From the Bad Idea Department – LANE ENDS: The Highway System

Everyone hates traffic. What if I told you we could end traffic altogether with a simple plan? Wouldn’t that be worth investing billions of dollars and a lot of fraudulent eminent domains claims to?

The Problem With Highways

We’re going to ignore all the causes of traffic those highfalutin city planners and traffic engineers think they know about and get to the root of the problem. Off ramps. Generally, when you have, say, a two lane highway, there will be on ramps, immediately followed by an off ramp, so cars get on, and then the either the lane merges, or turns into an off-ramp. In either case, the highway stays at two lanes.

This is a problem because it’s well known that the cause of all traffic is not enough lanes, and the more lanes we have the less traffic we’ll have. Based on this premise, I present for your approval and billions of dollars in funding, a new highway system.

The Fix

Hear me out here. Instead of lanes merging, they stay there. There are still off ramps, but they just fork off and the new lane continues. On ramps never merge with the existing lanes. A two lane high becomes a three lane highway when there’s an entrance, and when there’s another entrance it becomes a four lane highway. Slowly but surely, we add lanes, until, by the end of the highway, it’s nearly physically impossible for there to be traffic.

While I couldn’t find an exact number of exits along the entire route, I determined there are around 150 exits in Florida on interstate 95. i95 runs through 16 states. If we round 150 down to a lean average of 100 exits per state (to be on the safe side), that’s 1,600 exits. Now, one highway lane is about 12 feet. Assuming each exit is one lane, adding all those lanes adds 19,200 feet to the width of the highway, which is 3.63 miles total, or 53 football fields. This is slightly larger than the average two lane high which is around 24 feet plus around 8 for the shoulders, which is around the size of 4.5 hotdog carts pushed together.

Reliable source Wikipedia says there are about 42,915 miles of interstate highway in the United States. If each one has about the same number of exits as i95, that means we now have 155,784 square miles of new interstate highway in the country, somewhere between the size of Zimbabwe and Paraguay.

Problems With the Fix and Solutions to the Problems With the Fix

Well, there are only a few problems with this idea, and we’re hard at work addressing them.

If a car enters the highway at its beginning and stays in the left lane, when they come to their exit, it could be over 3 miles away from them. If a car changes lanes at somewhere between 3 and 5 miles an hour, it would take them between 45 minutes to 1 hour to get to the off ramp. This would be slowed down by cars moving in other lanes at disparate speeds. There probably won’t be a speed limit in our new highway system because there’s so much space or whatever, so it will be extremely dangerous for everyone at all times.

If, instead of slowly changing lanes to the right, as we currently do on highways, drivers moved perpendicularly to the highway, they could reach their destinations much faster. This would however result in Frogger style hazards for anyone leaving, entering, or driving down the highway. The accidents this would regularly cause would probably lead to an increase in traffic–that would be, unless we introduced a constantly roving fleet of rescue vehicles to clean up accidents. Given the danger of the new highway system, it would be prudent to have a second fleet that watches out for the first fleet, in case they run into issues. Because policing the highways in a meaningful way is impossible, the second fleet would also act as special deputies/magistrates and would have authority to try/convict reckless drivers/their enemies.

In Conclusion

I hope you will write to your senators in support of this exciting new system. Thank you!


Credit to my brother Gabe who brainstormed this idea with me on a long interstate trip.

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