Wednesday, July 5, 2006

Higher Highway Speeds? what about road design?

CJOB reports that Gary Doer favours higher speed limits on Manitoba highways in this article titled "Doer Favours Higher Highway Speeds"


As much as you know that I enjoy driving on the highways, and that yes, on occasion I even let the pedal go down a little farther than I should, I would like to propose something other than faster speed limits on the highway.


Lets take a trip from Brandon to Kenora as an example.   Driving at 110km/h for one hour instead of 100Km/h saves you 6 minutes.  However, having to slow down for a single red light on the highway robs you of half of that due to deceleration, stationary time and acceleration time again.


So, it's pretty easy to see that it’s all about average speed not top speed.  Rather than increasing speed limits on the highways, why don't we look at how to design the roadways more efficiently?  For example, Roads that don't warrant an interchange should not be given direct access to the Winnipeg bypass (a.k.a. the Perimeter).  Roads that must have access to the by-pass should be upgraded to having an interchange.  Speaking of the perimeter highway; there is no reason why a driver should EVER have to reduce his/her speed on the bypass, barring weather conditions, obstacles (granny drivers for example) or debris.   The purpose of the road is to guide a driver around the city, and do it quickly.  Dangerous turns (like the ones near Hwy 15) should be removed, the speed should be a constant 100km/h and roads like Pipeline, Sturgeon and Brady should have no direct access to the highway.  Instead Service roads should connect these secondary routes to the primary route which then uses the interchange to route traffic onto the perimeter.   Roads like St. Mary’s and St. Anne’s need an interchange, and for heaven’s sake, Fix the partial interchange at #59 North!


I know that for most the drive out West begins and ends in the ‘Peg, and these suggested modifications have next to zero impact on your holiday drives.  But the principal remains the same.  There’s similar things in other area.  Elie, Brandon, for example both have traffic lights, both see enough traffic to warrant an interchange.


Aside from fuel savings, it’s a safety issue also.  Slowing a vehicle from 100KM to zero has an inherent risk that is gone if you maintain speed.  I don’t know how many people smack into each other each year on some of these roads, but I have seen a few nasties on Pipeline and the Perimeter.  I wonder…  At what time does the province pay more on insurance claim payouts than just forking out the cash to build a proper road way?


Once the roads are safer… lets boost the speed limit…  Well that’s how I see it anyway…

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