Friday, January 04, 2008
Hwy 40 Shutdown: The Mother of All "Traffic Calming" Devices?
Have you ever watched the water in your bathtub with the drain open? The water in most of the tub is barely moving, while the water headed toward the drain starts accelerating like crazy. That's the way it is with highway traffic.
With traffic dispersed throughout a large system, it has countless avenues back and forth, travels a little slower, and everything seems to be a little more relaxed. However, once it gets concentrated onto a single roadway (Highway 40), it speeds up, gets clogged if there's a blockage, and there's more friction in the system (sort of like what happens to blood cells flowing through the inside of a human artery with arterial sclerosis).
Yesterday we had a meeting out in the UCity/Ladue/Clayton area near the intersection of Delmar and I-170. So we took the new Highway 40 to 170 route back and forth. For the next year, inner ring Highway 40 drivers have most of the road to themselves.
In both directions, travel on Highway 40 was smooth sailing. Traffic volume was easily cut by half. On the return trip from Delmar and 170, the southbound connection from 170 to east bound Hwy 40 felt like a trip on the Disneyland Monorail. No longer are drivers doing that crazy mambo at the old 170/Eager/Brentwood interchange.
Instead, southbound 170 drivers are swooped through a 2-lane aerial flyover ramp, seamlessly connecting to eastbound 40. It feels like the "Innerbelt" now runs all the way downtown. It's awesome.
We won't be doing much driving out in the area of 270 and 44, so others will have to report on how things are working out on the roads in the westplex. However, for those driving within the inner core of our region, the first year of the 40 shutdown appears to be more like going on a Sunday drive, seven days a week.