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IronTiger

Metered ramps in Houston

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I made this topic in regards to the few metered ramps in Houston and if they actually help or hurt traffic situations. For those who don't know what it is and don't care to read a Wikipedia article, a metered ramp is basically a stoplight at a highway on-ramp, and won't let more than one car on at a time. There are a few still at Gulf Freeway and Beltway 8 I've seen in operation during rush hour, and the light cycles are extremely short, as the green light only lets one at a time. To me, this is stupid as that means you have to go from a dead stop to highway speeds (even in slower moving traffic) in a matter of seconds, but I've never used one so I wouldn't know. Many seem to have disappeared over the years.

Places where I've still seen 'em:

- A few exist around I-45N and 610

- Aforementioned Beltway 8 and I-45S

- US-59 and Chimney Rock

Places where they are no longer:

- West Road and US-290

- Near the US-290 HOV at Northwest Mall (evidenced by a stop line near an entrance, though even by 2007, the system was long gone)

 

I have a feeling that there were more that have since disappeared, and I don't know if there was a time when Houston was adding them to find that they didn't work with traffic.

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The theory behind the metering lights is that they help keep traffic moving by removing the stopping point for entering traffic to some place on the ramp rather than in the traffic lane, and encouraging people to get up to traffic speeds in a matter of seconds by pressing the tall pedal on the right.

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This was tried back in the 80's. It didn't work then, and the lights were either removed or left there to rot away. About 10 years ago, the lights began to pop up again on certain on ramps. Now that freeway lanes like those on the North Freeway have been reconfigured and restriped, giving entering traffic their own dedicated entry lane, these metered lights will become obsolete. All they have ever accomplished was to back traffic onto the service road. Thankfully I learned how to drive correctly, and as a result, know that it's my responsibility to yield the far right lane to those drivers who are already on the freeway. If only all Houstonians knew how to correctly merge into the flow of freeway traffic these "dummy lights" wouldn't be necessary. That's why they are there, IronTiger, for the dummies that don't know the merging laws of the road.

They might as well just ditch all of them. Very few people have ever paid much attention to them anyway, and I've lost count of how many I've seen drivers that actually DID stop for the thing, getting rear ended for their trouble. Just say another one last week at the 45 SB entrance right before West Road.

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I'm not a fan of these metered lights but I do have a few observations. I haven't read up on implementation so this is based off what I have seen on my daily reverse commute up the Gulf. They have these metered ramps at several places, Broadway, Monroe, Airport (northbound) to name a few. Each of these entrances come directly after an exit with no light in between. In other words, to avoid traffic on the freeway you can exit Broadway and get back on without hitting a light. From what I have noticed, they metered ramp light is only active when the freeway is close to a standstill. Even if its flowing at 30mph with heavy traffic, these lights are not active. So there is never a need to punch the gas to get to highway speeds, since they are only active when the speeds on the mainlanes are very low. I don't think these hurt in any way on the Gulf, given how rarely they are active. The goal seems to be for people in the right lane of the main lanes to allow people entering from the feeder to come in one at a time. And what they do is keep people like me from getting on the feeder just to try to pass people on the main lanes, and reduce the amount of cars merging in to heavy traffic (i won't exit if i see the warning light blinking in the distance because i know it will take longer to get back on).

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They were a bit annoying, but at the time the metered ramps were installed I remember reading that they were a cheap and relatively effective way to reduce freeway congesting by keeping more cars on the feeders.  I thought the metered ramps were retired in cases where longer or braided ramps were installed, like along 59.

 

 

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There are metered ramps on both the northbound and southbound lanes of 45 after the signal at Cavalcade. A lot of people do ignore them, but on several recent occasions I've seen a motorcycle cop monitoring the ramps from an unobtrusive spot some distance back and ticketing drivers who don't obey the signals. 

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they timed them wrong.

they should be continuously green. when the sensor picks up that a car begins crossing through the green light. it turns yellow > red > green, and stays green till the next car begins crossing through the plane.

they could make the reds a bit longer.

but, I see what they do, and I don't disagree that they help *marginally*. so rather than having every car inching up the onramp to merge with traffic at the same time, you only allow 5-6 cars to be at the merge point, people are more prone to 'zipper' into the traffic on the freeway if they feel there is more room available.

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On 4/4/2016 at 6:27 PM, mkultra25 said:

There are metered ramps on both the northbound and southbound lanes of 45 after the signal at Cavalcade. A lot of people do ignore them, but on several recent occasions I've seen a motorcycle cop monitoring the ramps from an unobtrusive spot some distance back and ticketing drivers who don't obey the signals. 

I find the ramp meter at 45 North at Scott to be helpful when it is on during rush hour to merge onto the Interstate.  When traffic is especially bad due to an accident on the interstate it will back up traffic into the intersection.  More or less, people do not seem to ignore it when it is on.

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I've seen a few in operation as of 2016 (South Loop, Gulf Freeway) and even this year (I believe) on the North Loop, however, I've never actually seen one in operation when I get on Loop 610 (never stopping at the ramp). Are they based on time or traffic conditions, because I'm curious to experience one.

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I see it in operation on the Scott St entrance to 45 all the time, but people just ignore it

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There's one of 45 North, Southbound on the on ramp after the Little York/Veteran's Memorial exit. I usually ignore it when I use that ramp.

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OK, from driving around a bit today the southbound I-45 ramps (between 610 and Beltway 8) start a bit after 5 pm (if I had spent a bit more time at Walgreens I might have used it). The lights there seem to be based on the time of day and not traffic conditions.

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Can you actually get a ticket for "running a red light" on these? Many people seem to ignore them (myself included often), but I've never seen anyone get pulled over for it.

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14 minutes ago, asubrt said:

Can you actually get a ticket for "running a red light" on these? Many people seem to ignore them (myself included often), but I've never seen anyone get pulled over for it.

 

See my post earlier in this thread. I haven't seen cops ticketing people frequently for ignoring the lights, but I've seen it happen on occasion. 

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16 minutes ago, mkultra25 said:

 

See my post earlier in this thread. I haven't seen cops ticketing people frequently for ignoring the lights, but I've seen it happen on occasion. 

 

Ah I see, thank you. Tried to skim the previous posts to make sure that hadn't already been answered but I guess I wasn't thorough enough 

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