Discuss Detroit Archives - Beginning January 2006 Detroit freeway onramp signals. Previous Next
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Gravitymachine
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Username: Gravitymachine

Post Number: 941
Registered: 05-2005
Posted From: 198.208.159.20
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 9:54 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

As I got on the freeway this morning, I spotted one and started wondering about the history of 'em. In the 7 years I've lived here they have not worked. Just curious.

I can only imagine that people stopped paying attention to them (kinda like the traditional traffic control devices in this city :P ) and therefore became obsolete.
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 842
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 64.12.116.204
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 9:56 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

5-6 years ago I heard that the ones on I-94 were not working because the fiberoptic cable that controlled them was cut during construction work, and being replaced during the I-94 work that happened a few years ago.....but most have now been vandalized and many are not even there.
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Smogboy
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Username: Smogboy

Post Number: 2049
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 69.47.100.44
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:22 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I vaguely remember them helping out in getting onto the freeways and preventing massive back-ups but I don't believe I've seen one work since. In theory they're okay. Are these signals in any other city in America? Or is it just here?
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Gravitymachine
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Username: Gravitymachine

Post Number: 942
Registered: 05-2005
Posted From: 198.208.159.20
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:24 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

they have em in portland, OR I know, and they work relatively well, but people there are much more civic minded and obey them....I tend to think that wouldn't quite be the case here
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Smogboy
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Username: Smogboy

Post Number: 2051
Registered: 11-2004
Posted From: 69.47.100.44
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:27 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ahhh civility. Now that's something to strive for in ANY city.
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Boshna
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Username: Boshna

Post Number: 125
Registered: 01-2005
Posted From: 141.213.217.188
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:29 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Were these signals present when the freeways were first built? They have intrigued me for years as well. I know the ones on the far east side up 94 haven't worked for years.
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Toolbox
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Username: Toolbox

Post Number: 857
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.184.29.148
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:35 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Most of those have not worked in at least my 20 years of driving in the area.
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Atl_runner
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Username: Atl_runner

Post Number: 1871
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 24.98.116.13
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:40 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I just used one yesterday to get onto 75 north in Atlanta. Essentially, they are green until designated rush hours, where they then stop every car for about 5 seconds each creating a much smoother merge onto the freeway. I think they work, but not well enough to put scarce resources into.
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Hagglerock
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Username: Hagglerock

Post Number: 209
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 12.219.76.215
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:41 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The Minneapolis area freeways have them, during high congestion periods each on-ramp allows one car per green light. As for traffic flow I don't have any numbers but rush hour is not terrible as it is in other cities. Is this similar to Detroit?(if the signals are ever working)
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 845
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 64.12.116.204
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

On a similar topic, does anyone know why the yellow lights were put on sign-posts (without signs) and covered up, and never put to any use. The covers have since been weathered away, and the lights remain, but put to no use. They were installed around 2000.
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Mcp001
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Username: Mcp001

Post Number: 2072
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 69.14.135.95
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:46 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I've only seen them very rarely in other states. The places that I have seen them work just about as well as they do here.

What I don't understand is why Michigan doesn't do what Ohio does at the end of their on-ramps and just place yield signs just before entering the freeway.

You're supposed to yield to traffic that is already there anyway, and it isn't affected by minor problems like a blackout or someone cutting a fiber line.

But then again, there is that 'minor" issue of actual enforcement...
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 517
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 68.2.191.57
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:51 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)


quote:

Are these signals in any other city in America?


I assume we're discussing metered on-ramp stop lights? They're common, maintained and obeyed in Phoenix, AZ.

Personally, I find them annoying. They force everyone to start accelerating from a dead stop which seems less safe and less fuel-efficient.

On the other hand, I can see it's a cheaper alternative than adding freeway lanes that would be unnecessary during off-peak hours.


quote:

Were these signals present when the freeways were first built?


No. That level of technology didn't exist then.
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Noggin
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Username: Noggin

Post Number: 56
Registered: 09-2004
Posted From: 69.241.253.36
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:54 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I am sure they got federal money to install them but like most governments they cannot find the money to maintain them. That would take too much discipline .
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_sj_
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Username: _sj_

Post Number: 1278
Registered: 12-2003
Posted From: 69.220.230.150
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:59 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

they worked for a while, but then people just ignored them. Not enough enforcement to stop people.
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Mj64
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Username: Mj64

Post Number: 64
Registered: 02-2005
Posted From: 68.40.177.3
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:19 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Both Chicago and Cincinnati have lights on their on-ramps. They're used during rush hours. In the last ten years I lived in Chicago, I felt they were doing less good as the freeway became more congested. Even by letting one car go every five seconds, it didn't seem to help with congestion, and often created a long line of people waiting to get onto the freeway, which led more people to blow off the light....

I don't get the lack of yield signs here either. Massachusetts has them, as do other states. Illinois doesn't, but it's still the law that traffic coming onto a highway yields to traffic already there. I don't know why they don't put up signs.....
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Ptero
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Username: Ptero

Post Number: 23
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 4.229.63.133
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:47 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Boy this is pulling up memories that could be suspect.

