The screwed-up philosophy behind ‘managed lanes’

I have never understood the logic behind these so-called “managed lanes,” also known as Lexus lanes. Take the new project about to open on I-85 north of the Perimeter.

Here’s the theory:

You take an existing lane of interstate highway, an expensive piece of infrastructure that has already been built and paid for by taxpayers both rich and poor through gasoline taxes. You cordon that lane off, allowing access only to those who are willing and able to pay extra to use what they’ve already paid for once.

The idea, we’re told, is that even in the worst traffic, those who can afford the extra cost will be able to buy themselves a free-flowing trip at a minimum of 45 mph. And you accomplish that by raising tolls so high that by design, most people won’t be able to use it. As AJC reporter Ariel Hart notes in a story in today’s newspaper:

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution review of hundreds of pages of documents associated with the project and interviews with outside experts shows the project is expected to increase traffic in the regular lanes in order to to keep the HOV toll lane flowing.

The state’s own traffic and revenue study says the regular lanes are expected to gain up to 90 new vehicles per lane, per hour during rush hour, and at one location 120, making for traffic volumes of about 1,200 to 1,500 cars per hour in each lane.

However, the study insists drivers won’t notice.

Sarah Tabares, who drives I-85 daily on the way to her job at a coffee house on Indian Trail Road, scoffed at the notion that adding yet more cars to the “parking lot” she encounters on the roadway won’t make a difference she can feel. “They’re full of [it],” she said. “I can tell what season we’re in just by the traffic.” And she doesn’t understand why the state would fund a project that leaves most of the roadway’s drivers in the lurch. “I think it defeats its purpose,” she said.

In addition, the money recovered through tolls doesn’t pay for the expensive cameras and other equipment installed to convert the lane. Even worse, it doesn’t even cover the cost of operating that equipment. That additional infrastructure and operating cost is also paid by taxpayers.

So the average commuter stuck in traffic, with nothing but a sea of red brake lights ahead, can look to his or her left and see a free-flowing lane that he or she has paid to build, using equipment that he or she paid to install and operate, and know that BY DESIGN he or she has been priced out of using it.

And this is supposedly a good thing. It is such a good thing that the DOT plans to install a network of such lanes on interstates throughout the region, at considerable taxpayer expense. In most cases they will convert existing HOV lanes to Lexus lanes. In the case of the I-75 and I-575 corridor north of the Perimeter, the state this week sought bids from private companies to build an extra lane and operate it as a managed toll lane. But once again, the project won’t come close to paying for itself. Taxpayers will have to kick in an estimated $300 million to subsidize it.

How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?

– Jay Bookman

290 comments Add your comment

Finn McCool

September 23rd, 2011
8:42 am

My chauffer is excited.

Home, James.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2011
8:42 am

“How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?”

You already know when, when the “government bad, private good (even when subsidized by the bad government)” mantra became common

stands for decibels

September 23rd, 2011
8:43 am

So the average commuter stuck in traffic, with nothing but a sea of red brake lights ahead, can look to his or her left and see a free-flowing lane that he or she has paid to build, using equipment that he or she paid to install and operate, and know that BY DESIGN he or she has been priced out of using it.

And this is supposedly a good thing.

if it means some Goopers get booted out of office as a result, it won’t be a total loss for the state, I guess.

Not that it will. That’ll take the inevitable demographic shift in a few years…

Peter

September 23rd, 2011
8:44 am

Another dumb idea brought to us by the GOP who is all about money and not caring for the citizen !

ty webb

September 23rd, 2011
8:44 am

Agreed Jay. I came back home a view weeks ago. What a cluster@#$%. Glad I want be driving in that mess for awhile.

Normal

September 23rd, 2011
8:45 am

How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?

Ever since the Republicans took over the State of Georgia. Georgia motto: “What’s good for the rich, we do for the rich.”

jm

September 23rd, 2011
8:46 am

“I have never understood the logic behind these so-called “managed lanes,””

Cause you don’t have an economics background.

Stonethrower

September 23rd, 2011
8:46 am

Wealth Envy!

