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How To Fix I-74 Traffic
Wednesday June 26, @11:23AM, by bjg
Subject : Bridge Issues
Summary :

Something must be done about I-74 bridge congestion. Some say, "Spend half a billion dollars or more on a new bridge project, then tear down the old bridge."

Text :

Something must be done about I-74 bridge congestion. Some say, "Spend half a billion dollars or more on a new bridge project, then tear down the old bridge."

I respectfully disagree.

In 1970, we had four Mississippi bridges. Today, we have five bridges, with 3,000 fewer residents to cross them. This is not a bridge problem. It’s a traffic control problem. The combination of poorly scheduled metro bridge repair, ever-shifting retail areas and non-existent traffic management serve to bloat Memorial Bridge traffic.

Result? Peak Hours Congestion… Not 24-Hour Congestion.

In Curbing Gridlock, the National Research Council reported, "New construction alone will not significantly ease congestion… When motorists perceive that congestion has lessened during the peak, they change the timing of trips or make trips they formerly did not make… In addition, motorists who formerly took alternate routes during the same time period will soon discover that the new capacity offers a quicker route... Before long, the latent demand congests the new capacity during the peak."

Translation: If you build it, they will come... Thousands of them. Three lanes each way will stuff Iowa’s Locust-Middle Road and 53rd streets, while overloading Illinois’ John Deere Expressway and 23rd Avenue, exploding local traffic, noise, pollution, smell and road work. Every city street feeding I-74 will stagger under this landslide of "optional" traffic.

Here’s what to do instead:

  1. During rush hours, bar heavy trucks and buses; close the State Street & 3rd Avenue on-ramps to avoid jamming bridge entrances; ask major employers and delivery services to schedule around peaks, and; restrict most metro bridge repair to low traffic periods. Peak traffic reduction: 11% - 14%.

  2. Divert thru-traffic by changing all of I-280 to "I-74 / I-280", then re-naming the I-74 Corridor to "I-74 BUSINESS". Traffic drop: 3% - 5%.

  3. Increase flow on the Centennial by yanking tollbooths, and the Government Bridge by finishing repairs. Both jobs will soon be complete. I-74 reduction: 5% - 12%.

  4. During peak periods, reduce the entire I-74 Corridor speed limit; mount speed display boards over each lane, a mile before bridge entrances; sporadically light up bridge-mounted radar for a cop waiting off-bridge. Result: Better flow and fewer traffic clogging accidents.

  5. Station a tow truck at bridge-center to quickly clear accidents at rush hours.

As a result of these measures, companies and motorists will learn to schedule around rush hours, bringing peak traffic within the Bridge’s capacity. Add more controls if needed.

Meanwhile, as time passes, the most suitable location for our future new bridge will reveal itself... the upstream bridge we’ll never get if we build at I-74.

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"Unless they consider some other alternative, I’m in the road."
- Jim Mienke, owner, Mr. Hair
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