Ramp Metering: I-95’s Newest Traffic Management Strategy

The latest phase of the multimillion dollar attempts to mitigate congestion along I-95 goes into effect this week in the form of a ramp metering system.  Needless to say, I am curious to see the result: Will drivers obey the lights, knowing full well that the local FHP is understaffed and underfunded?  Will demand outpace supply and will cars back up into local roadways and intersections?  Will we experience a decrease in VMT (vehicle miles traveled) and see a worthy reduction in congestion?  Only time will tell…

Ramp metering is a form of restricting access to roadway.  Signals located at the entrances to freeways dictate when cars can proceed.  The timing for these signals, in a well designed ramp metering system, is based wholly on the existing congestion of the roadway.  Ramp Metering seeks to mitigate the “turbulence” caused by vehicles entering highways – a significant cause of congestion as motorists accelerate and merge with existing traffic.  Ramp meters regulate this access, creating a steady flow of vehicles rather than the platoons caused by signals leading into the current highway entrances – helping to avoid the dangerous shockwave phenomenon we discussed nearly a year ago.

While I generally speak favorably of ramp metering – I have a few concerns I feel the DOT should address.  Foremost, it seems a bit counterintuitive to me to implement a congestion pricing (HOT Lane) program simultaneously with a ramp metering system that does not allow motorists to buy themselves out of the on-ramp wait time to begin with.  The way I see it, if a motorist is willing to pay $X to drive in the HOT lanes to get from A to B faster, why would he want to wait to access the highway to begin with?  For the whole scheme to work seamlessly, a second access lane should be provided to allow motorists to buy instant access to the highway.  Call it Ramp Pricing.

Image Source: The Miami Herald
Image Source: The Miami Herald

Secondly, the current ramp meter placement, similar to the HOT lanes, punishes drivers in Miami-Dade (see above) while giving Broward drivers (suburban drivers who presumably have higher VMT) unfettered access to the whole system.  At final build out, it seems theoretical that a driver from western Broward (who is willing to pay the congestion pricing fees, of course) could flow across I-595 and into I-95, guaranteed 55mph service the whole way (once the I-595 congestion pricing comes online as well).  This is an obvious concern: we are in a sense providing easiest access to our urban areas to those who live the furthest away…

To read more on Ramp Metering, click here.

7 Responses to “Ramp Metering: I-95’s Newest Traffic Management Strategy”

  1. 1 Rick

    Regarding your first concern: Motorists subject to ramp metering can’t access the HOT lanes anyway…or am I missing something?


  2. 2 Anyoneofus

    So will traffic flow decrease because people don’t want to deal with this?

  3. 3 Gabriel Lopez-Bernal

    Rick - In the original HOT lane configuration they would have been able to. Now, they can’t. However when the next northern phase (Golden Glades to I-595) opens, they will be able to gain entry at GG.

    Anyoneofus - Doubt it - It will just move the problem elsewhere

  4. 4 Blind Mind

    Ive seen this in other cities and thought it was dumb but I imagine it does work or those cities wouldnt use it. At the same time, I think its hilarious how our city officials would rather come up with gimmicks like paying to avoid highway traffic and now these ramp signals instead of providing the South Florida commuter with a viable and useful form of alternative mass transit. But we dont need that really. We need baseball stadiums and performing arts centers that no one goes to.

  5. 5 ChadC02

    I commute 95 every day. I’m lucky that I go from Dade to Broward so it’s a reverse commute, but that still does not alleviate all my traffic concerns and to be honest - I’m all for new traffic management strategies. However, enforcement is the key. HOV lanes never took hold because they were never enforced. I highly doubt that people will respect ramp signals unless there is some teeth behind the penalty for failing to do so. It’s going to be extremely difficult for people to sit at a red light on the ramp to 95.

  6. 6 Mr. Dollar

    All I know is that putting extra stop lights at ramps causes congestion on the feeder road and increases potential of getting carjacked while you wait to get on the highway. Win-win for local crooks at all levels (county hall to county court) woot! woot!

  7. 7 Blingtown

    I think I am to the point where I am against anything that helps alleviate traffic on free interstates. The more traffic the better! It is the only way that people will really take a hard look at alternatives to cars.

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