My Commuting Times

OK, before I say anything else, I'm sure that others will post their own tales of sorrow and pain traveling back and forth to work that will completely outshine what I'm going to talk about. I'm not trying to whine about my commute, because it's actually not that bad (of course I'd love to work at home more often, but that doesn't always work itself out). Anyway, here's a map of the route I take coming home - I'll explain what the dots relate to in a moment:

The blue dot is where the pain starts. The red dot is where the pain ends, and the green dot is where I get off 169 to get home (I'm about a 1/2 mile away from my house when I get to the green dot). Basically from 4 PM to 6 PM on the weekdays (varies from day to day) the section between the blue and red dots clog up to the point where it's stop-and-go. I timed it last night, and it took me 10 minutes to travel that section, which is 3 miles long, or 18 MPH (although most of that time was spent stopped - only until I got close to the red dot did things start freeing up). Between the red dot and the green dot, it took me 8 minutes to cover that stretch, which is 8 minutes long, so I was averaging 60 MPH.

Again, I'm sure others have far worse commutes, but here's what interests me about this stretch of road. I've only lived in Minnesota for just over 4 years now, but from what I understand Hwy 169 really didn't see a lot of traffic until they built the Bloomington Ferry bridge, which is just north of where 101, 169, and 18 all run into each other. After that happened, Scott County (which is south of the Ferry bridge) started to explode in terms of new housing and development. The problem is that the stretch of 169 north of the Ferry bridge to the 169/494 intersection had 3 intersections with stoplights. For whatever reason, they never put bridges into those intersections, and over the years the traffic has become unbearable at times. They're finally doing something about it as they're now putting in bridges - they have one done, and there's initial work being done at another intersection (I have no idea how they're going to untangle the stoplight mess that is the 169/494 intersection bridge). Just having that one bridge has really freed up the traffic pressure, but it amazes me how road construction is done. It always seems shortsighted on purpose, like the plans never put in enough bridges and lanes to cover the anticipated traffic, just so they can come in years later to do it right. Of course by that time population numbers go up, and so they'll come in years later to add more lanes and whatnot. Seems like I picked the wrong business to be in at times!

I'm sure someone will lash out at me and call me ignorant and stupid because I don't understand all the intricacies and politics and budgeting that goes into urban planning, road construction, community development, etc., etc. You're preaching to the choir - I fully admit my ignorance in these areas. And I realize you just can't "put in a bridge" or "add new lanes" - there's so many problems relating to road construction, plus the physical time it takes to make these changes is usually long. But I'm also fascinated by construction - I love seeing new buildings or bridges go up. So...I'm not sure I really have a point to this post, other than I've learned not to complain too much about traffic problems because, well, things can't change overnight and there are issues getting things changed relative to transportation routes (especially those that are heavily traveled - the 62/35N crossover in the Twin Cities is a huge traffic pressure point, but to fix it would be a daunting task). However, I also wish those that are involved in planning would think about the future ramifications of their plans - sometimes the results of new construction don't seem like they were created in the first place with future issues in mind.

* Posted at 01.20.2005 11:17:26 AM CST | Link *

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