Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Where It's Even Worse

You can see these images much better if you click on them to enlarge.

We have bad traffic in Austin, thanks to people who don't want to pay taxes and (simultaneously) vehemently object to toll roads.

Austin is at least a decade behind in terms of building roads, and what are they doing now? Building a single toll lane onto the primary commuting highway in the city.

What's happening with that toll lane, though, is disaster.

The project was supposed to be completed last September. The toll lane runs north/south for about eleven miles.

I'm stuck in traffic so often and for so long that I've started counting the active workmen on the toll project on any given day. "Active" includes anyone, even if they're not working at the time.

A few weeks ago, I counted 41 people.

Today, for the first time, I counted 92, which is the first time I've been above 80.

92 workmen in 11 miles.

What's happening here is that the contractor submitted a ridiculous, artificially low bid--and won. Now the company isn't even bidding on additional road contracts because this one has been a disaster, and with no ongoing business in road construction, doesn't care what kind of shitty job they do on this one.

I think they've concluded that they'll lose less money by defaulting and paying whatever fine they have to instead of actually carrying the project on to completion.

Even when this toll lane opens, it's not going to help much. At peak times, the highway in question must be 40% over capacity, at least. Even if 10% of commuters use that toll lane (which seems highly unlikely, since it's variable pricing and will be relatively expensive during rush our), it's not going to do much of anything.

Today, out of curiosity, I looked at a few other traffic maps for huge cities. Mexico City, for one:

If you've never looked at Google Maps, red/black is a standstill, red is a near-standstill, orange is 20-30 MPH (roughly), and yellow is above 30 but below regular speeds (again, roughly). That was just the middle of the day in Mexico City.

Here's 7 p.m. in the London area:

Seriously, London, what the hell? It looks like every city within fifty miles of London is basically locked up.

The gold standard for traffic hell in the U.S. is certainly Los Angeles. New York has horrible traffic, but they have excellent mass transit and just don't care. Los Angeles, though, has an incredible number of roads, and they're all a disaster. Have a look:

I'm not sure how anyone can stand to commute, except that many people must go in off hours. Rush hour looks like a nervous breakdown.

Site Meter