CJ

September 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

We live in a plutocracy, my friends. Welcome to the Corporate States of America.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

Jay, you’re also not a traffic engineer.

ty webb

September 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

sorry, meant “won’t”, not “want”.

Butch Cassidy

September 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

My God, when did the Liberals take over the DOT? I fully expect to see some Tea Party representation to block such an obvious Democratic ploy designed to take even more money from “the rich” to further their cause of “class warfare” and to increase the problem of “wealth envy”!

Oh, and Obama sucks, Obamacare is ruining the country, Yay Ron Paul 2012. :)

Granny Godzilla

September 23rd, 2011
8:47 am

Guy Incognito

September 23rd, 2011
8:48 am

Jay,
“You cordon that lane off, allowing access only to those who are willing and able to pay extra to use what they’ve already paid for once”

Amen. This is my biggest gripe w the new toll lanes

stands for decibels

September 23rd, 2011
8:48 am

I will say this much about the change: per the linked article–

Many will pay no toll at all, since three-person carpools, motorcycles and mass transit vehicles ride free, if they’re registered.

I never understood how two people in a car constituted “high occupancy” anyway. When it’s my family driving somewhere on that stretch of road, we’ll get to use it. So no skin off my nose.

Sorry for the rest of you suckers who trusted the Praaaavuhtaaaazers. Enjoy this latest flareup in the war on the middle class!

jm

September 23rd, 2011
8:48 am

Jay’s been taking a page from the Republican handbook: say no to everything. :)

Jay

September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

So jm, why don’t you explain it to we, the great unwashed….

Go ahead.

JohnnyReb

September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

OFF TOPIC (sorry Jay, but just wanted to drop in with this comment) – after last nights debate, I must rethink my prognostication that Perry will be the Republican nominee. Romney has Romneycare; Perry has the forced inoculation thing; but Perry also has letting illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition which will sink him with the base. Romney is also much slicker in the debates. Regardless of the polls, it appears still Romney’s to loose. Have a good day.

carlosgvv

September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

Jay, it’s not so hard to understand. The rich own the Republican Party. Republicans are the majority political force in Georgia. So, they do anything and everything they can for their rich sponsors.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

Jay, Ok, give me a minute or so.

St Simons - we're on Island time

September 23rd, 2011
8:49 am

I managed to get up to 20 in my lane this morning

RB from Gwinnett

September 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

“How and when did this get accepted as a good idea? ”

It got accepted when government employees needed something to do to justify their jobs after the traffic lights on the ramps project ended which also didn’t do a damn thing for traffic.

Add the multi million dollar waste of money removing reversible lanes from Hwy 78 to the list along with many more I’m sure others can add to the list.

We would have been sooooooooo much better off to have installed a commuter rail in that lane.

stands for decibels

September 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

Cause you don’t have an economics background.

jm, some of us who actually produce goods and services of tangible value, vs. skimming money off of someone else’s efforts, for a living? we understand this all plenty well.

Gotta go produce. Have fun baby-sitting the toddlers, Jay.

(ir)Rational

September 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

jm – Maybe you can explain it since the rest of us think it is such a good idea, and I guess that is just because we’re not traffic engineers, or economists.

Exxon

September 23rd, 2011
8:50 am

The highway is maxed out. You are completely correct in your asessment. Worse GDOT knew if before they started that it will do nothing to actually solve the problem. It is pointless to add additional lanes. They chew real estate and for each additional lane there is only a small benefit. What is the benefit to got from 6 lanes to 7 ? Worse, they need the capacity only a certain times of day. the rest of the day, most of the road capacity is idle. Rail is good for carrying peaky loads like communter traffic. But for rail to work well, it need to be part of a systemic approach. meaning there is planned infrastructure in the burbs and in the city. Once I hit downtown, I gottta have a way to get from the staiton to my location. Systemic approahc. Yeah. Thats the ticket.

Butch Cassidy

September 23rd, 2011
8:51 am

RB from Gwinnett – “We would have been sooooooooo much better off to have installed a commuter rail in that lane.”

Commuter rail is for thugs, gangsters and undesired elements such as liberals, democrats and Obama supporters. ;)

Joel Edge

September 23rd, 2011
8:51 am

“Taxpayers will have to kick in an estimated $300 million to subsidize it.”
Come on, Jay. If the government doesn’t subsidize something, it doesn’t get done. Isn’t that the current liberal mantra?

