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Pickle20

Why is traffic so bad in Baltimore?

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Another fine example of the city goooberment at work. :rolleyes:

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You'd think with all the taxes they'd have the money to fix stuff like this. But nope.

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I might be able to provide a little straight dope on this, but I need to talk to the signal guys I work with. I'll share the opinions of people that have been doing signals in the counties for decades, but I hadn't seen this story until today. I do know that every signal job we do, if it's a new signal or not, must be tied into the other signals along the given route. And most still fail.

We work almost exclusively in the counties, but we have been getting some work in the city. What I do know is that intersections are graded with a letter system, just like in school, depending on basically how many light phases it takes to clear the queue. As you can guess, in pretty much any congested area, the signals get a fail because there's simply too much volume. I know that in my neighborhood, if you're leaving at 7:30, you will likely sit through two cycles at places like Honeygo and Rt 43. The signals are synced, but the volume overwhelms. Consider the added lane on the Severn River bridge. It might alleviate some congestion temporarily, But I could cite maybe 20+ planned developments along that corridor, that will render the new change useless in a couple years. I'm talking housing projects with hundreds of new homes. And retail development on every corner. These are trip generators and development always out paces road improvements. This is happening everywhere, and each home adds at least 2 added cars to the arterial roads.  

Anyone that drives in AA county along rt 2 or rt 3, or 97 or 50....expect it to get much worse. People would be stunned to know how much the pace of development will exceed the ability to keep up. If you know of a wooded area, take my word, it will likely be developed. We do all sorts of traffic studies, like turning movements, lead and lag, etc...and pretty much every signal in many areas get failing grades at peak times. 

Sorry, signals are not really what I do, but I know people who are pros and have worked with each district for years, so I'll ask and see if I can offer any insight on what the reality is for Baltimore. 

What I do know is that a lot of the problem stems from simply bad driving. In most cases, it's people being selfish and doing anything to get through the light. If an intersection is blocked one way, it has a cascade effect. 

You can't simply adjust one signal on the fly from a "command center" and not have it screw everything up, down or up-stream. 

The city was not designed for the current volumes, and theres very little options for widening or adding lanes. 

 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting post Pepper. Thanks. That’s why we need more options...

I’m in no way a traffic engineer, but I have to work with them sometimes. I used to a lot. Now not so much... changed jobs...

Edited by Marshan Man

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I wasn’t old enough to recall it happening, and maybe someone can shed some light, but I understand that decades ago, Mikulski shut down the possibility of a highway from downtown to eastern Baltimore County, which basically left 2 real ways out of the City (83 N and 95 S) which is crazy, and obviously impossible for a city to overcome.  Not only did it choke the city, it choked the beltway in forcing everyone to either north or south of city to enter/exit.  

That and a complete lack of viable train transportation kept Baltimore from emerging as a big city in the 70s and 80s. I mean the light rail trains which have TO WAIT AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS in the City.  Nobody thought that might defeat the purpose of getting on a train?

Working downtown is miserable.  I hope to never do it again.  

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People who gridlock. I can hardly wait to see them ticketed.

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9 minutes ago, Sprightly said:

People who gridlock. I can hardly wait to see them ticketed.

I feel that way a lot. In the last four years, traffic, traffic patters and flow, have become my everyday life. It's very interesting, but I've found that Human nature is more often than not a massive contributor of why it's often so messed up. Consider, the tunnels at rush hours...I do whats called lead and lag studies, and it's amazing how drive habits are just as relevant as poor road design.

Hundreds of traffic studies at so many intersections has taught me what I sort of already knew. Ever been at a busy light, tens of cars back, and seen a driver leaving 100 yard gaps as they slowly join the procession? thats referred to as lag, and really screws up the timing process, although it must be considered and built into the design. And how about when that lagger in front of you suddenly accelerates when the light turns yellow, leaving you (and 15 other cars) stuck at a light that all could have easily cleared, if simply those types of drivers kept up with the flow?  I would bet that some people reading this are guilty, and likely don't even realize it. Most intersections would not suck as bad if people would just go  and think about their role in clearing an intersection. It's amazing, considering they also had to sit at he same light, without seeing whats very obvious.

I'm not talking about aggressive driving. Tailgating is a real pet peeve of mine. The real problem is people being in their own little bubble.

If you've heard anyone saying how much they hate merging onto a highway, it's very likely that they, or drivers in front of them, don't think to use the acceleration lane to get match the speed of the established traffic flow.  we all see that all the time. People bunch up, then aggression follows, and it makes it dangerous and frustrating.