I believe they were installed in the early 70's-ish as a research deal, with federal dollars. As in "let's try this out and see if it does any good". One of the first such installations, Motown was the guinea pig.

As mj64 suggests for elsewhere, they were used just during rush hours to try and reduce backups on the freeway. They were not very useful in the end.
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Rustic
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Username: Rustic

Post Number: 2239
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 130.132.177.245
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 11:58 am: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Commonplace. In particular LA where they can get elaborate with mulitple lane onramps including HOV onramp lanes with separate lights for each ... LA is cool like that.

As I recall in Detroit I remember them being like stop signs, red then green simply to better space the cars for merging durring rush hour along that stretch of 94 between the Jeffries and the netherlands of the eastside. In particular the onramp light on trumbull to I-94 West onramp would back up traffic onto trumbull rather than the freeway itself. It worked okay, kinda sucked to have a block and a half backup there of WSU students trying to get home every afternoon rush hour but unless all you wanted was 94 west, there were alternate routes to take.

I _think_ I've also seen them on the beltway and the BW parkway in suburban DC too.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 396
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 35.8.218.217
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 12:08 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Mcp001-- I recall a state police officer being quoted or paraphrased in that freeways/traffic column in the News or Freep a while back, stating that neither the merging car nor the cars already on the freeway have the inherent right of way. Both parties are supposed to make room for each other and cooperate. Sounds good in theory. What I can't stand is people who have no clue how to merge-- they dawdle on the entrance ramp to the last possible moment, even slow down. Often when there aren't any cars next to them! Then they go 80 after finally getting their asses on the freeway.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1316
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.40
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 12:13 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A study was done in Mpls a few years ago to prove that they actually work. Several Republican law makers were angry that the lights caused them to have to wait a few minutes to get on the highway. It proved that the system works in controlling congestion and can delay the need for additional highway lanes by several year, easily paying for itself in a short time.

However the study also showed that the highway dept. had been a little too overzealous in making people wait, so they loosened up the times it was in effect as well as allowed more people per minute to go through the lights.

Here's the results of the study:

http://www.dot.state.mn.us/ram pmeterstudy/newsreleaseresults .html
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 518
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 68.2.191.57
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 12:45 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bvos, wow. Studies like that are nice to see. No guesswork, just the facts. The 26 percent increase in crashes was surprising.

Are wait times static during rush hour? Maybe I was mistaken to think they were measuring traffic density and automatically adjusting wait times accordingly.

Occasionally cops have to make freeway traffic breaks for accident cleanup or VIP motorcades. If properly designed, these lights could help in those situations too.
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Hamtramck_steve
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Username: Hamtramck_steve

Post Number: 2823
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 136.181.195.65
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 12:53 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I think the lights went in around 1980, and by 1985 were turned off. Too many suburbanites heading home at 5 PM were blowing through them for the lights to be effective.
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Wolverine
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Username: Wolverine

Post Number: 135
Registered: 04-2004
Posted From: 141.213.196.136
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 1:20 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I had seen them in other cities before I had noticed them in Detroit. They are in heavy use in LA, especially during rush hour. They do seem to help traffic merging on. That way you don't have a massive train of vehicles entering, and people in the right lane fighting to get over. Only in Michigan would you see them not used and broken.

(Message edited by wolverine on March 23, 2006)
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1318
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.34
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 1:26 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The wait times are not static. They're adjusted by traffic conditions (congestion, accidents, police situations, etc.) from a control center downtown. The folks in the control room view traffic conditions via a camera and adjust accordingly. Additionally there are sensors in the road surface as well as a visual recognition software program that take feeds from the cameras to adjust the lights via algorhythms. Surface street intersections are controlled with the system as well.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1319
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.34
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 1:29 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here's some info on Metro Detroit's very limited, elementary system:

http://www.michigan.gov/mdot/0 ,1607,7-151-9621_11041_14581-- -,00.html
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 520
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 68.2.191.57
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 1:31 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ah! Smart. Yet they're not used. LOL!
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 48
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 1:55 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The best part of the "dynamic" signs is how they never change.

For instance, the one on I-275 around 7 mile that has said "TEST MESSAGE 4" or something similar for about 3 months.

Or the fact that the "Travel Times To ___" never changes based on traffic, thereby is totally useless. I've been sitting on I-696 looking up at the sign telling me its "11 minutes" or whatever to I-75 thinking yeah right.

Chicago's system is ACTUALLY dynamic and gives you an estimated time, based on traffic conditions, to indicated landmarks.
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Jimaz
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Username: Jimaz

Post Number: 521
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 68.2.191.57
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 2:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Oh, that's funny. Link rot on traffic signs. :-)
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Jqls
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Username: Jqls

Post Number: 19
Registered: 03-2006
Posted From: 68.43.81.255
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 2:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They put the ramp lights on 94 in detroit where the entrance ramp was short. With the light it allowed a vehicle to build up enough speed to merge with traffic therefore not slowing traffic on freeway. There was about a 10 second delay between red and green. 10 years ago when I was at WSU I remember they worked, the one that I was aquainted with was at the west entrance of 94 and trumbell.
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Philm
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Username: Philm

Post Number: 14
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 66.77.102.10
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 3:14 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They are all over the place here in Los Angeles.

