Bay Area Reluctantly Warms Up to On-Ramp Metering

<p>With increasing congestion and freeways built out just about as far as they can go, transportation planners in the San Francisco Bay Area are considering plans to put on-ramp metering lights on many of the area's most congested stretches of freeway.</p>
March 6, 2008, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"In an age when building or widening freeways isn't possible or is prohibitively expensive, ramp metering lights are increasingly seen as the path to relieving traffic congestion."

"That's especially true on the Bay Area's most-congested stretch of freeway, Interstate 80 from Hercules to the Bay Bridge Toll Plaza. Traffic engineers are planning to make the on-again, off-again traffic signals the linchpin of an $88 million plan to squeeze the maximum efficiency out of the interstate, which can't be widened without destroying the swath of civilization built up against its noise barriers."

"But even 45 years after the first ramp metering was tested by police officers waving traffic onto Chicago's Eisenhower Expressway, some Bay Area officials are still skittish about impeding freeway access."

"'It's been kind of an uphill struggle in the Bay Area,' said Albert Yee, director of Highway and Arterial Operations for the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. While the commission is attempting to promote and finance a $600 million area-wide system favoring more metering lights to help move traffic more efficiently, some officials in Contra Costa have resisted the effort."

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Published on Monday, March 3, 2008 in The Contra Costa Times
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