The Solution to San Diego Traffic
Monday, January 29, 2007, 10:06 PM - Public Policy
Posted by Administrator
The San Diego traffic
situation, while not as critical as Los Angeles, is continuing to grow. This is largely because of people commuting to and from work. The problem is that the National Highway System
was not designed for short commutes. It was designed for long haul transportation, traveling large distances at a time. Bigger freeways aren't the answer, the solution is in getting people to use existing streets more.
Currently the plans to expand the freeway system include adding more lanes. This will not be sufficient. Adding more lanes will only add to congestion because there will be more lane changes when entering and exiting the freeway. And those making short trips will continue to remain the right lanes, acting as obstacles slowing down all those trying to change lanes and adding to the problem.
Car pool lanes and flow control traffic lights have potential to help, but they can't reduce the demand for freeway usage. This assumes that more people will actually carpool, which is unlikely when traffic is the worst, during the rush hour commute. Flow control has been shown to help, but as traffic continues to increase these will only be helpful if they have longer red cycles to keep too many cars from actually entering the freeway.People are still willing to get caught up in traffic on the freeway rather than use the streets. We have to ask, why?
The answer is that in their current state, the streets in San Diego don't make it easy to get around.
Nearly every intersection in San Diego has left turn lanes with protected arrows. This means that there is a traffic light dedicated to left turns, with a left turn arrow for the green light. These are largely unnecessary in many locations, near housing subdivisions or apartment complexes. To start, this is problematic because these slow down the traffic light cycles. Where medians are present, backed up left turn lanes can even block or congest traffic that is going straight through the intersection.
In addition, nearly all lights are sensor based. A particular direction will only turn green if a car is present. However, when cycles are so long, there is almost always at least one car present, except for at night. In rare cases the lights are synchronized. This needs to be done. On the major streets, the lights can be timed such that someone traveling at the speed limit will get green lights the entire way.By removing left turn lights and synchronizing traffic lights, the flow of traffic through the city can be greatly improved, alleviating some of the demand on our freeways.