monsoon

Traffic Congestion and Highway Construction

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To me, it DOES show a priority, put more on asphalt and less on steel sign posts. 485 and new urban loop freeways across the state are littered with these ultra expensive bridges just to hold a sign with 3 words. Since when is telling people their exit is in 2 miles worth 25-75k?

My point is not to take away from your argument about the state wasting money, but more to address the equality issue. It seems that Charlotte and (other areas too) that have extreme congestion, and issues with their roads, get little funding. It is that little sign post that just brings this point home. I could really care less about the little post, since I know where the exit is. However, given that the exit is one of importance and one that is confusing as hell to an outsider you would think the state would spring for something a little more noticelable. I agree with your arguments though D, the steel bridges are a TOTAL waste of money.

A2

Edited by A2

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there is a literal purpose to having a 'skybridge' rather than a sign on the side of the road. It would make sense if it dealt with the number of large trucks on the road that would block side-of-the-road signs from people in the left lanes. Also, it should deal with the number of lanes, if you are in the far left lane in traffic, and you aren't from this area, the chances you will see signs indicating it's almost time to get off are pretty bleak. Sure, you shouldn't be in that lane if you aren't sure when to get off, but that's beside the point.

I know it seems trivial, but I feel more informed by the skybridge signs than roadside signs because they usually display information about the next two or three interchanges, rather than just the next. The next time I have my camera on N-85, I'll take a pic of the signage letting people know about the Mallard Creek exits and 485. It isn't a skybridge, but rather a large median sign on the Harris Blvd bridge stating mileage to each exit. Bridge signs seem to be more cost effective than skybridge signage.

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To me, it DOES show a priority, put more on asphalt and less on steel sign posts. 485 and new urban loop freeways across the state are littered with these ultra expensive bridges just to hold a sign with 3 words. Since when is telling people their exit is in 2 miles worth 25-75k?

Like you I suspect this is probably due to over engineering by NCDOT engineers having wet dreams over all the steel they get to throw up. However a lot of 485 is being paid for by federal funds an there may be requirements from the Feds to do silly stuff like this.

BTW, I've noticed why the lights on I-77 through the city are off at night, they are all lit up during the middle of the day. I kid you not. Drive through there an you will be surprised by the number of lights that are buring during the daytime. Maybe they have them hooked up wrong.

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Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe there is a literal purpose to having a 'skybridge' rather than a sign on the side of the road. It would make sense if it dealt with the number of large trucks on the road that would block side-of-the-road signs from people in the left lanes. Also, it should deal with the number of lanes, if you are in the far left lane in traffic, and you aren't from this area, the chances you will see signs indicating it's almost time to get off are pretty bleak. Sure, you shouldn't be in that lane if you aren't sure when to get off, but that's beside the point.

I know it seems trivial, but I feel more informed by the skybridge signs than roadside signs because they usually display information about the next two or three interchanges, rather than just the next. The next time I have my camera on N-85, I'll take a pic of the signage letting people know about the Mallard Creek exits and 485. It isn't a skybridge, but rather a large median sign on the Harris Blvd bridge stating mileage to each exit. Bridge signs seem to be more cost effective than skybridge signage.

This is a photo I took on I-85 southbound and I believe it has the sinage thing in the median that you were talking about.

IMG_0239-3.jpg

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BTW, I've noticed why the lights on I-77 through the city are off at night, they are all lit up during the middle of the day. I kid you not. Drive through there an you will be surprised by the number of lights that are buring during the daytime. Maybe they have them hooked up wrong.

I suspect the software was built in Bangalore. So, they actually do light up at night --- in the Indian time zone. :)

And to DAAchiever, yes, I think those median signs are much less costly and equally effective (if not more effective) compared to the bridge signs.

I tried to look through the bid average spreadsheets on JoJo's link. I think the average cost for Engineering Wet Dreams is $38,000. It adds up quickly.

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Man, I posted earlier and I guess it got lost in cyberspace...

My earlier point was simply to state that while the state has transportation problems, they aren't because of the "high" gas tax. (no county rds like VA, 2nd largest state system, inflation eats up budgets quickly) Again, based on road dollars per system mile, NC is behind most other SE states. It's like taking a $50k salary and try to feed a growing family of 6, with 1 or 2 on the way... when the family was only 2 or 3, things were fine, but now, junior needs a new pair of shoes and there's no money to pay for it. Oh and it's the politicians that will have to come up with the tough answers (local tax? impact fees? tolls?)--not DOT.

On the signs... I don't know the answer, but there's probably some technical basis for placing the overhead signs where they are.

It is funny listening to the Monday morning quarterbacking though... :)

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^It's my guess the family you describe above who doesn't have enough money, would certainly figure out how to turn off their lights during the day. (RE NCDOT lighting burning during the day) Even the monday morning line backers know enough to do that.

The NCDOT could do a much better job with not wasting so much money.

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My earlier point was simply to state that while the state has transportation problems, they aren't because of the "high" gas tax. (no county rds like VA, 2nd largest state system, inflation eats up budgets quickly) Again, based on road dollars per system mile, NC is behind most other SE states. It's like taking a $50k salary and try to feed a growing family of 6, with 1 or 2 on the way... when the family was only 2 or 3, things were fine, but now, junior needs a new pair of shoes and there's no money to pay for it. Oh and it's the politicians that will have to come up with the tough answers (local tax? impact fees? tolls?)--not DOT.

Actually I think the only counties in VA that maintain their own roads are Arlington and Henrico. VDOT maintains the county roads as well as primary roads and Interstates. Cities maintain their own roads, like NC. VDOT is far from perfect, but their roads are a lot better and I think this comes down to priorities. Urban and primary roads in larger metropolitan areas are given more priority over little two-lane back roads, that's why there rural roads aren't as good as NC's, but their urban interstates are a lot better. I wish NCDOT and the state politicians would figure that out, lol. Plus VDOT is more advance in finding alternatives to help drivers like toll roads, HOV lanes (the reversible one's) w/ commuter lots, and now HOT lanes, which the NCDOT is just now figuring out. :rolleyes:

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You don't have to take my word that NC's roads are junk. The American Society of Civil Engineers just ranked NC's infrastructure. You can look here.

Look where our roads stand, and these are the professionals that would know.

ReportCard2006.jpg

The only bright spot the NCDOT has is in the passenger rail investments they have been making.

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VDOT is far from perfect, but their roads are a lot better and I think this comes down to priorities. Urban and primary roads in larger metropolitan areas are given more priority over little two-lane back roads, that's why there rural roads aren't as good as NC's, but their urban interstates are a lot better.

Oh really? Ever been on I-95 in NOVA? I was just there last night driving south on a SUNDAY evening and traffic was backed up for miles moving out of town. The HOV was of no use since it was just two of us and the lanes were directed north at that time. Traffic was horrible (worse than anything in NC) and they have the HOV 3+ lane AND a commuter rail line.

Oh, and then there's I-66 west towards Dulles. It's only 6 lanes for most of the stretch with the metro line running in the median for a few miles outside 495. That whole stretch was absolute crap too on a Saturday evening going into and out of town. They have to make traffic ride along the paved shoulders during rush hour just to even begin to deal with the traffic.

You need to rethink the above statement. NOVA is a 24 hour traffic nightmare.

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Oh really? Ever been on I-95 in NOVA? I was just there last night driving south on a SUNDAY evening and traffic was backed up for miles moving out of town. The HOV was of no use since it was just two of us and the lanes were directed north at that time. Traffic was horrible (worse than anything in NC) and they have the HOV 3+ lane AND a commuter rail line.

Oh, and then there's I-66 west towards Dulles. It's only 6 lanes for most of the stretch with the metro line running in the median for a few miles outside 495. That whole stretch was absolute crap too on a Saturday evening going into and out of town. They have to make traffic ride along the paved shoulders during rush hour just to even begin to deal with the traffic.

You need to rethink the above statement. NOVA is a 24 hour traffic nightmare.

Agreed, NOVA is a great example of how not to design roads. I-95 has the most poorly designed HOV lanes ever... all they do is cause massive traffic backups at the points where they merge back into the local lanes. They should've skipped the HOV lanes and used the wasted space to make the road 8 lanes in each direction.

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Oh really? Ever been on I-95 in NOVA? I was just there last night driving south on a SUNDAY evening and traffic was backed up for miles moving out of town. The HOV was of no use since it was just two of us and the lanes were directed north at that time. Traffic was horrible (worse than anything in NC) and they have the HOV 3+ lane AND a commuter rail line.

Oh, and then there's I-66 west towards Dulles. It's only 6 lanes for most of the stretch with the metro line running in the median for a few miles outside 495. That whole stretch was absolute crap too on a Saturday evening going into and out of town. They have to make traffic ride along the paved shoulders during rush hour just to even begin to deal with the traffic.

You need to rethink the above statement. NOVA is a 24 hour traffic nightmare.

Yes you're right, but i'm guesing backups were also due to the Springfield Interchange Project (I-95/I-395/I-495) and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.

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Yes you're right, but i'm guesing backups were also due to the Springfield Interchange Project (I-95/I-395/I-495) and the Woodrow Wilson Bridge Project.

No, a friend and I were driving south out of Arlington on 395 to 95 (didn't touch 495 at all). Cars started stacking up south of the 95/495/395 interchange. I remember driving thru there years ago before they even started the huge mixing bowl project and it was 10x worse... so they are making progress, but it's still a huge mess and throughout the whole 95 corridor towards Fredricksburg--I could see new construction of offices and condos, etc. God only knows how those people are going to get into the city. I might take the train next time...

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There are almost as many people in the DC metro as the entire state of NC. Road building there involves two states and the special district of DC which means the federal government, the huge city of Baltimore, and numerous other agencies. Plus they have a few excuses for the limitations of the roads there given the small area where all these people are concentrated.

On the other hand we have the monolithic NCDOT which is solely responsible for all of the non-city roads in this state. With just one agency in control of so much road mileage one would expect that we would see a logical well built road system that would serve the citizens of this state. As we all know, especially if one lives in one of the urban areas of this state, nothing even close to that is true. I went to Raleigh yesterday, and forgetting the poor peeps in Raleigh are suffereing just as bad as we are here in Charlotte from inadequate and inefficient roads, I-40 between Raleigh and Statesville is atrocious. It has been constantly worked on for the last 30 years that I have been driving that route and despite that, the road is of very poor quality even compared to those in NoVA. Maybe one day the NCDOT will figure out how to pour concrete so that it lays flat and find a source for asphalt that doesn't self destruct in less than 10 years. The only good thing about the quality of I-40 is that it is better than the quality of I-77 from Statesville to Charlotte which will swallow up your car if you make the mistake of driving into one of the craters in the right lane.

I do give the NCDOT high marks for its rest areas. They are clean and nicely manicured. Well... except for the fact they put their recycling bins in such hidden places that my guess is that most people put their bottles and cans in the regular trash. It would only take 1/2 a brain to realize that recycling is much more effective if it is made convenient. (I know, I am expecting too much)

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I took a look at the 2005 state map yesterday and I couldn't understand some of the routes and new construction of roads. The Triad looks like the metroplex in Texas with all of the interstates and highways. I-73/74 or whatever just doesn't make sense to my either. I know we have talked about this before but I still don't understand why it is being built. Charlotte has no direct 4 lane controlled access road to the east. I wish there was a highway going to Fayetteville or Wilmington. Then maybe I would have visited Charlotte a lot more than just three of four times a year. There are more bypasses and highways down east than I thought. I do defend the eastern part of the state but some of it is just overkill. Hwy. 264 and 64 is a good idea. However Hwy 74 east from Charlotte or a Raleigh to Charlotte highway should be more of a priority.

So after looking at the map I jumped on NCDOT website and read up on the states strategic corridors plan. My questions still weren't answered as far as trying to figure out a streamlined, consise and clear roadway plan. IMO it looks like the metro areas are only getting short term help. Also loops are not what is needed now. Why would G-boro and Winston have ther own loops. Why can't they share one. Does Wilson really need another bypass. The huge metropolis of Goldsboro anther 4 lane highway to the north I think. I dunno it just doesn't make sense to me anymore.......

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It is all about politics. The east has more political power, and thus, the formulas all favor the east.

In the olden days, when the political parties were controlled by bosses, rather than primaries and the Democratic party was the monopoly party, there used to be a gentlemen's agreement to alternate gubernatorial candidates from the east then the west. It successfully alternated, keeping the balance, every governor until Mr. Easley took over after Hunt. Both Hunt and Easley are from the east. So now, we have all that political power continuing for decades to focus on the east. Because they don't know Charlotte or care about Charlotte, the politics is bypassing us.

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Oh really? Ever been on I-95 in NOVA? I was just there last night driving south on a SUNDAY evening and traffic was backed up for miles moving out of town. The HOV was of no use since it was just two of us and the lanes were directed north at that time. Traffic was horrible (worse than anything in NC) and they have the HOV 3+ lane AND a commuter rail line.

Oh, and then there's I-66 west towards Dulles. It's only 6 lanes for most of the stretch with the metro line running in the median for a few miles outside 495. That whole stretch was absolute crap too on a Saturday evening going into and out of town. They have to make traffic ride along the paved shoulders during rush hour just to even begin to deal with the traffic.

