Would lane barrier in Gorst help morning commute?

The in basket: Phil Seratt, who must contend with the morning rush hour slowdowns in Gorst as three lanes of traffic heading north shrink to two, suggested installation of a barrier to separate the two through-lanes of travel as a driver nears the railroad overpass.

“I am not an expert,” he said,”but it would seem to me that the left lane would be able to continue moving while the right lanes are merging.

“As it is, people driving in left lane want to stop for the people in the two right lanes to merge.”

The out basket: It had been years since I’d been through Gorst in the early morning. Working from home for four years and then retiring as anything but a freelance columnist in 2007 will do that.

So I visited that spot on June 29. Sure enough, the free flow of traffic at 6:15 a.m. was backed up to the Mattress Ranch by 6:40. It didn’t back up any further and traffic was flowing well again by 7, but school was out for the summer, so it’s probably worse in the winter.

Even so, I didn’t even have to ask my state sources about Phil’s idea. Off the top of my head, I told him that a stationary barrier of concrete or water-filled plastic would narrow the through lanes by two feet or more, require a cushioning structure to minimize injury when vehicles hit its leading edge and trap vehicles behind a disabled car in the inside lane. 

Worse, it would be in place all day every day, preventing the common driver courtesy of moving over to allow for merging traffic ahead, which would increase the likelihood of accidents in the remaining lanes.

A row of upright pylons instead of a continuous barrier would do the same, and present a maintenance and replacement headache when they are knocked over.

It also seemed unlikely the state would stand the expense of either to deal with a short daily period of congestion. 

Steve Bennett of the region’s highway engineers agreed with my analysis, but said a solid barrier takes closer to six feet in width than two.

I did get a surprise in that I’d never gotten a complaint about the drivers who scoot past the backup in the outside lane, which is about to end, then merge into traffic. That maneuver generates regular objections about drivers who do it in the afternoons on southbound Highway 3 in front of Parr Ford and the city sewer plant.

One thought on “Would lane barrier in Gorst help morning commute?

  1. How about a bridge from the vicinity of the Bonsai gardens so we wouldn’t have to loop through Gorst at all….

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