Sunday, August 11, 2019

WisDOT should rethink using Madison highway shoulders as peak-traffic lanes

Madison-area growth without adequate regional transit continues to add congestion to the city's Beltlinebut I'd like to throw in a cautionary note about a proposal to use narrow Beltline median shoulders at peak-driving times for moving traffic.

Road shoulders are safety zones for drivers with medical problems or vehicles with mechanical breakdowns.

You need look no farther than the multiple wrecks in the I-94 North-South project - - another one hours ago - - between Milwaukee County and the Illinois line - - to see what can happen when traffic that wants to move is squeezed in unfamiliar ways.

WisDOT says the shoulder repurposing it has in mind for the Madison Beltline is called "Dynamic Part-Time Shoulder Use." 

Beware of road modifications which need pitching through dynamic modifiers. Jumbo shrimp, or new and improved soaps, should sell themselves on merit, not  marketing. 

Another tip to Wisconsin road planners: I know the Legislature is to blame, it's still not a good look to pump up a new plan by saying 17 states are using it when 49 other states and the District of Colombia treat a first OWI offense as a misdemeanor, and Wisconsin does not.

And, again: just because all the other kids get to do something doesn't mean it's a good idea for Wisconsin to follow suit.
Vos wanted higher WI speed limit; credit him the carnage
The evidence from neighboring states provides a clear warning: higher speed limits lead to higher rates of truck involvement in fatal crashes. 
According to the most recent data available from NHTSA (2012), Wisconsin’s rate for large truck involvement in fatal crashes was 7.4 percent, while Minnesota and Iowa - which allow trucks to travel 70 mph on rural highways - were at 10 and 13.2 percent, respectively. Michigan, which has a differential speed limit that keeps trucks below 60 mph even in places where cars are allowed to travel 70 mph, was well below Wisconsin at 5.2 percent. 
Granted the Madison Beltline is not undergoing I-94-style major reconstruction. But road shoulders are there for good reasons; think twice before letting them route you to dire straits.
WisDOT photo accompanying Beltline web history

1 comment:

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