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Author Topic: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities  (Read 8953 times)

Revive 755

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Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« on: September 29, 2010, 07:34:32 PM »

This story or one similar seems to be making the rounds in a few newspapers:

http://www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart

Given that any trip into Chicagoland seems bound to find off-peak congestion somewhere, I call bull.
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6a

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2010, 09:39:15 PM »

I really tire of the dick waving that goes on about who has the worst traffic.  I've lived in Atlanta and Charlotte, they both have shitty traffic at times.  A couple days ago, here in Columbus, we had accidents that closed 670 and 71 at crucial points.  Traffic that day was as bad as I've seen here.  In Atlanta several years ago, a tanker melted the 285 bridge over 400, taking away 3 lanes and traffic got by just fine. 

Traffic happens everywhere, and it happens at different times.  Hell, I got stuck in a jam in downtown Atlanta at 12:30 am on a Sunday.
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agentsteel53

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2010, 09:41:11 PM »

Miami.  Because you can't have dick-waving without dicks.
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Brandon

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2010, 11:14:50 PM »

This story or one similar seems to be making the rounds in a few newspapers:

http://www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart

Given that any trip into Chicagoland seems bound to find off-peak congestion somewhere, I call bull.

I also call bull.  I live near enough to see congestion at almost any hour, day or night.  These writers never took I-55 between 7 and 9 am and 4 and 6 pm.
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jjakucyk

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #4 on: September 30, 2010, 12:06:33 AM »

Well the whole point of the study is that even if all the roads are gridlocked all the time, it's not as big a problem when the typical trip is shorter.  If I spend 15 minutes in stop-and-go traffic and another 5 minutes in free-flowing traffic, that's better than someone who spends 15 minutes in that same stop-and-go traffic but then has another 25 minutes in free-flowing traffic to get where they're going.  However, the Travel Time Index (TTI) would say the 40 minute drive is better because only 37.5% of it was spent in traffic, while the 20 minute drive spent 75% of the time in traffic.  40 minutes is still twice as long as 20 minutes, and could be three or four times as many miles.  

So while there is still a lot of traffic in Chicago, the average commute is much shorter in distance than places like Charlotte or Houston, so the effect of that traffic on people is lessened.  It's a case where intensity (traffic congestion) is tempered by the short duration (time spent driving in total).  The ideal would be low intensity and a short duration, while the worst would be high intensity and a long duration.  TTI is only measuring intensity, so it leaves out a big part of the equation.  

More than anything else though, it does show that using TTI to compare different cities is flawed.  Even when not comparing different cities, it can lead to some illogical decisions about highway building.  You could have some DOT saying, "holy crap, the TTI is horrible!  We need to build more capacity!"  If the average travel time is only 5 minutes however, it's not worth the trouble.  
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 12:09:09 AM by jjakucyk »
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jdb1234

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #5 on: September 30, 2010, 01:52:02 AM »

And not surprisingly, the Birmingham-Hoover Metro area ranked among the worst congested cities.
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mgk920

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #6 on: September 30, 2010, 12:02:51 PM »

My Chicago driving experiences say that on the freeways and tollways, traffic moves as expected and off-peak, it's faster to follow I-94 *THROUGH* the city than it is to take the Tri-State Tollway (I-294) around it.

At the street level, city-wide (and especially in the neighborhoods), traffic in Chicago seems to me to be no worse than it is here in the Appleton area, likely due to the CTA and METRA, higher development density (allowing walking to be more practical for errand trips) and the city's abundance of available alternative surface street routes.  Suburban street-level traffic is far worse, likely due mainly to the far fewer available alternative routes and higher car usage rates.

Mike
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vdeane

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #7 on: September 30, 2010, 12:12:51 PM »

There's also the question of how congestion is measured.  New York City's freeways are not congested if you simply compare the number of cars to the number of lanes.  However, when you take into account their 1930s design, it becomes obvious why they're congested.  One flat tire and the entire freeway is backed up, as there is no shoulder for them to pull over into, and traffic merging on has to accelerate in a travel lane.
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jgb191

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2010, 03:01:32 PM »

I think it because NYC, Philadelphia, and Chicago fast grew up well before the advent of the automobile and consequently had to somehow fit in freeways in and around the city somehow.

