to widen the road to its existing configuration (the villain- I-90 sucked up all the State money as the gold-plating on that project went into overload and the greediest city was Mercer Island). I-90 set back any hopes of the State keeping up with transportation needs. That was the mid- to late-80s.
However, the biggest blunder was made by Brian Corcoran and the Democrat County Council when they refused to vote for another east-west arterial at about 180th St. SE. Today, just think about it and how much better traffic would be if they had the foresight to build that east-west corridor.
When your kids are your age, you will be regaling them of similar stories, especially abut the third north-south freeway east of Bellevue that could have and should have been built but wasn't because of Democrats.
4. I'm in the asphalt business; if you think the price of gasoline/diesel for your auto's has gone up dramatically - you wouldn't believe what has happened to the cost of liquid asphalt, which is a huge % of our overall cost. Road prices will continue to rise as these major cost factors increase...sorry!
5. I agree that traffic light synchronization would help a lot. For instance, in Pierce County, where 512 east and west feed off onto Canyon Road, which is very busy anyway, there are four traffic lights within two blocks, none of them synchronized to aid traffic flow. Consequently, it can take up to ten minutes to get through less than two blocks of traffic. Some of the solutions are so simple, it is mind-boggling they have not been implemented.
Yes, I travel down Canyon regularly and agree completely on that. But at least we are getting new lanes on Canyon - three GP lanes each direction all the way down to Graham. Perhaps when they are done with the lane additions they will also synchronize the lights... we can hope.
Solution is simple: build more roads everywhere.
I've started to ride the busses recently because I moved teams to work in the downtown Seattle area. There's no way I can get there in a timely manner, so I have to ride the bus. The bus is much more uncomfortable than the busses I rode in Korea, which were apparently built in the 40s and 50s and stink like leaking diesel. I would much rather see competition in the bus service market so that I can choose which bus to ride and how much I pay.
But you know what? Without roads, the busses get stuck in traffic all the same.
Remember, based on the democrats positions on taxes (they want to raise rates and lower revenue) and congestion (don't build any new lanes anywhere) it's apparent that they want to see everything fall apart so that they can usher in a new age of socialism and communism. They don't stand for anything that's good for the people, not anything.
Another missed issue by the pathetic, losing GOP in this state: the GMA. It has created massive sprawl, encourages less enviro friendly development, and artificially raised property values.
The GOP needs to come out and articulate the disaster that is the GMA. It will help the GOP in elections, help the environment, and help the poor. The GMA is a massive failure, and so is the Washington state GOP for not being more vocal against it.
9. They were too, AP. You just weren't listening.
10. wait till the powers that be realize that toll roads can be money streams like the New York state thruway and the Ohio turnpike.
And all this while have the *highest gas tax* in the country, 36 cents/gal, raising to 37.5 cents next July. What did I get for my nickel + 31 cents? Some very pretty bus exits that I can't use and the same congestion on I405, I90, and 520. No new viaduct, no new 520 bridge.
Last time this topic came up some joker told me that I was not being patient and that just because they took my money does not mean that the roads magically appear. To address this proactively, they have completed the I405 construction from I90 through Kirkland and no more is planned. I got nothing for my money.
Not loud, often, or articulate enough. It should be one of the top issues in the GOP platform and should be in the daily talking points.
Once they start collecting tolls on roads, think of all the metal fish sculptures they'll be able to afford to put on the overpasses!
What a great place to live!
14. Do you know a better place?...if so, why are you not there? :)
Don’t you guys get what is going on in transportation? The “powers at be,” are deliberately making traffic more congested to the point of grid lock just to get us all to ride mass transit. Mass transit meaning, streetcars, light rail and bus rapid rail. Not good ole gas buses.
Be weary of the words “traffic calming” that are newspeak meaning hostile to vehicles. Traffic calming measures include: speed bumps, rotaries, bike lanes on both sides of the street to take a full car lane and no parking.
What they are creating is air pollution, road rage and lost tax revenues from businesses due to gridlock.
Mass transit and getting people to ride it is an illusion. The only places where mass transit pays for itself: New York, London and Tokyo. /I bet there are some other cities on the world where it pays for itself./ But the point is, the only US city where it pays for itself it New York. Notice that the list of cities sited above has a very high concentration of population.
I still believe that the American dream is alive and well. I work to own a home and a car!
16. We have lots of "roads" but not much highways. The lack of highways are the bottleneck. Case in point: Central Avenue in Kent -- this road stays bottled up from 2pm to 7pm every day! Reason is that Central, Canyon, Kent-Kangley are doing the work that a limited access highway should be doing to move people all the way from Maple Valley to I-5. 18 is great, but it does the wrong direction for many commuters.
I too think traffic stinks. There isn't enough money in all the state budget to fix the traffic mess as soon as it needs to be fixed. Therefore, one needs to get smart. One can start by driving less. How? By driving smarter, combining trips, and maybe even saying no to the kids running you all over the countryside for this activity and that activity. Long term, we do need to build better roads instead of the hodge-podge that exists with intersections that cause bottlenecks, including traffic lights every few feet. Hasn't anyone in road planning heard of access roads? It seems every mall or shopping center that goes up has to have its only right-away onto the main thorough fare. This is plain and simple stupid planning.
Just my two cents.
18. Hmmm How long have they been working on 405? what 10, 12 years?
More roads - yes. But placed smart.
I'm probably understating it but there must be at least a dozen major north south corridors within the City of Seattle. The east side between the two lakes has maybe half that?
Don't build more new roads out in the middle of nowhere, build more roads inside of where our region has already developed.
That will ease congestion, and expand choice, without creating ever increasing areas of ill-served sprawl.
New York has a lot of mass transit, they also have a lot of parallel corridors of traffic lanes serving different kind of transportation patterns.
20. I really have to wonder when it comes to our freeways here. Now why is that in San Diego they built I-805 from the Mex border to La Jolla with 4 to 5 lanes per side and it only took 5 years to build it.
A dozen major north-south arterials/highways from South Seattle into North King County. This I gotta see.
And BA, ever been to North Bend and Issaquah lately. Hardly pristine "nowhere".
Now let's hope one of our Ferries don't sink! 0-:
23. Problems w/be solved if we could just 'pave over' Lake Washington...just think how many lanes we could have.
24. #18, construction on 405 is nothing compared to Hwy 18. This highway was under construction to widen into 4 lanes when I first moved here in 1990, and they still haven't finished the job after 17 years. If it takes 20 years to add a lane for a high way that is less than 50 miles, we are seriously hopeless.
LOL, what a great idea, but I do dive there? Hmmm
Remedy, all we ask is for you trolls to bring the A-game, but we do accept the B-game. But, there were a 100 retorts you could have used than the one you used. Didn't even rank as a D-game. You can do better.
And Medic, I think the ferries were at least two of BAs north-south throughfares from South Seattle to North King County.
If you're sitting in suburban traffic I can tell you that it's not rocket science why. All you have to do is look at two decades of land use approvals, pull out all those "funded" road projects that were a condition of approval, and then ask yourself why they never got built?
Then look at the subsequent impacts of all the approved growth over the last couple decades, and ask yourself why government planners didn't see it coming with their "trusted" traffic models and get the roads improved?
The answer to both questions is the same. Government is more interested in revenue generated by permits than doing honest analysis or meeting its commitments to enhance capacity to support growth. In fact, government literally does the opposite of what it should do to enforce the law, and perform honest impact analysis. And I do mean the opposite.
28. who's 'we' swat; have a mouse in your pocket or delusions of grandeur?
29. 'We' would be 'me' and 'swat' and your latest post was still a 'D game' effort. Maybe 'swat' was wrong... Maybe you can't do better.
Let's see, the bridges over the canal total 5 (Ballard, Aurora, Fremont, I-5, University. Feeding those crossings include multiple arterials such as 15th W, Dexter or Westlake, Fremont or Stoneway, Roosevelt and 11th, 23rd, 15th NE or Montlake. Additionally north add Greenwood, Lake City Way and Sand Point, South add MKL way, 1st Ave, 4th Ave, Highway 509, East Marginal Way, Rainier Avenue.
My point being lots and lots of choices.
I've been to Issaquah recently - you're right Swatter - nothing pristine any more there.
The last set of studies I believe I saw for I-605 looked at corridors that ran from Centralia to Mt. Vernon - out around North Bend. I think where we need more lanes are not between North Bend and Monroe, but between those towns and the ones with jobs - Bellevue, Seattle, Redmond, Kirkland, etc.
31. 'd' games rule in Seattle...i.e. 'Hawks always bring it 'a' games are for true metro cities
so there nya nya
BA, I admit I haven't travelled those bottle-necks for several decades, but back then, it took a long time to go on 99/Aurora from S. Seattle to North King. All those roads hardly qualify. And unfortunately, you really can't widen any of those- like for a dedicated light rail/bus lane. I used to do it for the fun of it.
