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MJLO

The Valley traffic thread

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So I live in Mesa right? Well every flippin day I have to take US-60 to work. What is the deal? They just build the damn road like ten years ago and they have it all tore up. It takes me an hour in the morning to go the 18 miles to the Airport. Thats another annoying story. But today I thought I would be smart and go in at 1pm and not catch any traffic problems. Well while the road didn't back up. Every single lane was being used by someone driving about 50mph. What is the deal!!!!! I'd rather be stuck in a bumper to bumper parking lot, than be stuck behind a whole bunch of people all traveling the same speed showing no road etiquette at all. Are all AZ drivers like that? Thus has been my experience. That people just pick a lane and go as slow as they feel. Don't they know that the left lanes should be used for people who are traveling faster than they are. I don't know why, but it makes me more road ragey, than when someone cuts me off. The most polite drivers i've dealt with are in IL, they know how to use lanes. But here it's insane! Accidents friggen everywhere, bad ones too. Just seems to be a dangerous place for freeways, is that the reason my insurance went up so much for moving to AZ?

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So I live in Mesa right? Well every flippin day I have to take US-60 to work. What is the deal? They just build the damn road like ten years ago and they have it all tore up. It takes me an hour in the morning to go the 18 miles to the Airport. Thats another annoying story. But today I thought I would be smart and go in at 1pm and not catch any traffic problems. Well while the road didn't back up. Every single lane was being used by someone driving about 50mph. What is the deal!!!!! I'd rather be stuck in a bumper to bumper parking lot, than be stuck behind a whole bunch of people all traveling the same speed showing no road etiquette at all. Are all AZ drivers like that? Thus has been my experience. That people just pick a lane and go as slow as they feel. Don't they know that the left lanes should be used for people who are traveling faster than they are. I don't know why, but it makes me more road ragey, than when someone cuts me off. The most polite drivers i've dealt with are in IL, they know how to use lanes. But here it's insane! Accidents friggen everywhere, bad ones too. Just seems to be a dangerous place for freeways, is that the reason my insurance went up so much for moving to AZ?

now you're getting into some of the reasons i don't like phoenix.

people drive like dicks in phoenix. not a blanket statement; there are good drivers everywhere, and i know about the safe driver studies and all that, but my experience is what i've got to go on, and it is bad, regardless of the hour. i have Never been on the freeway in phoenix without at least one near-miss. the loop, 60, I-17, I-10...doesn't matter, the driving environment is awful. 60 gets bad just west of apache junction and doesn't let up. i am utterly paranoid of traffic camera enforcement in the various suburban towns, so i drive a little under the speed limit by default until i am well out of the area. i'm probably that guy you've passed going 60 in the 65 zone. it reminds me a little of atlanta, where the freeway lanes somehow seem narrower in the urban areas and then widen comfortably once you're out of town (in phoenix, this applies more to the interstates than to 60, though). have you driven 60 east of mesa and into globe? a beautiful drive, but daunting for the fast local traffic and nutzo rock overhangs, at least until you get used to it. kinda like 89 through oak creek canyon south of flagstaff, where everything is gorgeous and everybody seems to be in a hurry to ignore it and ride your ass instead, until they can pass you around a curve, RV in tow.

the driving always feels aggressive in phoenix, but in tucson it's bad in a different way (at least for me). there are the random aggressive f-dogs in tucson, gunning through intersections, etc., but the real problem is total absent-mindedness and lack of road knowledge. i feel like i'm much more likely to have a wreck because someone was not paying attention in tucson traffic; whereas in phoenix i think the cause would be speed, aggression, etc.

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Well I've definately been in Much worse traffic congestion than metro Phoenix. (Chicago is the worst, then Altanta and Detroit are pretty bad too). But In Detroit people will drive 90 on the freeways, probabally the fastest drivers in the country. You still don't see a third of the accidents that I see around here.

Here's a question for you. How many freeways can the build for one metropolitan area, before the freeways are effectively "built out"? There solution to growth and congestions around Phoenix is "add more lanes". If i'm still here when they open light rail, Im buying a house near the line, or maybe on mainstreet in Mesa and i'm taking the train to the airport. I'll stay away from the unavoidable freeway system. Do you think anyone else will?

