Tuesday June 26, 2007

How to add a lane to I-95

I-95 lane changes

Easy: you remove the shoulders. Here’s the re-striping in progress on Southbound I-95 — the solid stripes are the transition to the small section that’s striped the new way, in preparation for the doubled for-pay express lanes. Observe:

  1. Original shoulder. Wide enough to accommodate a pulled-over car or an emergency vehicle.
  2. New shoulder, approximately two feet wide.
  3. Here’s where the double lines diverge. The faint line is where the lines originally were. The solid lines are the temporary transition to the repainted section.
  4. So all the lanes move over and get a little skinnier, creating a new lane over here.
  5. Here’s where the physical new express lane barrier will go, cordoning off the two left lanes.

So right about now what you’re thinking is “Wait a second, if they think they can just add a lane, why didn’t they do it like, maybe, a few decades ago?!” Well, traffic engineers take it on faith that adding lanes to existing highways brings diminishing returns. You read that correctly: they don’t think a new lane would have helped. So the difference here? Well, they hope that by erecting a physical barrier between some of the lanes, they’ll effectively be creating a separate highway, and this is supposed to make the difference. Charging for the two lanes is more tied to creating a justifiable new revenue source then an integral part of the solution.

In other words, everybody wins. Except the drivers in the regular lanes. Oh, and two-person carpools, who get booted out of the express lanes. And the people paying an amount as yet undisclosed floating rate for the privilege of driving in non-rage-inducing rush-hour conditions. I still say it won’t work.

Update: A commenter suggests that the lane reshuffling may be unrelated to the express lane conversion.

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  1. Dave    Tue Jun 26, 09:33 AM #  

    If you get rid of the shoulders where do the cars that have been in accidents go? They just move to the farthest right lane and block it and quickly remove the extra lane from traffic? This is I-95 we’re talking about which has an accident on one of its lanes at least every mile for its entire length in Miami-Dade just about 24 hours a day…



  2. keyrat    Tue Jun 26, 09:38 AM #  

    Are you sure about this? I was under the impression that the federal funding isn’t there yet or even coming, so why would they start? Miami doesn’t have the money and there’s little signs that they’ll get it.



  3. latinbombshell    Tue Jun 26, 12:01 PM #  

    If there is slow-down and rubbernecking even with a wide shoulder, what will happen now?



  4. alesh    Tue Jun 26, 12:48 PM #  

    Am I sure? Hmm… I’m sure there’s a section of I-95 SB where the lanes are all shifted. I am NOT sure that it’s connected to the express lane business.



  5. miamicanes    Wed Jun 27, 04:10 PM #  

    This is INSANE. Driving on I-95 before it was widened to its current width was a white-knuckle experience… you could lose your arm if you thoughtlessly stuck your elbow too far out the window while resting it on the window ledge. And now, they want to bring back the “good old days”...

    ... and what in god’s name do they think is going to happen when the new lane finally reaches the brain-damaged narrow-beam flyover bottleneck at I-195/SR-112, which (despite the enthusiasm for the new toll lanes) FDOT seems to have no plans to rebuild? Oh, right… everybody in the two leftmost lanes is going to take the exit to Metrorail… [sarcasm]just like they do now[/sarcasm].

    MDX needs to resurrect Central Parkway (the proposed freeway connecting the western end of SR-112 with the eastern end of Gratigny, giving northwest Dade and Broward residents a path to I-75 that doesn’t involve 836 and the Palmetto). Oh, wait. That’s right. It was killed by the same Dade insanity that convinced our dear, wise leaders to officially classify the North Corridor as our most urgently-needed and important once-in-a-generation extension to Metrorail. [sarcasm]As opposed to clearly useless extensions like, say, MIA to FIU...[/sarcasm]