Variable speed limits offer new solutions to commuter crunch


Sick and tired of sitting in traffic during your commute? More metro areas have enacted or are considering variable speed limits on their highways that might save your life and will definitely save you time.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  reports I-285, which encircles Atlanta, may be going to variable speed limits. The current limit of 55 miles per hour could be raised to 65 mph, conditions permitting. On the other hand, when traffic is heavy, that speed could be drastically lowered. (The speed limits would be conveyed to drivers by electronic signs.)

USA Today, meanwhile, profiled similar efforts in Minneapolis and Seattle a couple of years ago.

Minneapolis has created a model where state government, local government and private business all worked together to create rapid transit lanes for bus commuters. That’s resulted in a huge reduction in commute time for both bus riders and car riders alike. Best of all, no additional infrastructure was necessary; they just took the shoulder and turned it into a rapid transit lane.

Seattle, meanwhile, has increased traffic flow by using the European system where there’s a varying speed limit on every lane of a highway. Electronic signs broadcast the speed limits, which can be slowed in a lane if they know there’s congestion up ahead. That kind of speed moderation eliminates many rear-end crashes before they happen.

All of these solutions just go to show that we don’t necessarily have to pave our way out of traffic. We just have to use our brains instead.

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