(ir)Rational

September 23rd, 2011
8:52 am

Wait, not a good idea, dang meds are screwing with my head this morning.

Granny Godzilla

September 23rd, 2011
8:52 am

Traffic engineer?

Damn the logistics elitists!

Tea Party Hobbit

September 23rd, 2011
8:54 am

I will start by saying I don’t personally like the idea of the HOT lanes. In order to avoid paying the toll, on days I commute in with my wife, we are stopping to pick up a coworker so that we can still use it toll-free. But since I attended the DOT meetings, I do know their thought process, and I will try to explain concisely. Don’t shoot the messenger! :)

Currently HOV lanes are overutilized. Too many people use them and often at peak times they will slow almost as much as other lanes. I can’t dispute that, it’s true. So they looked at ways to reduce the congestion in the lane. Easiest would be to switch it to HOV-3. But then the lanes would be underutilized, and at same time all of the 2-person carpools would be pushed over to general lanes and slow them down. Hence the compromise idea, an optional toll to let some non-HOV-3 drivers use the lanes. On paper it kinda makes sense, but I am skeptical of how well the technology will work. Overall I am not a fan, except that it brought extra funding for the GRTA buses I ride most of the time.

JF McNamara

September 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

Its a good idea because wealthy people want it, and that is who pays lobbyist, and that is who tells our Republican legislature what to do.

Finn McCool

September 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

Now can we spend a couple trillion putting in traffic circles at intersections? It’s time!

Butch Cassidy

September 23rd, 2011
8:55 am

Well if you liberals would get a job instead of relying on the government to support you, you could afford to ride in the new HOT lanes. I only hope that there’s a 30 year old healthy male without healthcare insurance that breaks down in the lane so I can run him down in my SUV. (sarcasm intended)

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2011
8:56 am

In addition, the money recovered through tolls doesn’t pay for the expensive cameras and other equipment installed to convert the lane. Even worse, it doesn’t even cover the cost of operating that equipment. That additional infrastructure and operating cost is also paid by taxpayers.

HAHAHAHA

Those Republicans shore knows how to make a profit. You just starts with passing off all yore expenses to the taxpayers and the rest is easy.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
8:57 am

Jay

Traffic Engineering (I’m not a TE, but I understand some of what they know)
1. Traffic volume differentials between fast moving lanes aren’t as different as you might think. In other words, simply by minorly modulating the incoming volume, they can increase traffic speeds, with only a slight reduction in capacity.
2. The HOT lanes will facilitate the use of mass transit buses and provide them with a strategic advantage they currently lack, sitting in traffic with everyone else.
3. As you’ve pointed out, the gas tax doesn’t pay for roads. This is the long term future reality in getting roads to pay for themselves in a world of more efficient vehicles.

Economics
1. Toll lanes enable the more productive use of a valuable resource. People who have a medical emergency, ambulances, people with a very important meeting (or crazy soccer moms) can make use of the HOT lanes to move efficiently around the city when needed. People who are not in a hurry for any reason can use regular traffic.
2. Congestion pricing can help shift people’s commute times by incenting people to use the available capacity at times when it is cheaper, thus making better use of the roadway capacity on a time basis.
3. ATL doesn’t currently have toll roads. This “experiment” will help determine the ability of toll roads to pay for themselves in future projects.

Now. All that said, I’m an advocate of M-ATL massively increasing road capacity, with toll roads that actually add capacity. The last note (item 3 under economics) is related to that. If the tolls can support new capacity, then new construction that gets everyone moving faster could be in the offing.

My 2 cents.

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2011
8:57 am

“So no skin off my nose”

None off mine either, unless you count my taxes that go towards road as “skin”- there’s no interstates that I can use between my home and my office, which is the vast majority of the driving I do.

Steve - USA

September 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

I think the idea sucks but then I have never driven where this system has been used.

How is it working out in other cities?

