Saturday, July 16, 2011

Where is the Traffic Jam -- Carmageddon

Who would think that a potential traffic jam, which is being called Carmageddon, would be getting so much attention nationally?

Since I teach transportation & logistics, among other subjects, traffic fascinates me (as it does my students).

Carmageddon was to take place (and still might over the weekend) in Los Angeles, where a ten mile stretch of Route 405, which carries about 500,000 vehicles a day is closed to traffic for a 53 hour stretch, beginning last night at midnight. The reason for the closure is a road improvement project, which includes the demolition of a bridge. This event, which has begun smoothly, is being covered even by The New York Times, in an article written by Adam Nagourney (can't help but like the name) and Ian Lovett. I have been following what has been happening on the Los Angeles Times website.

Clearly, the government provided sufficient warnings (over three months) about this closure and construction. Moreover, since it is taking place over the weekend, people have more flexibility and many can elect not to travel (in transportation, we would say that this is an elastic demand problem, as opposed to a fixed demand problem).

I am curious to see what will happen tonight when there are many events in LA as well as early Monday morning, if the project does not get completed, and when people have to go to work.

An update to this story on Monday -- the work got finished a day ahead of time -- thanks to the public listening and all the warnings and good planning; see this article.

Who can forget the biggest traffic jam ever that took place last year, outside of Beijing, on the Beijing-Tibet "Expressway." That was a 60 mile, 9 day traffic jam -- just imagine having this experience!

One group of my terrific students last Fall, who have since graduated, did a project on that traffic jam, possible reasons for it happening, and possible solutions for the future.

You can access the slides of their presentation here.