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i've been in worse traffic than in phoenix, too. it's not the congestion that bothers me (but who likes that anyway?); it's the vibe of the other drivers. atlanta is the worst traffic i've been in, too (which is strange, since atlanta is both a terrible suburban sprawl traffic type place, and a nice, never-have-to-drive, urban core type place as well.) never been to chicago. manhattan is another world - no one has any business driving in manhattan unless the are working for someone (ups, taxi, etc.) have you driven in the LA / san diego area? the traffic is like what you describe in detroit - extremely high speeds and major congestion, but - it somehow works. everything moves, and the traffic isn't filled with jerks and idiots. it's like everyone knows they're in the same boat, and they make the best of it by hauling ass and paying attention to what's going on around them. wish i could say the same for here.

i don't think that cities with open land around them (like the ones in AZ) can really be built out in terms of freeway construction - if you build it, they will come. it would be a different story in a place like boston, where there's density and no room to grow out. here, it's a matter of discretion - which planners have exercised very little of. hence the problem. if those loops and freeways hadn't been built in phoenix, it would have grown in a different pattern - probably more dense, with emphasis on other ways of getting around. just like water and sewage...if a government doesn't trip over itself trying to extend water & sewage to that new freeway exit or that newly incorporated small town out on the edge of the city, the buisinesses and residents simply won't move there - they won't be able to. they'll move where the services are, even if it means that's inside a populated area. people always complain about how bad the traffic is getting on the freeways in their suburban areas, and the solution is usually to add more lanes; do a spur; build a flyover, etc. all that does is provide the opportunity for the same problem to spread to more areas outside the central city. a band-aid, not a fix. that drives me crazy about ALDOT in alabama. that's the way you address citizens' traffic concerns, and most people think it's great - never realizing what things are gonna be like a few years down the road. that's why i'm glad tucson is trying to hang with limited major frreeway service. bad as growth is here, it could be much worse.

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Well one thing I can say is that Altanta does have bad congestion, but it's not worse than any of the major cities Chicago Det ect.... Alot of people from Atlanta, for some reason think it's the worst in the world though.

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I love the 60 through the Superstitions, but, yeah, for some reason people want to blow through it as fast as possible. I don't really get it.

I think LA is the worst freeway traffic I've ever seen, maybe second worst for side-streets behind San Francisco or Manhatten.

Phoenix traffic is definitely not as bad as Atlanta, nor Houston or Dallas. Seattle is much worse also.

As far as freeway build-out goes, I think that Phoenix is definitely close to what it can do, except for widening the roads. If you look at the plan, the only thing left is the southern leg of the 202, I think it's called the South Mountain Freeway. I don't know why that wasn't top priority, as it would provide a great bypass for I-10 around Downtown.

I-10 from the 202 all the way to Tucson is already slated to be eventually widened to six lanes, but not for a while. I can see other roads like the 60, the 101 in Scottsdale, and definitely the 51 all being widened in the next 15 years. But, I also think Phoenix's growth will cool down significantly by that point, and there won't necessarily be the need for more freeways.

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that's an interesting thought, they are already widening 60 from Val Vista out to the Pinal County line. From Val Vista to the 10 60 is six lanes each way.

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four!!!!!! accidents on the 60 while on my way to flight today, almost missed it. I'm glad I have employee clearance otherwise I would have.

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ok freeway story,

They are choosing between two plans for the South Mountain Freeway, which would connect the east and west valleys at the San Tan. Does anyone have any further details on this? The original plan was for the freeway to start at 55th ave, at the 10 and snake down to the 202. Another plan was created, one that I like, for it to start at where the 101 meets the ten making a giant loop. Thoughts anyone?

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Am I the only one, or do this seem like the most necessary freeway in the Phoenix area?

I mean, it bypasses Downtown Phoenix so traffic continuing west on I-10 (which most thru traffic does) don't have to go through town. LOVELY! I don't know why they didn't build this earlier, especially since there's now all that development in Ahwatukee along Pecos that they have to bulldoze for the ROW.

Meeting up with the 101 is just a little more logical, and it gives freeway service to a few more areas by heading further west all the way to the 99th area. Also, I would think that a lot of traffic would want to continue onto the 202 or from the 202 to the 101 north, and this would keep them off of I-10, which is always a good thing.

The only downside I see is the numbers changing. Going straight but having the highway change numbers always throws people off, and you get into these multiples and people get especially confused (where's the 404, anyway?).

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Colin, do you think that AZ will sustain the kind of growth numbers it has seen in the last 20 years? Or do you think that it will level off. I have a feeling that Maricopa county could see population levels swell to the area of 7mill if things keep going the way they are. At that point traffic would be INSANE! As it stands I think Maricopa county will be in the 4mill range by 2010. So I agree I do think this is neccessary. But I wonder if it'll aleviate traffic in other parts.

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Growth is going to level off. Only so many people can take living out here.

Most are saying that the economy will slow down very soon, and that's definitely going to happen. Once that happens, I think that AZ will continue to grow, but definitely not the exponential rate that it's growing at now. Maybe a level more typical of the sun belt.

I don't know that Maricopa County will ever lose population again, though, unless they completely run out of water.

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During my adventure to and from the fireworks tonight, we counted, NINE, accidents on the freeways. Two of them were bad. I never stop being amazed at the lack of care people have on the roads. We witnessed one, but that was while it was raining. They weren't kidding that people around here forget to slow down, when it rains. Never have I seen such careless and fast drivers as I have in the Metropolitan Phoenix area.

