Variable Lane Freeways

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by Rapmastac1, Aug 8, 2009.

  1. Rapmastac1 macrumors 65816

    Rapmastac1

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    #1
    I was thinking about this the other day and did a Google search on it. France is trying out a technology that is similar to what I'm thinking of. But they did this a long time ago, and from what see, they have abandoned the use of the technology.

    Variable Lane Freeways is a method in which you have a normal 4 Lane freeway (4 lanes in each direction, although it can be as low as 2 lanes in each direction). You have 4 lanes going in each direction and then you have a center lane (emergency lane). The barrier between the lanes is adjustable. Where I live, Salt Lake City is the center of attention for most people. When people go to work, the freeway is clogged up southbound towards SLC and at night is clogged in the northbound direction.

    In the morning, southbound will have up to 6 lanes which helps speed the process of getting there. When you have more people traveling on the inside lanes and less on the outside lanes, getting onto the freeway is easier (which is where the weakness is, causing traffic slowdowns). And then at night, the barrier will be moved to the opposite side giving the northbound direction 6 lanes. This is great for countering bad traffic caused by rush hour, construction.

    Using this concept along with variable speed limits I'm pretty sure most traffic congesting problems will be solved without having to have 8 lane freeways in each direction. The cost to implement this system in the long run will be about the same as building up to 8 lanes, except without using up more land (which isn't always available).

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #2
    There may not be any giant machines imported from Cybertron to move the barriers, but I'm pretty sure this method, conceptually (albeit with less sophistication), is employed in the US already... I'm struggling with where the specific examples I've seen are, though, so someone may have to help out. I think this is done in the LA area, for one.

    Wherever it is that I'm thinking of, the way it's done is that there are a few central express lanes with signage for drivers driving in both directions, but the local/express switch ramps are only open to traffic going in one direction, depending on the time of day (i.e. into the city in the morning and out of the city in the evening).

    I'm not sure how to Google for it, or I'd provide more specifics, but I'm sure I've seen this in at least one place in the US....

    Now, the political answer... (and yes, I'm moving this to the PRSI, hope that's okay)... Reducing traffic congestion reduces emissions and wasted fuel, but it also encourages more commuter traffic, no? Does France (which already has done more generally to enable alternatives to driving to work) have evidence that this is not a fundamentally ill advised sort of idea, along the lines of "find more, use less?"
     
  3. Greedo Guest

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    Jul 26, 2009
    #3
    they have this on Rte 93 north going into boston already. works fine in my experience.
     
  4. LumbermanSVO macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Seattle has some reversible lanes but they are poorly implemented and IMO don't help as much as they could.
     
  5. brax.j macrumors regular

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    Palo Alto, CA
    #5
    Seattle has system like this but it is more efficient than the Salt Lake City form. It as two lanes that go through the entire city with minimal exits and entrances so in the morning the lanes are open to people going southbound and in the afternoon they are open to people going northbound. They are very efficient because only people that are going all the way through the city can use the lanes and allows them to move faster and not get clogged by people exiting and entering the freeway.
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    Maybe it is Seattle I'm thinking of (it isn't Boston -- I've never driven in Boston)... I haven't been to Seattle in a while, so it's quite possible.... So they don't help much, eh?

    Salt Lake City has in-city / metro trains, right? Does it have a commuter rail? Seems like a commuter rail or one of those trolley-bus / whatever systems that work sort of intermediately between a train and a bus is a much better solution than allowing for an increased density of individual traffic....
     
  7. brax.j macrumors regular

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    #7
    They could be better but I disagree they could help more. They are there to help people going through the entire city not people that are getting off in the city.
     
  8. LethalWolfe macrumors G3

    LethalWolfe

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    #8
    There is at least on section of road near down town Indianapolis that is like that. There's no physical barrier to move just overhead lane makers w/either a red X or a green arrow.


    Lethal
     
  9. Demosthenes X macrumors 68000

    Demosthenes X

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    #9
    Vancouver has variable highways in some places - mostly around the tunnels and bridges, for obvious reasons. It seems to work well (I don't often drive in Vancouver), and certainly helps. But Vancouver still has congestion.

    Still, it's a great idea and perfectly logical, so more highway systems should implement it, imo.
     