I recall when they went in on the Lodge, in the 60's.

Phil
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 849
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 64.12.116.204
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 3:36 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The highway signs are not accurate, but if you go to the MDOT website and look under Detroit traffic conditions, you can see the traffic data, although a fat lot of good that does you when you are stuck in traffic. The only thing I have ever seen on the Chicago traffic signs is HEAVY CONGESTION AHEAD, SEEK ALTERNATE ROUTE as I have been sitting stuck in traffic. This is the reason among others I always take the train to Chicago.
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 51
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 3:43 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bob, the signs in Indiana and the I-80 corridor are like that, yes.

Other locations in the Chicago metro give you distance to intersections in current times, a la "21 minues to circle interchange"
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Bob
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Username: Bob

Post Number: 850
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 64.12.116.204
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 4:00 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ahhhhh, again, take the train when I can to avoid that mess. I-80 does always give me a headache.
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Gistok
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Username: Gistok

Post Number: 1917
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.81.6
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 4:24 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Ah yes those digital highway signs.... I remember the one around Lonyo on the far west side used to say "I-94 & 9 Mile Rd. - 12 minutes". I tested that sign, but only made it as far as Moross in 12 minutes. You would have had to have been traveling at 77 MPH to get to the destination in 12 minutes during late night traffic.

Looks like someone in state government doesn't know their distances very well.
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Bvos
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Username: Bvos

Post Number: 1327
Registered: 10-2003
Posted From: 66.238.170.51
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 5:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Or they do know the distances and it's based on the average time it is taking most folks to travel to 94 & 9 Mile. I rarely see the flow of traffic going less than 75 mph on 94 during non-rush hour
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Harsensis
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Username: Harsensis

Post Number: 33
Registered: 07-2005
Posted From: 71.227.102.82
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 5:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

A few years ago, when they put all of those sensors in the road and installed those cameras they were also going to have an AM radio station you could tune into for traffic. I only know that because they put in a sign at I-94 and 8 mile. THen they covered up the sign and I later I think they took it out.

From what I remember, those lights use to work from the late 70's to early 80's
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Busterwmu
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Username: Busterwmu

Post Number: 214
Registered: 09-2004
Posted From: 24.247.221.241
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 7:21 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They are on many freeways around the Los Angeles area. They seem to work quite well there, but occassionally there are too many cars backing up behind the light, spilling out onto the street they turned off. I even saw one dual lane setup, where the green signals would alternate to help make up for an extremely short ramp. In my 20 years around Detroit, I only remember the ones on 94 working once. Usuaully they were in shambles and also graffiti colored. I-94 or maybe the Southfield in my mind would be the only places to reinstall and maintain these, as the onramps are SO short for getting into traffic.
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Ptero
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Username: Ptero

Post Number: 24
Registered: 12-2005
Posted From: 141.210.48.118
Posted on Thursday, March 23, 2006 - 10:40 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This guy lists what states and roads have ramp meters.There is nothing here to help the Detroit discussion but still interesting.


http://www.ajfroggie.com/roads /rampmeter.htm
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Philm
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Username: Philm

Post Number: 16
Registered: 03-2005
Posted From: 66.77.102.10
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 2:25 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I also remember sometime in the early 60's when a camera system was installed on the Lodge (possibly elsewhere, but that's the only one I traveled in those days).
They were HUGE housings sitting on overpasses overlooking the roadbed. Along with the cameras were large illuminated displays over each lane that would show a red 'X' if there was congestion ahead.

I thought it was so space age at the time, but I don't recall traffic improving.

Phil
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Focusonthed
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Username: Focusonthed

Post Number: 67
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 209.220.229.254
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 2:46 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

They still have the "Red X" system, and variants, in other cities. Dallas-Ft. Worth for example, uses it at least on I-20 through Arlington.
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Detroit313
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Username: Detroit313

Post Number: 14
Registered: 02-2006
Posted From: 72.229.136.103
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 4:30 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I havent read the entire thread yet but, wow nobody remembers the lights working in DETROIT. I am 28 and now live in NYC but was born and raised in the D. My family got into an accident back in 1980 going on the onramp (i think the lodge). I was 2 yrs old but I do remember the burgundy Cordorbra??? getting all messed up! Ah I sure do mis DETROIT? 313 OUT
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Swingline
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Username: Swingline

Post Number: 424
Registered: 11-2003
Posted From: 172.138.150.249
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 6:35 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

HamSteve knows his Detroit automotive transportation history and got it right

quote:

I think the lights went in around 1980, and by 1985 were turned off. Too many suburbanites heading home at 5 PM were blowing through them for the lights to be effective.


The lights were an early 80's project that succumbed to scofflaws and maintenance problems.
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Gistok
Member
Username: Gistok

Post Number: 1931
Registered: 08-2004
Posted From: 4.229.72.133
Posted on Monday, March 27, 2006 - 8:03 pm: Edit PostDelete PostMove Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why haven't they been removed? Geese, for once scrappers would have done us a favor by removing this blight.....

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