Autonomous cars will at some point fix a lot of this, but it would demand that every car on the road is able to communicate with every other car. The future will see the elimination of most signalized intersections, as cars will communicate with each other, and time their approach to move lots of cars while eliminating the human component. I've seen programs that show this could work, with cars moving quickly with an equal gap.

What I don't like is that it would demand that every car be connected and hooked up. There could not be a guy with a 70 Chevelle in the mix. The tech will exist long before the public is willing to adopt it.

 

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Also. avoid driving on the shoulder if you can avoid it. I've walked tens of thousands of feet on shoulders and I can tell you, it's where all the bad stuff on the roads ends up. Nothing but nails, screws, bits of metal...and worst of all, a very common thing is the trash people toss from their cars. It's beyond horrible, and if you don't walk it up close, you have no idea. 

In some areas, the wrapped up dirty baby diaper is insanely common. And from what I see, if theres a real accident, most bits and pieces end up in the swale on the other side of the guardrail. It's really insane.

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10 hours ago, Balmerboh said:

I wasn’t old enough to recall it happening, and maybe someone can shed some light, but I understand that decades ago, Mikulski shut down the possibility of a highway from downtown to eastern Baltimore County, which basically left 2 real ways out of the City (83 N and 95 S) which is crazy, and obviously impossible for a city to overcome.  Not only did it choke the city, it choked the beltway in forcing everyone to either north or south of city to enter/exit.  

That and a complete lack of viable train transportation kept Baltimore from emerging as a big city in the 70s and 80s. I mean the light rail trains which have TO WAIT AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS in the City.  Nobody thought that might defeat the purpose of getting on a train?

Working downtown is miserable.  I hope to never do it again.  

Yes, she didn't want an expressway cutting through Fells Point and Canton, cutting them off from the waterfront.  Good for her.  If you notice the relatively new houses along Boston Street east of Lakewood (compared to the rest of the neighborhood), it's because that land was cleared for the expressway.

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Why is working downtown miserable?   Lots of lunch spots and other shopping within walking distance.  The bus drops you off close to your office.

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Pratt street is always a nightmare between the convention center and Harborplace.  Still, better than DC or LA.

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Posted (edited)

11 hours ago, Sprightly said:

People who gridlock. I can hardly wait to see them ticketed.

Bmore needs signage like they have in DC -- DON'T BLOCK THE BOX. And you will get ticketed if you do.

Mikulski also stopped the Route 70 connection to downtown which would have also alleviated a ton of traffic that now has to get on 695 to continue downtown via I-95 or I-83.

Baltimore's infrastructure is a system of catastrophic failures IMO. Has to be the worst city planning and execution in the USA.

Edited by Pickle20

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And they are pushing to have people move back that have left.  Add this to the MANY reasons people leave. 

 

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11 hours ago, pepper said:

I feel that way a lot. In the last four years, traffic, traffic patters and flow, have become my everyday life. It's very interesting, but I've found that Human nature is more often than not a massive contributor of why it's often so messed up. Consider, the tunnels at rush hours...I do whats called lead and lag studies, and it's amazing how drive habits are just as relevant as poor road design.

Hundreds of traffic studies at so many intersections has taught me what I sort of already knew. Ever been at a busy light, tens of cars back, and seen a driver leaving 100 yard gaps as they slowly join the procession? thats referred to as lag, and really screws up the timing process, although it must be considered and built into the design. And how about when that lagger in front of you suddenly accelerates when the light turns yellow, leaving you (and 15 other cars) stuck at a light that all could have easily cleared, if simply those types of drivers kept up with the flow?  I would bet that some people reading this are guilty, and likely don't even realize it. Most intersections would not suck as bad if people would just go  and think about their role in clearing an intersection. It's amazing, considering they also had to sit at he same light, without seeing whats very obvious.

I'm not talking about aggressive driving. Tailgating is a real pet peeve of mine. The real problem is people being in their own little bubble.

If you've heard anyone saying how much they hate merging onto a highway, it's very likely that they, or drivers in front of them, don't think to use the acceleration lane to get match the speed of the established traffic flow.  we all see that all the time. People bunch up, then aggression follows, and it makes it dangerous and frustrating.

Autonomous cars will at some point fix a lot of this, but it would demand that every car on the road is able to communicate with every other car. The future will see the elimination of most signalized intersections, as cars will communicate with each other, and time their approach to move lots of cars while eliminating the human component. I've seen programs that show this could work, with cars moving quickly with an equal gap.

What I don't like is that it would demand that every car be connected and hooked up. There could not be a guy with a 70 Chevelle in the mix. The tech will exist long before the public is willing to adopt it.

 

Great post Pepper, thank you. 

AA County is a mess with traffic and development is out of control. Getting in and out of Pasadena is ridiculous. They need to widen Rt. 100 from Mountain Road down to 97. Then of course you have Arundel Mills to contend with which always have heavy traffic and no signs of development slowing down. 

Come on September, I can't wait to get out of here.  

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16 hours ago, Dystopia said:

You'd think with all the taxes they'd have the money to fix stuff like this. But nope.

To little left over after handing out all the 'Lawyer Lotto' cash. :lol:

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11 hours ago, pepper said:

Also. avoid driving on the shoulder if you can avoid it. I've walked tens of thousands of feet on shoulders and I can tell you, it's where all the bad stuff on the roads ends up. Nothing but nails, screws, bits of metal...and worst of all, a very common thing is the trash people toss from their cars. It's beyond horrible, and if you don't walk it up close, you have no idea. 

In some areas, the wrapped up dirty baby diaper is insanely common. And from what I see, if theres a real accident, most bits and pieces end up in the swale on the other side of the guardrail. It's really insane.

I walked the woods and streams adjacent to the shoulders. It's even worse down there. PG County is the worst. The soils are highly erodible. So many drainage outfalls and undermined concrete swales have eroded to the point where the roadway is often compromised. If people on some of these highways knew what they were driving over. But yeah, I prefer to stay toward the center lanes. 

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Let me tell you about the traffic in Toms River, NJ.  And that's when the Bennies (vacationers) aren't here!  Wait till the summer!

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1 hour ago, Pickle20 said:

Bmore needs signage like they have in DC -- DON'T BLOCK THE BOX. And you will get ticketed if you do. Oh yeah....that will work....just like the 'Gun Free and Drug Free' zone signs ....that has been sooooooo successful. :rolleyes::lol:

Mikulski also stopped the Route 70 connection to downtown which would have also alleviated a ton of traffic that now has to get on 695 to continue downtown via I-95 or I-83. As I recall she rallied behind doing that as it was having an unfair impact of some citizens in city more so on the West side....I still admire the off ramp to nowhere on 95 that would have tied to 70 as you approach the bridge. 

Baltimore's infrastructure is a system of catastrophic failures IMO. Has to be the worst city planning and execution in the USA. City planning...didn't you say that it was MDOT that controls this stuff? Just putting blame where it is due. 

As you can see.... I threw in the towel.

I figure I will just edit quotes like everyone else....much easier. 

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3 minutes ago, Guido2 said:

As you can see.... I threw in the towel.

I figure I will just edit quotes like everyone else....much easier. 

I didn't say that about the MDOT but point taken, the state shares much of the blame for Baltimore too.

As for Mikulski, I think it was more about tearing down trees in Leakin Park. The West Side had already been leveled and people displaced to build the Highway to Nowhere.

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5 minutes ago, Baltimatt said:

Let me tell you about the traffic in Toms River, NJ.  And that's when the Bennies (vacationers) aren't here!  Wait till the summer!

He is another one for your NJ slang dictionary. Besides that ....it also means someone that did below...and packed box lunches in shoe boxes to cut costs. 

Shoobie is a term used to describe a tourist who visits the seashore for a day (a daytripper), primarily to use the beach during the summer months. Shoobie is used in the Southern New Jersey coast (along with other parts of the east coast), and resort towns in California.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoobie

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Just now, Guido2 said:

He is another one for your NJ slang dictionary. Besides that ....it also means someone that did below...and packed box lunches in shoe boxes to cut costs. 

Shoobie is a term used to describe a tourist who visits the seashore for a day (a daytripper), primarily to use the beach during the summer months. Shoobie is used in the Southern New Jersey coast (along with other parts of the east coast), and resort towns in California.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoobie

Wow, I learn something new every day.  Thanks.

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Just now, Pickle20 said:

I didn't say that about the MDOT but point taken, the state shares much of the blame for Baltimore too.

As for Mikulski, I think it was more about tearing down trees in Leakin Park. The West Side had already been leveled and people displaced to build the Highway to Nowhere.

I apologize for tagging you with that.....but I know someone here did...MM? No matter. 

The whole Mikulski/70 thing to me has over the years taken on 'urban legend' proportions. You can read 5 different articles and find 20 different reasons why she stepped in and stopped it. However ....and I again can be wrong....it seems that when I moved down here in the 80's the top of the list was how the lower class and poor on the west side were having entire neighborhoods literally destroyed for 70. And as always...it was too little too late when it was stopped....the area had already been trashed.

The path that was cut I think was referred to as Baltimore's Berlin Wall. 

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4 minutes ago, Baltimatt said:

Wow, I learn something new every day.  Thanks.

:D I lived in NJ for over 30 years and a lot of time around Seaside Heights, Midway and the Wildwoods.

Do you know about the 'Pine Barrens Devil'?  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jersey_Devil

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