Chicago Boyz

                 
 
 
What Are Chicago Boyz Readers Reading?
 

 
  •   Enter your email to be notified of new posts:
  •   Problem? Question?
  •   Contact Authors:

  • CB Twitter Feed
  • Blog Posts (RSS 2.0)
  • Blog Posts (Atom 0.3)
  • Incoming Links
  • Recent Comments

    • Loading...
  • Authors

  • Notable Discussions

  • Recent Posts

  • Blogroll

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Gridlock

    Posted by Carl from Chicago on October 17th, 2015 (All posts by )

    I remember when I first joined companies I assumed that the executives in charge knew what they were doing and wouldn’t do something ridiculously stupid. After a while I came to learn that this wasn’t the case.

    In Chicago recently an effort is underway to increase the use of bikes and create additional lanes for safety. At the same time they are attempting to create a bus corridor in the loop.

    The net result, sadly, is utter and complete gridlock. I have stopped taking the bus unless the weather is horrendous because many of the intersections between River North and the Loop are facing gridlock, where cars are in the intersection after the light changes and no one can move. This was already the case on Thursdays and Fridays after work as everyone moved to exit the city at one time.

    They are also building a lot of new high rises, particularly near the Merchandise Mart / Wolf Point. It is incredible that they are able to pack more high rises into that area because traffic is unbelievably bad at that location, already. There is a Brown Line stop nearby but that only is useful for those on that train line and most of the wealthy folks that live / work in that location will likely drive frequently.

    On the other hand, it is good for the “steps” that I track on my iPhone. Since taking a cab or even the bus is mostly pointless I am walking to work more often. When the weather gets terrible I will likely just sit on the bus and read my iPhone like everyone else while sitting motionless in traffic.

    Cross posted at LITGM

     

    18 Responses to “Gridlock”

    1. Jonathan Says:

      Something like this is happening in my area. Many new high-rises are being built, thousands of new condos. The new buildings all have garages but nothing is being done to expand the streets. If anything the city is reducing street capacity by adding bike lanes and free local bus service. Traffic is already worse. I think a lot of people assume traffic will improve after the big projects are completed. I suspect that this isn’t what will happen.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      In the mid-80’s I worked with a guy who had recently moved back from LA. He said he left because he hated spending 3 hours a day on his commute.

    3. pst314 Says:

      “At the same time they are attempting to create a bus corridor in the Loop.”

      Bus-only lanes, marked with red concrete.

      I think they want to use gridlock to drive cars out of the Loop, while pretending that their plans will not create congestion.

      Nor do I believe that their fancy Loop bus shelters will increase ridership.

      But this will burn through many more millions of dollars, at a time when Chicago already faces a frightening budget crisis.

    4. Jim Miller Says:

      For what it is worth, something similar has been happening in the Seattle area for years. (The last time we elected a Republican governor was 1980.)

      And, yes, I do think that the planners are deliberately trying to drive people out of cars and into mass transit, preferably light rail.

      Example: When our Department of Transportation decided it was time to replace, or fix, the Alaskan Way (an older elevated highway along Seattle’s waterfront), they decided to replace it with a very expensive tunnel — which will have the same capacity as the old highway. (However, it will be a big plus for some property owners, since the Alaskan Way was noisy and blocked views.)

      Incidentally, a few times I have heard leftist callers tell talk show hosts that more area congestion was a good way to force people onto buses and trains.

      By the way, those not familiar with Seattle’s geography should take a quick look at a map to see just how hard it is to both pack many people down town, or near it, and reduce congestion.

      (For the record: Since I am retired, I have been able to avoid almost all these traffic problems.)

    5. Jonathan Says:

      I think they want to use gridlock to drive cars out of the Loop, while pretending that their plans will not create congestion.

      The conventional wisdom among urban planners is to reduce traffic, not by making alternatives to cars more attractive, but by making car use so unpleasant that people come to prefer the mass-transit alternatives favored by planners. This never works but it provides a window on the thoughts and values of many of the people who go to work for planning bureaucracies. They tend to seek to limit the options available to individuals, as a way to encourage people to prefer the choices favored by planners, rather than seeking to increase options so that individuals can maximize their own outcomes.

    6. dearieme Says:

      A detail: “cars are in the intersection after the light changes”. In Britain an intersection will often have yellow hatching, which means that you are not to enter unless your exit is clear. It works tolerably well in law-abiding places.

