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stanfrdguy

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  1. The San Francisco Bay Area has had metered on ramps on virtually all freeways from Marin to San Jose and points south. Bay Area traffic is easily as congested as Houston traffic and with a population density over 3 x that of Houston (quite a bit more, actually) the need for mitigation of congestion is even more imperative than in Houston. I think Bay Area drivers are also mentally more apt to try ideas that have been proven effective in traffic flow lab trials. After reading the above comments, it appears that Houston drivers, when faced with a metered ramp, completely ignore the lights in at least 70% of the cases because they don't see them as effective. The fact that drivers don't see them as effective is painfully predictable because they are, in effect, rendering the metered lights non-functional. In an environment where they are respected by drivers, the metered on ramps are very effective at evening out the traffic flow. The lights vary in length depending on the volume of cars on the freeway. The long ramps hold traffic back until the freeway has the capacity to allow new entering cars to merge into the flowing, albeit slow, traffic. Drivers who see the lines when they are long by pass the ramp entry and utilize alternative streets rather than the freeway. This helps offload some traffic that would be trapped in the mob trying to force their way into completely stalled traffic. This whole scenario creates a calming effect of drivers as the path to forward travel is controlled and constant. It reduces instances of road rage as well as accidents, thus also facilitating traffic flow at a more uniform speed. In order to get drivers to understand the value and importance of this process the fine for running the red lights is $275 for the first offense and jumps to higher levels a second or third offense. This is the same fee level that exists for solo drivers who switch into the Diamond or carpool lanes. Bay Area drivers have embraced this practice and aggressively honk, flash lights and point out to motorcycle Highway Patrol offenders who have cheated. Freeways in the Bay Area have a significant number of traffic cops there for enforcement which, along with law abiding drivers pointing out cheaters coupled with high fines makes the metered on ramps a successful tool in fighting traffic congestion. I moved from Houston to the west coast for graduate school 30 years ago and stayed there until two years ago, at which time I happily returned to Texas for retirement. There were many things in California that I was happy to leave there, but Houston needs all the help in can get with it's congested roadways, and from my experience, implemented as described above, metered on-ramps could be very helpful here. But current practice makes them a waste of money.
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