If I am going to Green Lake/ Sonics, I'll slip off I-5 at 80th and wind around to Aurora. But, those roads ain't pretty.
But, the third freeway, which, again unfortunately, is dead but I will continue to bring it up. Maybe it will sink in.
And while I agree that more lane capacity is needed in the density center, Freeman did predict that it would reduce congestion by 18% for the same cost as light rail for the same price but only a 1-2% reduction.
I've read that 80% of automobile traffic consists of people running errands.
I'm about to "go all hippie on ya".
I note that the worst traffic time on I-5 in Seattle is Saturday afternoon. People filling their lives and living rooms in a futile search for the perfect fluff from Ikea and Nordstrom.
The traffic problem is caused in large part by advertising, ennui and hope the missing thing or experience. Perhaps the solution to traffic problems would involve re-directing our hunter gatherer instinct to encompass the whole 24 hour clock.
How green I am.
Looking forward to seeing the mayor doing his shopping after 9 PM.
Swatter, I'd have voted down the transportation package too if I lived inside the district.
I recall a study that compared Wallingford with the Crossroads area of Bellevue. Same land area, same overall population, same commercial concentration (roughly for all of these). Vastly different road patterns.
Wallingford had more streets, which meant more choices to get around by car, on foot, bicycles, etc. Crossroads had a couple of arterials, (at least 156th has been expanded at least twice), with more congestion and limited choices that made getting around on foot or by bike, let alone by car, tough.
Arguably more "transportation" choices in Wallingford are better than fewer choices. Seems like that's the problem with our region too.
We generally know where development is happening and will happen. GMA said we were to get "concurrancy" of infrastructure to serve development.
Did that happen? Generally no.
That's not a failure of the rule, but a failure to implement the rule.
I'd pay for the couple of big ticket items that need to be replaced. I'd pay to see that they are built with some space for growth.
I'd pay for the thousand of little fixes we all know about that would make real improvements fast in what we have now.
Then I'd stop, and let market forces react shaped by what exists. That's what's happening now in Seattle, Bellevue and other centers.
There is no doubt that traffic could be immensely improved if several minimal-cost projects were done. This would include traffic light management, intersection redesign, and reworking many freeway interchanges. The biggest gain will be made by eliminating collector/distributor lanes.
I90 to SB I405 is a great example. Remove the collector distributor lanes and the backup will lessen. Merge people one direction at a time.
NB I405 to SR167 is another example. The entire exchange needs to be redone, but in the mean time give NB Rainier Ave its own exit after the SB 167 exit. That will lessen the backup to at least mimic the slightly better SB I405 to 167. Then, remove the collector distributor on the 167 side and the problem is mostly solved.
In the arterial world, use more roundabouts.
Yes. Let's redo the 167/i405 interchange again. I think I've seen that rebuilt three times since I started driving. Each time it's built, it's worse than when they started. WA DOT does not know how to make traffic flow - even if the legislature were to give them them money to do it.
And another point from 4 above. My uneducated opinion is that we should barely care what asphalt costs. We should be using concrete for roads, not asphalt. I understand it lasts way longer and so is cheaper in the long term. (Of course, that means a less effective jobs program for the union members that build the roads...)
37. Glad you pointed out that it was your 'uneducated opinion' because the facts don't support you.
There are many class designs of asphalt and not only do you get 'more bang for your buck' with asphalt, but you also get a smoother ride. Concrete for roads is a thing of the past; and union implications are present in both.
-Let's pave the planet!-
I often laugh when I hear we need smaller student teacher ratios. Once teachers had 40 students and it might have been too much, but is 20 enough? How about when a teacher, wanting more money, asks for an assistant (non certified) and raises the student ratio back to 40? Is that a reason to call for smaller class sizes?
Or what about the school that lowers the number to 18? That school must physically enlarge (usually they hype the need for a new school) and they then need to hire more teachers and more administrators, and on and on.......
After 15 years of harping,WSDOT has decided to remake the 405 167 interchange.
The traffic will be split up to exits at Benson HWY,East valley,and 167.
That will enable East hill traffic to take 515 to east hill,Valley traffic will take east valley,By pass traffic will take 167.
This should have been done already but they just had to capitalize on some gridlocke to get their lexus lanes first.
All over the original corridors are performing to slowly and lack capacity.
I think WSDOT is getting the hang of the idea of getting more local traffic off the interstates and onto the original corridors where they belong.
40. Any SP contributors out there? I miss my red meat buffet today. How about Connelly's asking for Mickey D to retire?