01 September 2008

Theme of the overnight: Bitching about contraflow.

Yes, there's still power and Internet here, and I can't sleep, so I've been listening to WWL all night.

The most common theme I've heard is of traffic slowing to a literal crawl at various points along I-59 in Mississippi, and there's a few culprits.

1. There just aren't enough places for traffic to bleed off of the Interstate when Contraflow is active.
2. Mississippi evacuated their coast. Can't blame them for that.
3. This will take more than one sentence: the design of the I-20/I-59 merge in Meridian.

Specifically, it's a dangerous configuration, and woefully inadequate to handle Contraflow-induced traffic. I-59 northbound merging with I-20 eastbound seems innocent enough, as two lanes from I-59 make that junction. Before the end of the ramp, though, I-59's onramp contracts to ONE lane. This means that four lanes contract to two when Contraflow ends, then has to further contract to one before reaching merged I-20/59 east out of Meridian.

No wonder people get past Laurel and find a parking lot signed with Interstate shields!

People will be looking to point the finger big time about this. Heads will roll, and jobs will be lost.

My solution is actually extremely simple.

1. At the two or three mile mark to the merge, expand I-59 north to three lanes. Clearly sign the left lane as exit only to westbound I-20 assuming the current interchange design is kept. Sign the two right lanes as "through" to I-20/59 northeast.
2. At the lane split, keep two lanes for I-59 to I-20/59 traffic throughout the entire ramp. This will cause there to be four lanes on the merged section for a short stretch.
3. I-20/59 northeast sheds one lane, as it currently does, but contracts to three lanes instead of two. Make the rightmost lane auxiliary for the next exit, and provide LOTS of warning signage between the merge and US 11/MS 19, which appears to be the next exit after the I-20/59 merge.

If this isn't done, then to LaDoTD and the Mississippi DOT I say this: Don't bother listing I-59 north as an evacuation route, because people won't go!

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