Bob Sirott's One more thing about the express lanes - New York News

Bob Sirott's One more thing about the express lanes

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One more thing, about the mystery of the express lanes. Have you ever been stuck in bad traffic on the local lanes of the Kennedy and wondered why the express lanes weren't open in your direction?

I asked the folks at the Illinois Department of Transportation to explain how they determine what time they switch those reversible lanes. They said the Kennedy traffic affects traffic on all the expressways. There is a method to the madness.

In 2010, the scheduled target time for a weekday switch of inbound to outbound was adjusted one hour, from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with two hours of flexibility depending on accidents or unusual circumstances.

In the afternoon rush, if the inbound direction has significantly higher delays, they do consider flipping the reversible lanes back. But that would only be after most evening commuters have left downtown and outbound congestion had dissipated.

On Thursday and Friday evenings, in the summer, IDOT has noticed heavier than usual inbound traffic.

So for the last two weeks they've done a reverse flip -- opening the express lanes inbound in the evening, and then flipping them back to outbound later at night.

According to IDOT spokesman Guy Tridgell, when it looks like there's more traffic in the local lanes than there is going the other way in the express lanes, it's sort of an optical illusion. The additional capacity provided by the reversible lanes results in a lower number of vehicles per lane in that direction and, therefore, a higher average speed. But when looking at the actual number of vehicles, the reversibles typically flow with the higher volume. Occasionally, travel times may be higher for the off-peak direction, but that does not necessarily correlate to more cars.

I know. My head is exploding too.

All I know is, speaking for all of us on the late shift who come in on the Kennedy, we want the express lanes open inbound until about 3 in the afternoon. Or just give me a switch in my car and let me control it.

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