28 Sep

Meter purposes

If you drive on the freeways in Minnesota, you've seen them.

Ramp Meter signals on the acceleration ramps.


I'm not totally against them, but some things really annoy me about them:

1. They're so far down the acceleration lane that you have no chance of accelerating up to speed with the rest of the traffic already on the freeway, defeating the purpose of the lights (which is to limit impeding the flow of traffic)

2. They only function during the morning and afternoon rush hours. In off-peak hours, they blink yellow. Why not conserve energy and turn them off?

The next point is the real reason for the Gripe...

3. At 7:45am... near the peak of the rush hour, the ramp meter at 77th and 169 (doesn't receive a huge amount of traffic) was cycling extremely quickly. Ok, what do I mean by this...

For those not in the know, the meters operate just like a traffic light. It turns green, waits 1 second and then cycles to yellow and then immediately red (hence the 1 car per green sign). The path of going from green to yellow to red is called a cycle. Typically, there are lights on both sides of the acceleration ramp, where cars are supposed to make two lines -- one on the left and one on the right. When the light on one side cycles, the light on the other side has its turn to cycle. Usually there's a pause of anywhere from a few seconds to close to 15 seconds, depending on the location in the Twin Cities. This helps restrict the amount of cars entering the freeway at one time, which otherwise, would slow traffic.

So back to the story. The lights at this location cycle quickly. Once the light on one side cycles, the other side immediately cycles with no waiting time in-between. This is always the case with the lights at this location.

WHAT'S THE POINT OF EVEN HAVING THEM ON THEN? They're not even doing anything. THERE'S NOT EVEN ENOUGH TRAFFIC ENTERING THE FREEWAY AT THIS LOCATION. And even if there was, how would they be able to keep up with the unbelievable cycle speed? That's right, they couldn't.

Even with traffic at a standstill (on the freeway), these lights still function that way. Take them out! They are a true waste of energy. If you're not going to control them properly, do yourselves and mother nature a favor. They cause more confusion than anything. I watched as some dufus, getting closer to the lights, actually moved over to the other side to time the green. EVEN MORE REASON TO TURN THEM OFF (hell, just have them blink yellow)... you're going to be driving thru a red light anyway, and now you're causing that dufus to slow down unnecessarily. There were no cars there to begin with, so there would have been no impact to the flow of traffic anyway.

Come on MN-DOT.. sheesh

Categories: Gripe