Wednesday, March 4, 2009


I have a feeling this post could turn into a rant.  And a long one.  Bear with me...

We all hate traffic.  There's no argument there.  But what I really hate is how some folks handle bad traffic.  Luckily, I'm not in one of the major metropolitan areas that it takes people hours to get into work (or home) due to traffic.  I'm in a smaller metro area that has it's own traffic headaches.  We are surrounded by water, so we deal with tunnels, bridge-tunnel combos, and draw bridges.  We have 6 tunnels that go under water, and we have 11 draw bridges (that I can remember).  There may be some that I've forgotten.  The draw bridges create traffic in their own right, by stopping traffic to allow boats to pass.  Stopping traffic is never a good thing, as it just allows traffic to back up.  Traffic at the tunnels are an issue, because people insist on SLOWING.DOWN.TO.A.CRAWL. at the mouth of the tunnel.  When really, it's just the same road, just enclosed.  

Granted, the tunnels don't have shoulder lanes, or emergency exits (could you imagine an emergency exit underwater???).  So when there is an incident in a tunnel, it creates havoc by stopping all traffic that enters, so the incident can be cleared out.  Be it an accident or a breakdown, the procedure is the same.  Stop traffic from entering, send in tow or emergency vehicles, wait for vehicle extraction, clean debris (from accidents) then re-open traffic.  Sometimes these can be relatively quick, 5 minutes or less.  With accidents, it's not usually so quick.  All but one of the tunnels in the area are separated so there are different 2 lane tubes for each direction.  So normally, only one direction is affected by said incident.  One tunnel, however, is only 2 lanes, one in each direction.  When this tunnel has an incident, it has to shut down in both directions.

At most of these tunnels or bridges, multiple lanes merge down into less lanes.  For example:  at the "Midtown Tunnel", there are two lanes west bound from one major road that merge into one, as well as three lanes from another road that merge into one onto an onramp, that feeds into the original single lane merge.  Basically 5 lanes that all merge into one.  Confused yet?  Yeah, thought so.

Now throw in that traffic patterns change over the years, so that even locals don't always know which way we are supposed to go, or send us to a part of town we don't drive in that often, and it's easy to end up in the wrong lane.  Add in that we are a military area, and most people aren't from around here originally, so no one knows where they are supposed to be, or how to get there, and again, there is chaos.  And this is on a good day.

Now throw in snow (and ice), something we don't get that much of.  Now you have thousands of people who aren't used to driving in it, out driving.  And you also have the ones who have 4 wheel drive, and think they are invincible.  Combine them all, and as you can imagine, the roads are littered with accidents.  All tunnels and bridges are at a crawl.  And everyone is still in a hurry to get where they want to be.

But here is what pisses me off.  It's all the people that think they are more important than you, or that it's more important that they get where they are going.  You  know the ones.  The guy that drives in the wrong lane, and cuts over illegally at the last minute to get to the front of the back up.  Or the one that makes a turn from a through lane, because he didn't want to wait in the turn lane.  Or the few that go through a green light even though they can't get all the way through so they block the intersection.  So when your light turns green, you can't go because THEY.ARE.IN.YOUR.WAY.   Or the worst ones (in my opinion) the ones that drive one the shoulder lanes to get ahead of the traffic.  Not only does it really suck for those of that have legally sat there, and inched along, it's dangerous.  

Case in point:  a few weeks ago, one of the tunnels was blocked.  Traffic was really backed up.  A state trooper on a motorcycle on the way to the incident in the tunnel was driving on the shoulder to get there.  A student late for class decided she would drive on the shoulder to get to her exit, and she collided the trooper on the motorcycle.  The trooper was thrown from her bike, the bike landed on her.  The emergency responders couldn't get to her, because people were on the shoulder.  See where I'm going here?  Luckily, two men jumped out of their cars, pulled the bike off of the trooper, and help finally managed to get through.  This trooper is a friend of mine, and she is still recovering from injuries and will be out of work for still some time to come.   But all because someone thought they they were more important than following the rules.

Is there a point to all this?  Not really.  It's really just a rant about our local traffic situation.  Transportation issues are always on the agenda in the political circuits, and nothing gets done.  All talk, talk talk...

Now excuse me while I go sit in tunnel traffic to get home.


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