Gordon

September 23rd, 2011
8:58 am

Terrible idea. It would even be a bad idea if it was fully subsidized by those using it.

ty webb

September 23rd, 2011
8:59 am

“You cordon that lane off, allowing access only to those who are willing and able to pay extra to use what they’ve already paid for once.”

nice try Jay. Actually everyone should be able to afford these lanes. Afterall, we’ve been told for years that the “poor” can’t afford a “driver’s license” by the “it’s a poll tax” crowd, so they really shouldn’t be on the road anyway…therefore only the “rich” should be driving…now if we can only get the women off the road.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:00 am

“ATL doesn’t currently have toll roads” (ignoring 400 obviously, which doesn’t use congestion based pricing)

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2011
9:01 am

I said this when they put in the HOV lanes, and I’ve seen nothing since then to change my mind: they should have put a combination express/reversable lanes in instead. These would have limited exits, no toll, and get those “non-local stops” drivers on their way and out of the way.

Finn McCool

September 23rd, 2011
9:02 am

the money recovered through tolls doesn’t pay for the expensive cameras and other equipment installed to convert the lane

Jay, you know math isn’t a strong suit for conservatives.

Paul

September 23rd, 2011
9:03 am

There’s a very short flick, called something like “Road to Amarillo” in which a group of young adults on a Saturday night are trying to decide where to go. Before you know it they’re in a pickup heading 50 miles to Amarillo. Ensuing conversation, everyone thought everyone else wanted to go there but no one does.

These projects get started thru the bureaucracy and when the problems come up they’re so far in the project has a life of its own. No one’s willing to say ‘we made a bad call’ so they press ahead.

And Georgians pile on the White House over Solyndra?!!?

sfd

From below. Sorry you’re sad. :-( Context was, couple bloggers saw an attractive, speculated she had to have had surgery. My comment is some people are naturally that way. Why not just accept that some things are what they are without human manipulation was my point.

Finn McCool

September 23rd, 2011
9:04 am

Yeah, what is up with those ramp stop lights that are never on? Is that helping?

jt

September 23rd, 2011
9:04 am

If I had to fight with that mess………..and I was stuck in traffic and the “lexus” lanes were moving nicely stuffed with party apparichs and government workers………..I would use the shoulder “emergency” lane…Call it the “loser” lane…..or maybe the “proleteriat” lane.
.
I paid for that too.

GB

September 23rd, 2011
9:04 am

It really is not that complicated. The lanes are not for the rich. They are for anyone whose need for speed, at a given time, is worth the cost of that trip.

This is not a situation where some people will always use the HOT lanes and others will never use them. I may be late for meeting and decide I am willing to pay $5.00 to be on time. Returning from the meeting, with no time pressure, I will save the $5.00 and take a regular lane

Yes, we have already paid for all the lanes. But we will have to pay for more lanes unless the lanes we have are managed more efficiently.

“Price rationing” is a good way to allocate scarce resources. Individuals can make their own decisions about how to spend their own money based on what is important to them.

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

September 23rd, 2011
9:06 am

“…after the traffic lights on the ramps project ended which also didn’t do a damn thing for traffic.”

Irrefutably, undeniably, 100% wrong.

What did you expect? That they would remove cars from the Interstates?

They simply allow for much less congestion where major roads intersect with them.

The answer to this gridlock is simple.

Eliminate ALL taxes on the super-rich and corporations in Georgia. Disband the government thugs, who confiscate via force, the job creator’s money . This would help eliminate income redistribution and keep Those People off of our roads. (Using con logic and Republispeak…)

Aquagirl

September 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

People who have a medical emergency, ambulances, people with a very important meeting (or crazy soccer moms) can make use of the HOT lanes to move efficiently around the city when needed.

Not if they don’t have the money. Andy they’re using MY MONEY to subsidize their choice.

Also, please stop with the “somebody will DIE if we don’t build Lexus Lanes” meme. Ugh.

Paul

September 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

AmVet

Well, that IS the logic applied to a specific situation….

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2011
9:08 am

“Yeah, what is up with those ramp stop lights that are never on? Is that helping?”

Those were the biggest waste of time an money. They do have their uses in the NE corridor where entrance lanes to the interstates can be VERY short, but here in GA where they are entrance/acceleration lanes – TOTALLY useless. Wonder who got the kick-back on THOSE?

