Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Post-Ike traffic snarls make Houston's roads even worse

Last Thursday evening I left my house -- ten minutes before the electricity was restored -- and drove from West U to Copperfield, near 290 and 6 on the northwest side, a distance of about 40 miles that takes normally an hour at posted speeds with some traffic.

It took two hours and fifteen minutes. I regularly travel to Beaumont, a hundred miles away, in an hour less than that.

Over the weekend we ventured out for food a couple of times and instantly regretted it: four-way stops at nearly every intersection, with gridlocked cars clogging the lanes at each crossing that had a functioning traffic signal.

Yesterday the Chronic reported
that the traffic jams on Monday, with many employees and school children returning for the first time in a week, were among the worst ever across the city:

Metro officials on Tuesday agreed to open high-occupancy vehicle lanes on U.S. 59 and U.S. 290 after traffic on many freeways came to a complete halt during the rush hour Monday, the first day many Houstonians went back to work after the storm.

Today we learn that our county judge -- "recognized worldwide as a transportation expert" -- won't have all the traffic lights restored before oh, maybe Election Day:

With darkened intersections leading to traffic snarls on freeways and city streets, officials are searching for at least some relief by putting more officers on traffic-directing duty and reopening high-occupancy vehicle lanes.

Traffic signals at about 1,200 Houston area intersections were not yet working Tuesday but should all have at least a flashing red light by the end of next week, said Mike Marcotte, the city's director of public works and engineering. ...

Getting all the city's traffic lights functioning at pre-Hurricane Ike levels could take until November, Marcotte said.

That article is sprinkled liberally with the same feel-good BS that last week's all-GOP press avails were similarly full of. Go read it. You'll get diabetes from the candy-coated smarm:

"I've been amazed with the courtesy our drivers have been showing," Marcotte said.

"More and more signals are being put in working condition every day, hour by hour almost," said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett, who convened a meeting of transportation officials Tuesday afternoon to seek solutions to the problems. "The flow in the community is getting better."

"For the most part, Houston is behaving extremely well," said Art Neely, who has driven a cab for 25 years.

A cab driver complimenting Houston drivers. That's wow-worthy all by itself. (Have you seen how those crazy cabbies cut through traffic? They're worse than the wrecker drivers. But I digress.)

Ed Emmett led the parade of Republican officials running for re-election across every local teevee channel last week: Rick Perry (yes, he's running for re-election), Bill White (yes, he's a Republican and he's running for governor in 2010 too), John Cornyn, Michael McCaul, John Culberson (who at least publicly bitched a little when his command center ran out of pizza) and even that Michelin Man Tuffy Hamilton from washed-out Orange County managed to get some face time with the cameras. They cried out in unison "All is Well!" even as two million people had no electricity and the PODs couldn't get any ice.

I say we elect a few Democrats to county offices so that they can at least share some of the blame come the next hurricane, eh?

No comments: