Author Archives: Road Guy Rob

This $100M bridge is made with WOOD and is MOSTLY AIR inside!

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Foolish to build FACTORIES underneath FREEWAYS? (It’s legal in California)

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Los Angeles THREW AWAY all their RED-LIGHT cameras?

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Stop lights can… RUIN a street for bicyclists?

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Can this “HAWK” STOP LIGHT make walking feel SAFE again?

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Why freeway exits and chickens don’t mix!

So, you’re having this really nice walk across town when suddenly, there’s a freeway you have to cross. Seeing a large bridges with nice big sidewalks can be a relief. But what about those pesky interchanges where cars are entering and exiting the freeway? It gets a little bit scarier at newfangled designs which work […]

Would you drive on this flip-flopped freeway interchage?

America loves “diamond” highway exits. Which is too bad, because when life gets busy, they work pretty terribly. Gil Chlewicki, the “adoptive” father of the Diverging Diamond Interchange (DDI), explains why it’s time to untangle our freeway interchanges.

Rebuilding the road? Don’t forget about joggers and bicyclists!

Avid bicyclists roll their eyes as state engineers rebuild a highway through town. Tyranny of the car, right? Here’s a project in Utah which added a raised median that unlocked an avalanche of really cool safety improvements — including a traffic signal just for bikes!

Why does this street BLOCK off Arby’s (but not McDonald’s)?

Raised medians reduce left turns which prevents crashes (and saves lives). But cities only block left turns for some businesses and not others. How can the engineers decide fairly? And what do we do with drivers who still need to turn left? ——————————- Additional reading: ——————————- Federal Highway Administration. Accessed Jun. 9, 2021.

Does a turn lane really deserve its terrible nickname?

Traffic travels in both directions. So it makes sense we’d have a malicious moniker for two-way left turn lanes (TWLTLs). Are they actually dangerous, though? Let’s look at the safety of these middle lanes. After all, they are on roads pretty much everywhere in the United States. ————– Sources cited: ————– Mukherjee, D. Choosing Between […]

Radar can make green lights longer?

The light turns yellow and you find yourself in a panic. Should I slam on my brakes and risk getting rear-ended? Or should I run the yellow— and possibly in the process, the red too? Every stop light on the planet has one of these “A BAD PLACES.” Radar technology can act like a life […]

Are some yellow lights TOO SHORT? (Math to check it!)

Getting a red light ticket feels really crummy. When yellow lights (“change intervals”) are set long enough, red light runners vanish. For safety, why don’t we double or triple the length of yellow lights? Check out pt. 2: Our brains and yellow lights — ——————————- Sources cited: ——————————- “Guidelines for Timing Yellow and All-Red […]

Wait, the train runs INSIDE your house?

If we let more people live ¼-mile from the train, everyone saves money.

America is not affordable because building lots are not affordable. And there is not nearly enough people who ride our billion-dollar light/commuter rail trains. Here’s how these two problems solve one another.

Phoenix without freeways?

In the 1970s, Arizonans resoundingly voted “NO” to completing Interstate 10 through downtown Phoenix. But that’s because I-10 would have been a ten-story tall freeway bridge through the north of downtown. But the “NO” vote canceled all new freeways, including finishing Interstate 10 coast to coast.

How do red lights “see” your car and know to turn green?

How does a traffic signal knows when to turn green? Especially late at night when you are the only driver on the road. In this video, I chat with two traffic signal experts: Mohammed Bendelhoum, an engineer with the California Dept. of Transportation (Caltrans) and Brian Girardo (Iteris) explore the history of vehicle detection (induction […]

A Roundabout, A Princess, and a Rock Pile

Georgia wants to become “The Roundabout State.” You aren’t going to see an official marketing campaign for that. But a decade ago, Georgia’s Department of Transportation issued a new policy. Engineers must now seriously consider a roundabout at every intersection they redesign. This policy is colliding with centuries-old history in the mountains north of Atlanta. […]

Florida is Deadliest for Bicyclists

Data from the National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) shows a bicycle rider is more than twice as likely to be killed by a vehicle than the national average. In 2016, data show the state had the highest percentage (4.3 percent) of auto-involved accidents killing a “pedacyclist” (person riding a bicycle). The national average was about […]

A $100 Billion Plan to Keep the Bay Area Moving

In Northern California, gold rushes are routine. The ’49ers raced across America to pan for gold in Yerba Buena. Silicon Valley generated several of its own gold rushes. The most recent, currently underway, produces a new millionaire every day. The wave of cash fuels job creation, population growth, and crippling traffic [News Release]. A business […]

Are roundabouts REALLY better than a traffic signal?

Traffic signals are not scary. Roundabouts can be, especially if you’ve never driven one before. Let’s take a fun dive into America’s fastest-growing transportation design. Are these spinny circles really better that a traffic light or just a passing fad? Enjoy my video?

Archive: Utah Restarts Stalled Transportation Projects (2009)

When the Great Recession hit in the fall of 2008, elected officials across America pumped the brakes on planned highway projects. This included the state of Utah, which stopped all upcoming contracts. After a new months of financial analysis, the governor of Utah looked at low labor and commodity prices — and decided he’d be […]

Archive: Natural Gas Vehicles Booted from Carpool Lanes (2008)

A decade ago, the state of Utah granted drivers of all compressed natural gas (CNG) vehicles special access to carpool lanes on Interstate 15. The idea was to incentivize drivers to switch to a cleaner-burning fuel and reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil. The program was too successful. Enough CNG drivers joined a growing crowd […]

Archive: TSA brings skiing to airport security (2008)

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has a problem. The seasoned air travelers, with their ID in their left hand, and shoes in their right, would be dancing around families who were — a bit slow. So, the agency tested a new method for the airport screening line, based on ski resorts. Ski resorts divide their […]

Forgiving Roadsides

Abstract — This paper explores the various design elements of off-pavement and on-pavement standards and changes to U.S. and international highway design policies over the latter-half of the 20th century that contributed to a major reduction in automobile fatalities.  It explores the policy, geometry, and expansion of roadside hardware.  It then demonstrates that these changes […]

Bakersfield: The Social Cost of a New Freeway

If you read a few of my posts, it’s no secret that I love new freeways. In one of my recent trips through California’s Central Valley, I was reminded of the non-monetary costs we all pay when there’s new construction. Westside Parkway The smooth new concrete, gentle grade, and baby landscaping plants offer the civil-version […]

Bus Rapid Transit: Proof of Performance

Abrstract — A Look at BRT Viability as an Alternative Solution to the United States Congestion-Relief Funding Crisis The Congestion Funding Challenge In the coming decades, as many as 100 million new people (US Census Bureau, 2014) will immigrate to, be born in, or be blessed with a longer life in United States cities.  Currently over […]

What’s Next: Bangerter Highway

“Since when does a highway have stop lights?” I’ll never forget my buddy Paul complaining to me about Bangerter Highway. He’s from Ohio, where the word “highway” means  “freeway.” But putting aside English-language nuances, he has a good point — and one most Salt Lake County westsiders have complained about for over two-decades: Bangerter should’ve […]

Safety on Provo 500 West

I’m exploring a site along Provo’s 500 West, which a SafetyAnalyst project identifies as one of the most crash-prone stretches of road in the county. SafetyAnalyst allows a transportation researcher to combine data and other analytical tools to identify roadway segments and nodes which are statistically more dangerous than others, controlling for many other factors. […]

Thinking Ahead: CA-210

It looks like Caltrans thought ahead for this 2002 project. That’s the year the state of California extended the 210 freeway from the 57 freeway to I-15 in Rancho Cucamonga, California. The new freeway replaced Highland Avenue, which became a frontage road. As I explored historic aerial photography on Google Earth, I discovered that Caltrans […]

Time Machine: Teenage Engineering

In retrospect, I wish I’d put more time into getting a girlfriend.  Oh well. Over fifteen years ago, I was in junior high school.  Being borderline-A.D.D. and super stoked to get a driver license, I began drawing “cities.” I put the word “city” in scare quotes, because I really drew freeway interchanges and complicated intersections. […]

Mountain View Corridor: Another Vanishing Neighborhood

A new freeway is slowly appearing on Salt Lake County, Utah’s west side.  The Mountain View Corridor, SR-85, will parallel Interstate 15 from roughly Salt Lake International Airport south to Saratoga Springs, and possibly one day, west of Utah Lake to Payson. It’s one of the few large-scale, non-tolled urban freeway projects going on in […]

Thoughts on Cost-Effectiveness

California has America’s least-cost-effective freeways, short of Rhode Island, Hawaii, and Alaska. Well, that’s if you agree with the study-producing think tank’s philosophy of “Advancing a free society by developing, applying, and promoting libertarian principles, including individual liberty, free markets, and the rule of law.” Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of cost-effectiveness. But […]

Mountain View Corridor: More Demolition

This is probably the first time since the 1960s that Salt Lake County, Utah has seen serious demolition for a transportation project. In another post, I show some photos of a vanishing neighborhood between 4100 South and 3500 South in West Valley City.  Here are some pictures of a neighborhood just south of 4100, along Timber […]

New: Galena Park Bridge

There’s a series projects which demonstrate some good long-term thinking in Draper, Utah. When UTA built its Frontrunner commuter rail line, it built this overpass even though there isn’t a road for yards around (I’d say miles, but there are many roads within a mile).  Good thing, too, since it’s a looooooong drive around (red).  In […]

Safety: House and Car

North of Brigham Young University’s campus boundary sits a house at a T-intersection. Well, I should say “sat” a house.  Because a young adult with a medical issue (I suspect suicidal depression, but we’ll never know) plowed an early-90s Suburban into it.  And from the looks of it, the Suburban won: The force from the crash was […]

Mountain View Corridor: Bills Drive

It appears the first major demolition has begun for the future Mountain View Corridor freeway (SR-85). I just drove down Bills Drive a few weeks ago and there was a tree-lined street of landscaped, established 1970s-80s tract homes.  Everyone is gone now.  The photo doesn’t do justice of just how eerie this street feels now, […]

Airport: Digital Arrival Board

Props to Salt Lake International Airport for deploying this traffic-saving tool. I drove to pick up a friend whose flight was delayed.  Normally, I’d probably just be circling the airport’s ring road waiting for his text telling me to come pick him up curbside. To save on vehicle emissions and reduce traffic and appease customer frustration […]

Safety: Triple Right Turn?

I had to get on the phone with UDOT right away when I saw this. Crews added two new “right-turn only” arrows.  But why?  That sounds really unsafe.  The intersection does back up a lot during rush hour, but I think painting a protective “free right” stripe would’ve been a better option.  What’s UDOT (or […]