Normal

September 23rd, 2011
9:09 am

I see in the future, on a particularly bad grid lock commute, thousands of stranded drivers watching the “Privileged Lane” drivers go zooming by when , all of a sudden, the gun toting grid locked drivers start shooting at the “Privileged”. Since, in Georgia, every poor Redneck owns at least one gun, it will be a slaughter. Hundreds of the “Privileged will die and the “Private Lanes” will be taken over! The massacre will become a Movement and the “Privilege War” will free the oppressed and pull down the rich. It will become like Bastille Day! There will be Justice! Socialism will reign supreme!! It will be grand!!! So build the damn thing, if you dare!! :lol:

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:09 am

Paul, how ya’ll like them toll roads in TX?

Aquagirl

September 23rd, 2011
9:10 am

what is up with those ramp stop lights that are never on? Is that helping?

The traffic guy on 750 said they help, that’s good enough for me. :)

Doggone/GA

September 23rd, 2011
9:12 am

“The traffic guy on 750 said they help, that’s good enough for me”

Yep, as long as they’re turned off they DO help. It’s when they are turned ON that they become a problem

Jay

September 23rd, 2011
9:13 am

1. Traffic volume differentials between fast moving lanes aren’t as different as you might think. In other words, simply by minorly modulating the incoming volume, they can increase traffic speeds, with only a slight reduction in capacity.

Yes, I know. That explains how the managed lane will move more swiftly, with that “slight reduction in capacity” shifted into the non-paying lanes. Doesn’t change a thing.

2. The HOT lanes will facilitate the use of mass transit buses and provide them with a strategic advantage they currently lack, sitting in traffic with everyone else.

Existing HOV lanes already do that to a significant extent. Better patrolling of those lanes would improve it even more, but that enforcement has been lax.

3. As you’ve pointed out, the gas tax doesn’t pay for roads. This is the long term future reality in getting roads to pay for themselves in a world of more efficient vehicles.

Except as we’ve established, these toll projects DON’T pay for themselves. On this project, tolls won’t even cover the operating costs. They require ADDITIONAL subsidies on top of those already existing.

1. Toll lanes enable the more productive use of a valuable resource. People who have a medical emergency, ambulances, people with a very important meeting (or crazy soccer moms) can make use of the HOT lanes to move efficiently around the city when needed. People who are not in a hurry for any reason can use regular traffic.

In other words, they’re reserved for those whose time is more valuable, right? That’s the essence of the idea.

2. Congestion pricing can help shift people’s commute times by incenting people to use the available capacity at times when it is cheaper, thus making better use of the roadway capacity on a time basis.

Congestion itself already does that. The marginal effect of adding the toll is insignificant in changing behavior.

3. ATL doesn’t currently have toll roads. This “experiment” will help determine the ability of toll roads to pay for themselves in future projects.

Except that again, not even the advocates of these projects claim they will come close to paying for themselves.

Now. All that said, I’m an advocate of M-ATL massively increasing road capacity, with toll roads that actually add capacity. The last note (item 3 under economics) is related to that. If the tolls can support new capacity, then new construction that gets everyone moving faster could be in the offing.

And where exactly are you going to build these roads? Where are you going to find the open real estate needed to “massively increas(e) road capacity”? Even the road-happy DOT concedes that the days of major highway construction in this region are over, that we’re down to trying to squeeze better performance out of what we have.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:14 am

This kind of reminds me of that brilliant plan a while back where airline passengers could pay more to skip security — that didn’t work out too well either.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

Wow, again, Jay blows jm’s arguments right out the door — and he doesn’t even have an economist background or nothing.

Jay

September 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

Actually, repeated research shows that on-ramp lights DO work to reduce congestion and speed traffic on the receiving road. The downside is that it shifts that congestion to the ramp and feeder streets.

Libertarian

September 23rd, 2011
9:15 am

“In addition, the money recovered through tolls doesn’t pay for the expensive cameras and other equipment installed to convert the lane. Even worse, it doesn’t even cover the cost of operating that equipment”

Where is the money going then? And how much are these tolls going to cost?

