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Posted at 5:54 PM ET, 04/16/2010

First, let's try
synchronizing the lights

By washingtonpost.com editors

By Lee Lofthus
Olney

Regarding the April 12 front-page article “Poll: D.C. area traffic still taking a toll on workers”:

The Post seems to write two kinds of traffic stories: In one, area drivers are road-clogging villains deserving of punitive commuter taxes and tolls. In the other, as on April 12, gridlock is treated as an inevitability we are powerless to address. What The Post should be exposing is the chronic underperformance of local traffic management efforts.

Before we spend billions on road expansion, how about simply synchronizing the lights to keep traffic moving? Install both dynamic signals and dynamic speed limits that adjust to traffic volume and keep signals green at intersections when there is no cross traffic. Remove unnecessary “No Right on Red” signs. Get more traffic control officers out during rush hour to vigorously enforce the “don’t block the box” rule.

Consider more bidirectional lane controls that make certain lanes inbound in the morning and outbound at night, as is done with success in Rock Creek Park. Enforce rush-hour no-parking rules downtown. Admit that six-lane divided highways that in some sections have 25 mph speed limits ensure gridlock and somnolence, not safety.
Let’s get our 75-minute commutes back to the 40 minutes they used to be, and save time and millions of gallons of gas in the process.

Congestion is real, but we have also squandered much of our road capacity. Until local governments make effective traffic flow a priority, let’s skip all the legislative proposals regarding cellphone bans, speed cameras, traffic “calming” devices, commuter taxes and pet seat belts. That’s not what we need to hear on the radio while we sit stuck in traffic, calling home to say we’ll miss dinner again.

By washingtonpost.com editors  | April 16, 2010; 5:54 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, traffic  | Tags:  D.C. commuting. D.C. traffic, Lee Lofthus  
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