  10. yg17 macrumors G5

    yg17

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    #10
    St. Louis has a reversible lane on a short stretch of I-70 going through the city. I've used it once, but I'm hardly ever on that part of I-70....and I don't think it does a thing to reduce traffic. The eastern end of the lane ends just before you really get into the heart of downtown and the western end doesn't even get you into the suburbs where a majority of the commuters are going to and from.
     
  11. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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  12. fireshot91 macrumors 601

    fireshot91

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    #12
    Yupp. In VA it's called the HOV- High Occupancy Vehicle.

    In the middle of the two sides, there's one road- The HOV part. During rush hour, only bikes, and 3ormore people cars can go on it, so it reduces traffic.

    During morning time, it's going north, and after about noon, it goes south.
    On Saturdays, it's open to any cars, and it depends on which way it's going.
     
  13. NT1440 macrumors G4

    NT1440

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    #13
    Odd thing was the lane in the center was ALWAYS empty for the 4 days I was in VA.
     
  14. Signal-11 macrumors 65816

    Signal-11

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    #14
    Yeah, this is done for HOV lanes in several US metro areas. In the older east coast cities, there are also reversible city traffic lanes, though I've seen them taken down in heavy pedestrian areas.

    I've had it explained to me by traffic engineers why reversible lanes aren't all that cost effective once you start considering cost over time. This is actually a very complicated subject and there's a reason that traffic engineers are guys with civ E degrees with PE licenses.
     
  15. MTI macrumors 65816

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    #15
    Honolulu, site of worst commute route in the nation (yes, an island beat you), uses a "Zipper Lane" in the mornings for vehicles with three or more riders. It is opened in the early morning and put back against the median a few hours later.

    [​IMG]
     
  16. xUKHCx Administrator emeritus

    xUKHCx

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    #16
    There are a few of these around the UK, one going into Birmingham from the M6. It uses overhad gantries with signage to show the allowed lanes.

    There was also a pilot for allowing the use of the hardshoulder as an extra lane during heavy traffic periods (carefully monitored for breakdowns etc)
     
  17. KingYaba macrumors 68040

    KingYaba

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  18. Counterfit macrumors G3

    Counterfit

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    #18
    You don't know what you're missing. :D Try it during October, with a Playoff game at Fenway and either the Celtics or Bruins at the "Garden"*.





    *: There was, and will only ever be, one Gahden. What's there now will forever be the Fleet Center to me.
     
  19. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #19
    I understand completely, as all the Chicago demis know I still go to Marshall Fields (but only for the one on State St in Chicago... otherwise I'm fine with calling it Macy's... but their other stores are deplorable...and this is a major tangent). ;)

    No thanks for driving in Boston. I barely care for driving in the Chi. I love my feet and public transportation, although the latter is fairly useless in Grand Rapids. :rolleyes: (Who is the genius who decides that the airport bus line only runs on weekdays? I mean, WTF?)
     
  20. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #20
    Chicago has Express lanes that are reversible and go east into the city in the morning rush and west out of the city in the afternoon rush. they're in the center lanes and run alongside the EL for part of the way too. they're fairly good at helping ease the congestion, but certainly doesn't work wonders because there is just that much traffic.
     
  21. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #21
    This shows how much I drive in Chicago. :D Which interstate? I don't think the Dan Ryan ones reverse, do they? Are you talking about where the blue line runs near the E/W interstates?
     
  22. PlaceofDis macrumors Core

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    #22
    its the "Kennedy" or 90/94 from the Edens Junction to Ohio Street running northwest from the city. i doubt you've been on it very much. ;)
     
  23. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #23
    Hehe, no, I think Western is as far as I go that way. :D
     
  24. sammich macrumors 601

    sammich

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    #24
    There's a small section just north of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. There's a long strip 'creeper' that moves after the morning peak to allow more traffic to head north (morning peak heads south to the city).

    Just stick these (-33.845036,151.211823) coords into maps.google.com, and streetview it.
     
  25. aethelbert macrumors 601

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    Chicago, IL, USA
    #25
    Seriously? Where is this? I've been around Indianapolis for many, many years and have never seen that. It's certainly not on the interstate and most streets downtown are one way, no? Care to enlighten me for curiosity's sake?

    As for the actual topic, I have seen similar methods used during construction on a bridge in Peoria (US 150), but it created many traffic problems and backups when it was time to move the lane divider. It served the purpose well, as without it there would have only been eastbound traffic, but the backups that it caused when moving were incredible as it took forever. As there is no other way across the river for many miles, it hurt the area pretty hard during select parts of the day.
     

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