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

Normal, you crack me up! It’s REVOLUTION TIME I say!! :lol:

Jay

September 23rd, 2011
9:17 am

The tolls will cost anywhere from 10 to 90 cents a mile, Libertarian, depending on how much traffic they have to discourage from using the lane.

AmVet - A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. ~Franklin D. Roosevelt

September 23rd, 2011
9:19 am

Jay, at 9:15, exactly.

I use the PIB on ramp to 285 south all the time.

Traffic in the right land of the Interstate would back up more than a mile due to the ocean of cars merging.

Now that line is considerably shorter, and often times, non-existent, though it takes more time for the folks on the on-ramp to merge.

IMHO, it works better this way…

Paul

September 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

jm

Most work well, some are getting as crowded as the non-toll roads. Difference we have is all lanes are toll. But…. there’s a move to convert some HOV lanes to toll lanes.

Nice thing is our toll tags work throughout the state. I can go thru the tolltag gate in Houston or Dallas.

But my biggest problem is not just with newly constructed toll roads being turned over to private developers (biggest reason is politicians not having spine to say ‘you want this, people? Then pay for it yourself”) but converting existing roads we’ve already paid for to toll roads.

(ir)Rational

September 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

Normal – While humorous, the logic is fatally flawed. Why would a Republican revolution turn the country towards socialism? We’ll be careful with our targets and only take out the liberals. Duh. ;)

Libertarian

September 23rd, 2011
9:20 am

Eh, this is why I live ITP.

And I never see those ramp stop lights on either.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:21 am

1. you’re making a mountain out of molehills
2. I never saw a passable HOV lane at rush hour in my experience. And it isn’t due to cheaters. There are too many 2-person vehicles to make the HOV lane passable.
3. True, not currently as PROJECTED. The data will be interesting from the first HOT lane.

1. Fundamentally, yes. The time value of money to an ambulance patient is somewhat different than someone on their way to go get a beer at happy hour with friends. But yes, wealthier people will be more inclined to use the lanes, and will pay to do so. (see previous note 3)
2. Perhaps.
3. We’ll have to see. If the lanes don’t even pay for their incremental costs (but we won’t know until after the fact in reality), then I agree that their value is significantly diminished.

Double deck the dern roads. It would take gas taxes and tolls. But double deck interstates exist in every major city.

Paul

September 23rd, 2011
9:21 am

AmVet

Happy with your new ride?

mike "hussein" smith

September 23rd, 2011
9:22 am

It’s a Sonny Perdue/Nathan Deal thing, Jay — impossible to understand. May it become the GOP’s Waterloo.

stands for decibels

September 23rd, 2011
9:22 am

From below. Sorry you’re sad. Context was, couple bloggers saw an attractive, speculated she had to have had surgery. My comment is some people are naturally that way. Why not just accept that some things are what they are without human manipulation was my point.

No worries, Paul. I was just being hyper-meta and ultra-snarky about how you’ve been enough of a FNC viewer to take note of such things in the first place.

(Because any time you switch on FNC, a kitteh dies, you see. I’ve killed several hundred that way, at least, myself.)

Your points about appreciating human beauty for what it is (and by implication, what it becomes as one matures? yes?) is per usual spot on and immediately understood by yrs trly.

/drive by, and beg pardon for the off-topic intrusion.

(ir)Rational

September 23rd, 2011
9:23 am

I always though the ramp meters worked well on 75 when I was making that commute.

I wish to propose another, even simpler and cheaper (for the government anyway) solution to our traffic problem. I cut my commute from an hour plus (usually on the hour and a half side) to ten minutes by moving into the city. Now, not saying I want to see the entire metro area crammed into the city at all times, but it would cut down on your commute times.

Strawman

September 23rd, 2011
9:23 am

Jay, good column. I commute up and down I-85. I think you would feel much better if you learned to stop worrying and love da bomb (that is government at work). Some mysteries cannot be understood.

Jay

September 23rd, 2011
9:23 am

GB, that’s the best defense I’ve heard. However, I still have a serious problem using “price rationing” to allocate publicly provided, tax-funded goods and services. There’s a fundamental contradiction of purposes baked into that philosophy.

ragnar danneskjold

September 23rd, 2011
9:24 am

Sounds like a clever way to increase government revenues – a self-imposed tax. As is my character, I will opt out.

