14.9.12

THE POINT OF TRAFFIC TAMING IS TO LESSEN COMPLEXITY.

The temptation of traffic engineers, however, is to provide complexity and call it intelligent design.

Consider a relatively simple concept, the rotary.  In Britain, it can be designated by a dot in the centre of the intersection, and a British observer of what Midwestern traffic engineers do by way of excessive signage is less than impressed.  In the Land of Lincoln, though, drivers do not like rotaries, apparently preferring the existing systems of traffic control, in which the cycle of left arrows and straight greens lasts longer than the Gettysburg Address.  The post last cited suggested that the new rotaries, or, as they call them in America's Dairyland, roundabouts, incorporated the worst features of traffic control, with multiple lanes into the circle, and gantries with lane designators over those lanes.  Not surprisingly, some southeastern Wisconsin politicians are on record against construction of new ones, and an existing one has become an obstacle to navigation.
The roundabout at the intersection of state Highways 59 and 83 in Genesee, southwest of Waukesha, was first completed last fall. When the roundabout was designed years earlier, neither of the roads was designated high traffic. But while the work was wrapping up, Highway 59 became designated for overweight, oversize trucks, said Michael Pyritz, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

He said engineers assumed at the time, based on two-dimensional models, that trucks would be able to swing and navigate the roundabout just fine. However, he said, engineers did not have three-dimensional modeling, which would have allowed them to check for potential problems with the height of the 6-inch curb.

"The way the roundabout was built, they did not foresee, because the modeling did not exist at the time, that there'd be a problem," Pyritz said.

Soon after the roundabout opened on Oct. 7, 2011, law enforcement started getting calls about lowboy trailers getting stuck on the curb of the roundabout, which blocked the road. Lowboys are semi trucks with extremely low decks that are used to haul tall and heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and other industrial items.
The state highways so named are, in that part of the Kettle Moraine, laid out on the rights-of-way of ancient Indian trails.  The Great Spirit never envisioned 53 foot low-boys, let alone double-bottoms, on those roads.  But apparently, rather than pushing back at the abuse of truck-drivers, not to mention nearby passenger vehicles, that the presence of those elephants represents, the roads, and eventually the commercial districts of towns along the way, must be rebuilt to accommodate the elephants.

No comments: