I was on my way to Atlanta on Interstate 85 south recently when the accident was reported on the radio. Traffic was backing up and the lanes filled with traffic as my short trip began to look like an all-day affair.
Taking a look around at my situation, I noted that there were five lanes of traffic, except one was a hot lane. The last time I was in this situation, it was called an HOV lane. Back then, when it became obvious that traffic was at a standstill, the announcement would come on the radio that the HOV lane was now open to all vehicles regardless of the number of passengers. Four lanes quickly became five. If I am doing the math correctly, that is a 25 percent increase in capacity.
Now, the toll was going up in price, and the traffic was exiting the lane so drivers would not be paying the $7 for a trip for a few miles. Interesting, I thought. This time, a traffic jam results in the traffic leaving the fifth lane and crowding into the four remaining. The more the traffic becomes tied up, the more folks pull out of the hot lanes.
Doesn’t this seem backward? After all, the rise in tolls was making the traffic jam worse.
As I sat there, I remembered that these lanes have been called a success, and they were going to be installed on all the freeways throughout Atlanta. I hope not!