You need to rethink the above statement. NOVA is a 24 hour traffic nightmare.

I also said that VDOT was far perfect, but keep in mind that we're talking about an area that's larger than any of NC's metro, plus you have a lot thru-traffic using I-95, that's why you see a lot of traffic delays during non-rush hour periods.

I'm very familar with the HOV merge that dumps the traffic in the left lane, which is a terrible design flaw, but I think it was only meant to be temporary since plans are now in the works to extend the lanes further down. Despite that, the HOV lanes have been one of the most successful in the country and carry more people than the SOV lanes. The Beltway is also in the process of being widen with HOT lanes.

I know the NCDOT has discussed HOT lanes, toll roads, and adding more HOV lanes, but I wish they would get the ball rolling and move into the 21st century in terms of roading planning and building. I see other state's implementing these ideas, but we seem to be behind. We can't just widen and pave our way out of congestion forever.

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Ok, a little off the topic of discussion but as for as this whole GasMeck Parkway that's all over the news lately goes, this style of roadway is probably going to be common for the metro if this is project is approved. We will start to see spurs off of 485 onto the major highways and interstates, local communities are going to get greedy really fast. I mean, yes, this will help out the Southern portion of 85, but then you will get people in eastern Meck and Cabarrus County asking for the same thing, a parkway of nearly equal length connecting 485 up to northern 85. Then south Charlotte. Then northern Meck and Iredell will want a better connection than 73 to 85. Eventually, if all communities keep asking for these same types of roads, 485 will be the center of a pinwheel network of roads. If adding this parkway doesn't encourage sprawl, I don't know what does.

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.....Then northern Meck and Iredell will want a better connection than 73 to 85. Eventually, if all communities keep asking for these same types of roads, 485 will be the center of a pinwheel network of roads. If adding this parkway doesn't encourage sprawl, I don't know what does.

I don't think there is much call for a freeway to connect Concord to Lake Norman. Once 485 is completed, that route will serve the need nicely. Freeways in themselves don't promote sprawl. Wreakless zoning promoted by the local goverments that allow the exits to be used as development mechanisms do.

I was interested to discover that toll road building in this state is handled by the NC Turnpike Authority and not the NCDOT.

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Maybe one day the NCDOT will figure out how to pour concrete so that it lays flat and find a source for asphalt that doesn't self destruct in less than 10 years.

NCDOT should be writing contracts with the contractors that puts the contractors on the hook for the quality of the paving for some specified time (10 years). Any failure or deterioration is the responsibility of the contractor to fix on the contractor's dime. Sure it may cost more up-front but think of the long term savings. Or not, since the politicians are only worried about getting reelected.

Let's be honest, this isn't about engineering priorities, it's about political priorities. Let's also be honest that NCDOT demands cheap from their contractor's bids and they get what we pay for.

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A pavement's design life is determined by its expected loading over time. If a road's traffic--especially increased truck traffic--dramatically increases beyond predicted levels, the pavement will wear out quicker. Contractors build what the plans tell them to build, that's all. If the plans don't make the correct prediction, it's not the contractor's responsibility.

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I agree with metro. I remember as a teenager in the 1980s riding on some concrete roads like old 421 that were poured in the 1960s, or 50s. Materials don't seem to last as long now. Something has been cheapened up.

Edited by MZT

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I had the misfortune of needing to go down Harris Blvd today and I noted that on this very congested road, they actually raised the speed limit on the road from 45 to 55. This seems to be exactly opposite of what normally occurs on the roads around here.

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Something that sort of struck a nerve with me, I made record time from Jacksonville to Charlotte today: 5 hours, no ticket-worthy speeds. Great news yes? Well, except for the part where it was clear sailing except for Charlotte. Once getting around the Rock Hill area on 77, I noticed a severe pickup in traffic (around 2pm) which developed into a hault by the time I hit Concord Mills on 85. The two projects of Cabarrus 85 and Southern 77 widenings are badly needed. I feel bad for people traveling through our city now. I don't have a single complaint about the entire drive except for my own city. That's sad to me.

On a seperate off topic note, I counted six people on the way back here today that would not get into the right lane despite being the much slower car. I give people credit if we are in congested traffic, but I'm talking about instances where there weren't any cars in the right lane and I was forced to pass them on the right. The thing I noticed about each one of these cars, the tags were all from states north of D.C. Somebody please tell me, does Slower Traffic Keep Right not apply up north? I decided today to make a sign to hold up in my car stating the STKR law. We'll see how it works although I imagine I'll be using it a lot more as I drive by them on the right.

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