Joe Mama

September 23rd, 2011
9:24 am

Jay — “So the average commuter stuck in traffic, with nothing but a sea of red brake lights ahead, can look to his or her left and see a free-flowing lane that he or she has paid to build, using equipment that he or she paid to install and operate, and know that BY DESIGN he or she has been priced out of using it.”

This. Well done, Jay.

I have to cross or cross over three *major* thoroughfares on my way to and from work each day, but I don’t have to actually get on any of them — and that suits me fine.

When I used to consult and fly around all the time, people used to marvel at how difficult they thought my commute was. ‘How can you stand to go through Hartsfield at least twice a week, every week,’ they’d ask.

“How can you stand to get on 285 twice a *day,* I’d reply. :D

At least I got to sit in a big comfy chair and listen to music or watch a movie during my commute. Sometimes, a purty flight attendant would bring me a drink and a meal. You’re not liable to get that even in your Escalade.

Curious

September 23rd, 2011
9:25 am

How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?

Maybe it’s a good idea if it will help Governor Deal’s network of good ole boys enable him to chop away some of his debt! Who chooses the companies that will be responsibile for the Lexus Lanes?

Aquagirl

September 23rd, 2011
9:27 am

as long as they’re turned off they DO help. It’s when they are turned ON that they become a problem

I think Jay is right, the on-ramp lights do cause more congestion on the ramp and street (duh) but as AmVet points out, it pays off in managing the merging madness. Cap’n Herb gets to see it from a helicopter, probably the only place where you could see with your own eyes how it improves traffic flow. From the ground it looks insane and adds another light.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:28 am

GB. thanks. “need for speed” explains it better than “marginal utility” does for Jay. :)

RB from Gwinnett

September 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

“Actually, repeated research shows that on-ramp lights DO work to reduce congestion and speed traffic on the receiving road. The downside is that it shifts that congestion to the ramp and feeder streets.”

Gee, I’m sure all those commuters feel soooooooooo much better knowing their overall commute didn’t improve one bit, but they spent less time on the freeway (offset by more time on the ramp and trying to get to the freeway). The end net result is money wasted on stupid lights on ramps by a bunch of money hungry goverment agencies all whining because they don’t have enough……..wait for it……….wait………MONEY!

Teaching moron drivers some basic rules of lane disicpline and courtesy would go a long way to making traffic flow a whole lot better without building anything.

Paul

September 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

Curious

I have a vague recollection of Rep Tom DeLay, then Republican House Majority Leader out of Sugarland (Houston) TX killing a mass transit project. Said he wasn’t aware of any reliable data showing Texans were clamoring for mass transit (about the only time he cited data in making a decision…). Anyhow, funds were shifted to building more freeway lanes.

Care to guess what industries some of his biggest political contributors were in?

1811/0311

September 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

JAY:

“How and when did this get accepted as a good idea?”

Whether it happens (happened) in a Republican or Democrat state administration, it’s just more BIG GOVERNMENT out of control.

That’s your answer and you can apply it to a couple of hundred other issues.

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2011
9:29 am

This seems like the perfect plan to entice people to relocate closer to work and maybe pick a home within walking distance of work and shopping and dining. It is a buyer’s market and I hear interest rates are really low.

Libertarian

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

At least building this new lane might “create jobs.” :-)

Joe Mama

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

jm — “Double deck the dern roads. It would take gas taxes and tolls. But double deck interstates exist in every major city.”

Even in Honolulu. The H-1 freeway (yes, Hawaii has three “interstates” that don’t even leave Honolulu County) runs over the top of Nimitz Highway. Nimitz is at ground level and has traditional intersections with streets in the Salt Lake and Honolulu International Airport area; the H1 runs atop it.

Of course, land’s kind of at a premium out there. Rush hour out there can be close to as bad as it is here.

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

Care to guess what industries some of his biggest political contributors were in?

Don’t the use a lot of concrete to build roads in Texas.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

“I hear interest rates are really low” 3.75% hereabouts.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:31 am

So RB, do you have any actual solutions instead of just bitching about things all the time?