Cities like Houston, Dallas, Phoenix, and San Antonio first built freeways and then those cities grew up around them.  So the Sun Belt areas had the space advantage, they could build their freeways as wide as they wanted and then watch their city grow.  Those cities have more cars and drivers but are more spread out.
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thenetwork

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2010, 04:43:41 PM »

This story or one similar seems to be making the rounds in a few newspapers:

http://www.ceosforcities.org/work/driven-apart

Given that any trip into Chicagoland seems bound to find off-peak congestion somewhere, I call bull.


Must have only based their study on the Chicago Skyway!!!  :sombrero:
« Last Edit: September 30, 2010, 06:02:03 PM by AlpsROADS »
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golden eagle

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2010, 12:23:30 AM »

I guess whomever did the study never was on northbound I-57 three years back when a fatal motorcycle accident occurred after 5pm and shut down the interstate to one lane. It happened near the I-80 interchange. It took two hours to get through that.
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brownpelican

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2010, 12:24:34 AM »

Just one breakdown on any of the expressways in New Orleans will tie up traffic for miles, considering there are only and handful of ways in and out of the city.
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Chris

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2010, 04:42:32 PM »

There's also the question of how congestion is measured.  New York City's freeways are not congested if you simply compare the number of cars to the number of lanes.  However, when you take into account their 1930s design, it becomes obvious why they're congested.  One flat tire and the entire freeway is backed up, as there is no shoulder for them to pull over into, and traffic merging on has to accelerate in a travel lane.

Yes, the network is actually not that bad, but it's the design that makes it vulnerable. Have 150,000 vehicles per day on an expressway without a shoulder and a flat tire, breakdown or minor accident is bound to create a huge traffic jam.

Brian556

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2010, 09:16:37 PM »

To me, congested freeways in cites don't bother me so much because there's alot of surface streets that can be used as alternates. What I really hate is congestion in rural ares becuase there usually isn't a good alternate route.
Here in North Texas, the two worst places to have freeway congestion are I-30 at the Lake Ray Hubbard crossing and I-35E at the Lake Lewisville crossing. Thanks to these lakes, there are no good alternate routes around congestion in these areas. I realize that we need the water, but the lakes are a major hinderance to transportation.
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Revive 755

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2010, 02:20:28 AM »

Couple comments from looking through the report again:

* (Page 21/71):  Maybe itís because Iím looking at this fairly late at night but something doesnít seem right here.  It seems compact city has worse congestion because the shorter trip is getting the larger travel time increase - encountering more congestion in a smaller area.

* (Page 25/71):  Would like an opinion from someone here who has driven in rush hour traffic for both Kansas City and San Francisco on who has the worse traffic.

* Section 4-2:  Maybe itís just with the areas I usually travel it, but only once (in the downtown KC loop) have I seen congestion consisting of a consistent lowered travel speed; usually congestion has been of the slow down/speed back up rinse and repeat variety.  The latter version uses much more gas.

* The conclusions section:  Granted I might be cynical here since this section seems to slant towards a Medievalist's point of view, but it seems some of these "accessibility" measures are lacking.  Take walkability:  an area might score very well here, but how well does this work for someone who lives two miles outside this area and has to access it?  For some reason I see a planner getting stuck on only using one score and not looking at overall accessibility.
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golden eagle

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Re: Chicago Among the Least Congested Cities
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2010, 12:47:02 PM »

Just one breakdown on any of the expressways in New Orleans will tie up traffic for miles, considering there are only and handful of ways in and out of the city.

I remember being in New Orleans on the night of a Tulane basketball game and the traffic was rather heavy. I can also imagine the traffic during hurricane evacuations.
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