Daily News Shocker: Wider 118 Leads to More Speeders

5_1_09_118.jpgEastbound traffic on the widened 118 Freeway in Simi Valley.  Image via Daily News

Earlier this week, Sue Doyle with the Daily News reported that with the expansion of the 188 Freeway, aka the Ronald Reagen Freeway, there has been an unexpected consequence.  Apparently, the wider highway has led to a pandemic of speeding:

"They’re going way too fast," said Capt. Cliff
Williams, who works out of the CHP office in Moorpark. "There’s the
potential for not just one accident, but a very serious one."

Since construction ended March 17 on the eastbound lanes,
authorities have issued 173 citations for speeding in the area, said
Randy Pickens, CHP administrative officer. By comparison, officers
averaged just 60 citations in March2007 and March 2008, Pickens said.

Over the past six weeks, motorists have routinely hit
speeds of 95 mph, said Steve Marchant, a CHP officer who has patrolled
the area for four years. Last Thursday, officers cited a motorist for
driving 101 mph. 

Just a reminder that a couple of weeks ago the LADOT and City Council were telling us that the way to decrease speeds on Valley surface streets was to raise the speed limits so the LAPD can try enforcing the speed limit with radar.  While that argument made sense to just about nobody, this new information presents a different picture.  If increasing road capacity causes people to drive faster maybe decreasing capacity in the form of traffic calming, narrower travel lanes or a road diet might have the effect of slowing car traffic down.

In related news, Paul Krekorian’s legislation to change the way new speed limits are set on surface streets has been moved to May 11.  Keep checking back here for more updates on the Krekorian.

  • Brent

    Are there any studies showing that improving road capacity reduces congestion? My own anecdotal evidence would indicate that the lanes added to the 405 through West L.A. haven’t helped at all. I’m really not sure that spending $1 billion to widen it through the Sepulveda pass will do much, either.

    I’ve heard about one study that explored the road improvement paradox: better roads don’t reduce commute times, but instead encourage longer drives. The study would seem to recommend that making roads *worse* — making them narrower, taking away lanes, etc. — would achieve many urban goals more effectively.

  • Shemp

    You can tell from the photo they really needed that additional lane!

  • LAofAnaheim

    Brent – you wouldn’t need that study when every single freeway lane addition in the whole world has NEVER seen traffic reduction with lane addition.

  • Spokker

    I thought this study was interesting. It’s called, “Relationships Between Safety and Both Congestion and Number of Lanes on Urban Freeways.”

    “Practitioners generally believe that additional capacity afforded by additional lanes is associated with more safety. How much safety and for what time period are generally not considered. Comparison of SPFs of multilane freeways suggests that adding lanes may initially result in a temporary safety improvement that disappears as congestion increases. As annual average daily traffic increases, the slope of SPF, described by its first derivative, becomes steeper, reflecting that accidents are increasing at a faster rate than would be expected from a freeway with fewer lanes.”

    Yikes. I put in a request for the full document so I can take a look at it and see if there are any juicy bits to use against freeways :)

    SPF stands for safety performance function, by the way. The study was conducted in Colorado, California and Texas.


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