Joe Mama

September 23rd, 2011
9:34 am

RB — “Teaching moron drivers some basic rules of lane disicpline and courtesy would go a long way to making traffic flow a whole lot better without building anything.”

This. Drivers are MUCH nicer to each other in Honolulu. Even with the lousy rush hour, if you need to merge or change lanes, just hit your turn signal. Within a minute, someone will wave you into their lane.

Something similar happens here if you try that, but they don’t wave at you and they make a completely different hand gesture.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:34 am

“you have any actual solutions instead of just bitching about things all the time?”

you have any actual content worthy comments other than being Jay’s cheerleader?

blue_unicorn

September 23rd, 2011
9:35 am

1) I predict chaos, as unsuspecting out-of-towners find themselves trying to deal with all that signage.
2) Locals will soon figure out that the HOT lanes are useless for any commute that does not run the entire length of the lanes. You cannot enter or exit the HOT lanes at Old Peachtree Rd, Sugarloaf Parkway, or Ga 120. You can enter southbound at Indian trail egress point, but have to exit at Pleasantdale Rd. if you want to go to I285 . Should be fun watching folks try to get from the HOT lane across 4 lanes of traffic when the exit I285 lanes are backed up a mile or so.
3) The toll revenue may not pay the bills, but lane violation citations may. Crossing the double solid lines is a $25 fine. With cameras and sensors staged every 1/10th mile, it will be easy for the system to detect a driver has entered or exited the lane by crossing the double solid line, take a photo of the plate, and mail the perp a ticket.

Don

September 23rd, 2011
9:35 am

There is only one benefit to these HOT lanes. The Xpress and GCT commuter buses will have more reliable trip times.

The negatives:

1. Spent tax money on a capital investment that SUBTRACTS capacity from the highway. The roadway as a whole will not be able to handle as much traffic and the non-toll lanes will jam up more frequently.

2. “Farebox recovery” is negative and almost as bad as Amtrak’s. We have a tell lane that only will collect 80 cents for every dollar it cost to operate it…and that’s the projection. It could be a whole lot worse.

3. Safety is reduced. Increasing the speed differential between the LH non-toll lane and the HOT lane increases the likelihood of a serious wreck. All it takes is one driver swerving out of his lane into the HOT lane to avoid a collision in stop-and-go traffic to have a thunderous wreck in the HOT lane. It’s scary enough the way it is now.

The good news is that all toll scanners and cameras and be turned off and the lane restored to a normal HOV lane in a moment’s notice. The bad news is GA would likely have to refund the Feds their share of the capital to be allowed to do this.

What a waste of money!

ty webb

September 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

jm,
You can “b#tch” about things just as long as you also refer to people as “wingnuts” every other comment…what, you didn’t get the memo?

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

Politico: “Obama shifts to education”

So much for Obama working on job creation.

TaxPayer

September 23rd, 2011
9:37 am

I’m glad I get to pick when and even if I want to get on the “expressway” or is it “freeway”.

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

ty. :D Yeah, missed that one.

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

ty,

The memo you obviously didn’t get is that we are the moonbats, you guys are the wingnuts, keep up dude!

Mighty Righty

September 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

Only a brain dead government bureaucrat would see the solution to too much traffic is to decrease lanes and use a problem as an excuse to increase taxes. This idea will increase traffic delays, increase polution and most likely be an economic loser. Who ever came up with this hair brained scheme should be immediately fired.

1811/0311

September 23rd, 2011
9:40 am

“Beltway” or “Perimeter” ?

jm

September 23rd, 2011
9:41 am

Report: $600M paid to dead feds
By MACKENZIE WEINGER | 9/23/11 8:47 AM

Improper payments to deceased federal retirees have reportedly spiked over the past five years.
http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0911/64263.html

Bosch

September 23rd, 2011
9:42 am

“Only a brain dead government bureaucrat would see the solution to too much traffic is to decrease lanes and use a problem as an excuse to increase taxes.”

Yeah, MR, and all our govt. bureaucrats are GOPers, go figure.

ty webb

September 23rd, 2011
9:42 am

Bosch,
just razzing you a bit.