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Never have I seen such careless and fast drivers as I have in the Metropolitan Phoenix area.

Atlanta is still #1 for that for me. 80-90 regardless of conditions.

However, Arizonans really don't know how to drive in the rain. You can tell especially when you hear people unintentionally peeling out at traffic lights when the road is wet, which seems to happen a lot. LA is supposedly the same, although I don't think I've ever driven in the rain in LA.

On that note, on my recent trip, I hit rain on I-25 just outside of Santa Fe. When I turned on my wipers, I noticed that the rubber had separated from the metal on one of them, and they were more or less ineffective. I hadn't used them in so long that I just hadn't noticed up to that point.

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I think they should compare metro to metro. Because those stats don't compare drivers outside the limits of Phoenix proper. I truly believe that if you averaged it out with all of the drivers in the Valley, Phoenix would be much much worse. It makes me wonder though, about the safe driving habits of the cities where I come from back east.

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I HATE Random weekend closures!. I was on the 202 Red mountain, on my way home from work today. Yesterday, it was open clear. Today they had the right three lanes closed from Sky Harbor Blvd, to Country Club. I sat in a parking lot for an hour. I really regret getting a stick shift every time there's a traffic jam, my ankle is sore for a week. Stupid clutch! In Michigan, when they have lane closures or exit closures, they warn you weeks in advance! Not the day of. I'm annoyed.

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Yeah, and the worst part is that when try to get off the freeway to get around, everyone else has the same idea and so you're in a worse traffic jam than before.

Just read the newspaper every weekend, or look on the ADOT site.

I know what you mean with the clutch. I've always had a stick, and a couple of times in Houston I almost had to pull off the road because my foot so got tired in the 5-10mph, 10-mile-long traffic jams. I ended taking this crazy back way toward the end of that year because I hated the freeway so much. Certainly not something I miss. When I drive now, my commute's 3-4 minutes. One of the advantages of the smaller cities.

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Amen to that, the traffic in GR was so much easier than driving in Detroit. Aside from a few poorly planned hot spots. But don't tell that to the locals.

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lol - how could i forget about houston! never would i have thought a guy from houston would say the traffic is worse in atlanta. houston is hands down the worst of my driving experiences. worst worst worst. the 610 loop is just as bad as plowing through on 10. and construction! it's everywhere and eternal. so much for digressing....

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Really? Worse than LA?

I learned how to drive there, so maybe I just got used to it. People in Atlanta didn't seem as aggressive as Houstonian drivers, but they were going as fast as possible, which to me seemed so much more dangerous.

Yes, 610 was certainly bad, but couldn't hold a candle to the way Katy Freeway used to be. The West Loop was widened a few years ago, but I think the Katy Freeway is still under construction to make it that pseudo-super highway.

I had all kinds of crazy back ways on surface streets that I took. The wildest was when I worked at HP near Tomball and lived Downtown, until I got an EZ-Tag, started taking the toll road and leaving at the butt crack of the morning.

I would actually sometimes spend more time meandering through town than I would have spent in traffic on the freeway, but at least I was moving.

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I would actually sometimes spend more time meandering through town than I would have spent in traffic on the freeway, but at least I was moving.

Colin that's actually how I feel about my ride to work around here.

Does Tucson have any kind of congestion during peak periods?

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Does Tucson have any kind of congestion during peak periods?

tusconans would say hell yes, but by phoenix's standards, god no. my 7-mile trip on sunrise / campbell every day takes about 15 minutes at most. that's at peak times. the grant / tanque verde intersection is hellish, and the freeways get somewhat congested, but i haven't seen anything in tucson that approaches the congestion of other cities that rely on freeways to get people to and from work. it's a relief to drive in tucson, compared to birmingham. i just wish tucson were dense enough to make driving an option (and not a must) for a larger number of people. that gets back to the whole downtown development thing....

houston may be fine - my experience is limited to interstate travel only, colin. i'd definitely want a knowledgeable guide to give me some street-level routes to travel, if i were going to spend any time there driving around town. i may have always hit houston at bad times...

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No matter where you are, people seem to complain about how bad the traffic is there, and it's usually not really as bad as it seems. Tucsonans beotch and moan about how we need eight-lane roads and freeways down the washes, but traffic is just nothing compared to larger, even some comparably-sized cities. TDOT does an excellent job, not only with some very well-maintained streets, but also with cameras to monitor traffic flow, live adjustments in signal timings, and I personally think that the lagging left turn signal here has a lot to do with it.

Grant/Tanque Verde is one of the worst. There are several other intersections in town that will take you a little while to get through, but nothing like what you see in larger cities, and you can almost always bypass them.

The freeway isn't really that bad, it's mainly people exiting that causes problems. At Cortaro and Ina, there's an at-grade railroad crossing that backs up traffic, and Orange Grove has a major intersection immediately after the ramp, all of which accumulates the cars. But that's the price you pay for living in the suburbs.

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