      “I think they want to use gridlock to drive cars out”: yes, we get that too, sometimes explicitly. We also get your method i.e. fiddling about with bus and cycle lanes. We also also get the building of large new residential areas without any corresponding increase in road capacity. Do you get another thing we get: building new residential areas that are, by design, deficient in car parking spaces, on the fantastical grounds that “residents won’t need cars: they’ll all cycle”?

    7. Grurray Says:

      The combined city and county tax on parking is now 30%, and the tollways just raised their tolls a dollar per car. I’m convinced they’re trying to penalize suburban commuters.

    8. sam Says:

      Hi my name is Sam and I think you have a really cool site. I run The Last Tradition blog http://www.thelasttradition.com/ and I was wondering if you’d be interested in a blog roll exchange? Check me out and if you like what you see I hope you add me to your blog roll. I’ll gladly do likewise.

    9. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Example: When our Department of Transportation decided it was time to replace, or fix, the Alaskan Way (an older elevated highway along Seattle’s waterfront), they decided to replace it with a very expensive tunnel — which will have the same capacity as the old highway. (However, it will be a big plus for some property owners, since the Alaskan Way was noisy and blocked views.)

      That highway is not going to survive a large earthquake. The land under it is going to liquify* and the roadway is going to find itself without support, then collapse.

      Liquefaction* – when sediments that are saturated with water are shaken they behave exactly like a thick (viscous) liquid. When the shaking ceases, the internal friction of the sediments dominates, the particles lock back against each other, and the soil reconsolidates.
      Quick video demo: https://youtu.be/b_aIm5oi5eA

      Here’s a 20-minute video on earthquake research in the Pacific Northwest. Towards the end of the video they discuss the Alaska Highway specifically and an earthquake simulation is shown depicting the ground under the Alaska Highway liquefying.
      https://youtu.be/YhGXYKvF-Jk
      This link will take you directly to the discussion on the highway: https://youtu.be/YhGXYKvF-Jk?t=15m14s

      I have to assume the tunnel is considered safer overall.

    10. Mike K Says:

      ” building new residential areas that are, by design, deficient in car parking spaces”

      This is a serious problem for planning commissions. In Orange County we have been able to hold much of the Los Angeles lunacy at bay with “The Orange Curtain,” which is mostly high real estate prices,. There are enormous rental projects going up all over Orange County now and it is probably already overbuilt but the older projects that I had to deal with here were usually built to a code that required something like one parking space for every 600 square feet or so. I forget the number but it resulted in the usual two bedroom apartment (flat to you Dearieme) having two spaces. The local complexes would have four cars per apartment. Two parents and two teen aged children or four college students sharing a two bedroom unit. This resulted in hundreds of cars parked on side streets and angry appearances by local homeowners who could not park in front of their own homes or have dinner guests. The response was usually to make parking require a sticker. This would move the excess parked cars a block or two until those residents complained. Most of Orange County is single family homes, which of course are hated by Democrats.

      Now we have new developments to concern us.

      “The result was that higher density and lower parking ratios combined to improve the affordability of residential units.

      New regulations for “affordable housing” which is being forced on the suburbs. Britain has horrendous parking issues because the cities are all pre-auto layout. Chicago is much the same. The area where my sister lives, like the area where I grew up, has nice layouts of streets and alleys but crime is making those areas uninhabitable. It’s tolerable so far for her but I would not tolerate the crime level they have now in Beverly.

    11. Jim Miller Says:

      Michael Hiteshaw – My point is that they did not add capacity when they designed the replacement for the Alaskan Way. The replacement will have four lanes, just like the original; increasing that to, say, six lanes would not have increased the cost by 50 percent.

      As for the rest, of course, living in this area, I know about the earthquake problem; that’s why they decided to replace the highway (and the 520 bridge). However, the engineers said they could retrofit the old highway to make it safer, which would have been much less expensive.

      Safe enough to resist a 300-year earthquake? Probably not, but you’d have to ask a bunch of highway engineers for their guesses on that.

      On the other hand, it isn’t clear to me that making a highway proof aginst such rare earthquakes is the best way to spend money on earthquake protection. For example, it’s well known that an older area of Seattle, around Pioneer Square, would be a death trap during any serious earthquaake. since it has so many old brick buildings.

    12. Jim Miller Says:

      Going back to the topic: One thing that fascinates me about public opinion in the Seattle metro area is that voters have ben willing to spend considerable sums of tax money for mass transit, even though they don’t plan to use it themselves.

      Apparently, many voters are convinced that other people will use that mass transit.

    13. alanstorm Says:

      “I remember when I first joined companies I assumed that the executives in charge knew what they were doing and wouldn’t do something ridiculously stupid. After a while I came to learn that this wasn’t the case.”

      That’s what I miss about childhood. The feeling that the grown-ups knew what was going on.

      I’ve been one myself for a while now, and sadly, there are just as many dimwits around now as when I was a kid.

      Worse, they all seem to be in government.

    14. Mike K Says:

      “Worse, they all seem to be in government.”

      No, some are running hospitals.

    15. wkg_in_bham Says:

      The Urban Planner types are quite up-front about their disdain of automobiles/admiration of transit. I won’t go full rant on that particular topic. There are a few things they never seem to mention. Here are some.

      One: congestion results in increasing the cost of everything. How much of the tangible stuff of life are created within the high density area downtown? Basically none. It all has to be trucked in. Well when is a good time to deliver? Oh – I don’t know, but two in morning is probably OK. Any chance of getting a 18 wheeler in there? – Are you kidding! I don’t think this applies to Chicago – tolls on access roads- but it certainly does to NYC.

      Two: Many like Carl from Chicago, just give up and walk. So life compresses into the geography that is conveniently walked to – which for most people would be about half-a-mile (10 minutes) in any direction; or a circle of one mile diameter. This works out to an area of about 0.8 square miles. Hope it’s a really good 0.8 square mile.

      Three: The practical irritations that all of this results in. For example a trip to the neighborhood “super market”. Purchase (of overpriced stuff and limited selection) constrained to what can be held in one or two bags.

      Four: Almost pointless to own a car when parking, city taxes, etc. considered. Well, the Urban Planner would say “look at all the money you’re saving.” Well that statement ignores the cost of rental cars, delivery charges for anything bigger than a bread-box, events/activities that are off-the-table, etc.?

      Note:
      Remember the phrases “rapid transit” (except it is very un-rapid) or “mass transit” (except it is very much un-mass like); so it has become merely “transit”.

    16. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      One additional note on this topic. In the 80’s Baltimore/MD/Feds spent an enormous amount of money building a subway and light rail. The first spur, from the center of Baltimore out to the nice suburb of Owings Mills Town Center, was a warning. Thugs from Baltimore, mostly black, began riding the line out and mugging, raping and killing people. A similar thing happened when they ran light rail out to the equally nice suburb of Hunt Valley. After that, no other suburb would take part. If people in those areas had any sense they would get those lines closed.

    17. Mike K Says:

      “a trip to the neighborhood “super market”.

      When I was a kid, my mother would stop at the local market (They weren’t very “super” in those days) and do her shopping then have the market deliver the groceries. I knew some high school boys who made a decent amount doing those deliveries. The downside of that model was shown in the movie “Death Wish.” The low trust society does not do home delivery well.

      I don’t live in one of those high rise congested areas so I don’t know what it is like but I suspect that residents live with a higher level of anxiety and fear than I do in my suburb.

    18. Mike K Says:

      “If people in those areas had any sense they would get those lines closed.”

      The Obama administration has somewhat similar ideas about Section 8 housing in suburbs.

      The NY Times, of course, is all in favor.

      Demand for subsidized suburban housing, meanwhile, is outstripping supply. In Salinas, Calif., applicants circled an entire block around a housing authority office earlier this month. Mobile, Ala., has 3,400 Section 8 families, and 2,000 more awaiting homes.

      Sociologists have long claimed that leaving behind high-crime, low-employment neighborhoods for the middle-class suburbs buoys the fortunes of impoverished tenants. An article in the July/August edition of The Atlantic Monthly, however, cited findings by researchers at the University of Memphis that crime in Memphis appeared to migrate with voucher recipients. More broadly, a 2006 Georgia Institute of Technology study found that every time a neighborhood experienced three foreclosures per 100 owner-occupied properties in a year, violent crime increased by approximately 7 percent.

      But it’s OK because of equality.