LETTER TO THE EDITOR
This letter appeared in the Advocate (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) on 26 November 2004.
This item may be cited as M. R. Franks, Letter to the Editor: Don't widen streets; time lights better, Baton Rouge Advocate, November 26, 2004, at 10B.
Copyright © 2004, M. R. Franks
If Mayor-President-elect Melvin "Kip" Holden wants funding for Police Department and Fire Department pay raises, he need look no further than Comite Drive. All that's needed is a referendum to downscale the extravagant $17.55 million project to about $3 million-enough to cover culverts and install guard rails. The balance, $14.55 million, can be used to fund pay raises.
It's time to stop widening streets. The greatest challenge facing Mayor-President-elect Holden is traffic. Through ineffective signal timing, vehicles are kept on our roads, engines running, for up to twice as long as would otherwise be necessary to complete a journey, doubling the number of cars on the road at any given time, increasing congestion and gridlock and pouring tons of pollutants into our air.
It's odd that rush hour congestion seems worse in Baton Rouge than in New Orleans at 2.2 times our population, Houston at 8.4 or Chicago at 13.2 times our population. But then those cities don't run their traffic lights on three-minute cycles. As I said, nearly ten years ago in my July 19, 1995, letter to The Advocate, Chicago uses a 65-second light cycle-usually forty seconds of green for the major thoroughfare, followed by 25 seconds of green for the cross street. According to the Chicago Traffic Engineer's Office, the longest light in that entire city goes through its full cycle in 105 seconds. When I told their chief traffic engineer the length of our light cycles, he replied, "Well, in Chicago, we believe in moving traffic."
The best way to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution is not to widen streets but to time our lights efficiently. This requires more than just synchronization. If lights are synchronized at their present snail-paced, three-minute cycles, those synchronizations will be useless to resolve the gridlock that worsened under our outgoing mayor-president and his public works minions.
We urge our new mayor-president to recruit engineering talent from a city that moves its traffic, to stop unnecessary street-widenings, and to downsize the Comite Drive project and refer the matter to the voters as a way to fund police and fire pay raises.
Maurice Franks, president
Comite Drive Property Owners Association
Click here to return to Maurice Franks's Writings
Copyright © 2004 by M. R. Franks - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED