Thursday, November 30, 2006

Interesting Transportation Stats

Today's Republican-American leads with a story about the I-84 shutdown due to a chemical spill. Of more interest is some of the stats they compiled.

  • 51 percent: Increase of state population from 1956 to 2004

  • 213 percent: Increase in number of motor vehicles in that same period

  • 56 percent: % of urban interstates considered congested in the state
    during peak travel hours

There are no easy solutions, but getting people to either live and work in a short distance, or within easy access to mass transportation might be a good idea.

Republican American, A Look at Connecticut and the nation's traffic woe's, by the numbers: 11/30/06


Anonymous said...

Just how do you propose to get people "to either live and work in a short distance, or within easy access to mass transportation"?

ken krayeske said...

The state has no choice but to invest in bicycling, walking and smaller mass transit networks like those seen in Puerto Rico.

In Boricua, they call them GuaGuas, and arebasically rideshare vans, but run like buses.

In the heart of San Juan's Rio Piedras district, a massive parking garage-cum-guagua station serves all corners of Puerto Rico, and every town has stops. Puerto Rico and Connecticut are essentially the same size with regards to both geography and population.

We would be wise in Connecticut to begin examining alternative transportation models like this.

We need to consider improvements to the bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure. Look at Amsterdam, where it gets potentially colder than CT, but people ride all year round. We must change our behaviors now. Start with carpooling and a concerted effort by the CT DOT to stop subsidizing automobile transportation in the ridiculous fashion it does now.

Anonymous said...

Ken--PR is an island. CT is small state between two large cities.

here's an idea-Build more highways!!! Open up the car pool lanes to everyone. Widen the highways. Construct more. Build more parking garages in Hartford. Its stupid to be driving on highways built and designed 50 years ago. Build more highwyas designed for today.

And outlaw bicycles, they are a nuisance and distraction. And let's bomb Puerto Rico too, who needs it.

Anonymous said...

The answer isn't just in looking at highways or roadways - it also comes down to community design. The reason for the big increase in cars is that whole families have multiple cars so both parents can get around, and even kids can get around, because there are not suburban sidewalks and much sprawl necessitates miles of travel to reach the school or play or recreation or shoppping or work place. Why do we keep building communities where the only option is to drive everywhere? Looking at how communities are designed and planned, and thinking about making bike and walking routes available and usable, can help.

I think there may just be some unexamined assumptions inherent in the current situation - assumptions like it's permissible to do a limitless amount of pollution, that gas will continue to be cheap enough for people to afford driving everywhere, and that the cost of living somewhere will not include a big increase in the cost of commuting to work.

As CT thinks about the location and types of businesses it wants to attract, the same question comes up: where to locate that business vis a vis the qualified workforce to do the job.

And then we get into all the commuting that people who can't afford to live on the coast do as they come to coastal towns to do landscaping, painting, and other residential services.

I don't think that the only model Connecticut has to consider is as an exurb of NYC or Boston. Computers make it possible for more work to be done here with less frequent commutes into these cities, and for businesses to exist here that rely upon (reasonably priced) shipping to reach customers.

Vermont's idea of limiting the numbers of big highways as part of preserving the character of their state has merit. I love the beauty of Connecticut, and more box stores and pollution and highways is not my idea of a huge improvement. More just begets more.

At the end of the day, I want to come home and be glad you went to work in order to have the opportunity to live in and come home to a wonderful town and a great state, not for the opportunity to zip up to your front door and see the parking lot lights from some big box store while you sit on your front porch sniffing the fumes from the highway.

That the answer isn't immediately apparent isn't a reason not to have a commitment both to quality of life and quality of transportation, and see how to have both.

Anonymous said...

in 1956 both the NJ Tpke and the CT Tpke were six lanes wide.

The NJ Tpke in North Jersey is now 14 lanes wide (a 133% increase).

The CT Tpke is still 6 lanes wide.

What state is becoming the cul-de-sac?

Bo ItsHaky said...

We need to create many more jobs closer to residential locations, rather than promoting bedroom communities any further or… Beam me up?

Anonymous said...

"create jobs closer to residential locations"

Like office parks or shopping centers?

Of course not. That would be "sprawl"

If the development cannot be seen from the windows of the Hartford Courant offices, it should be stopped. That's a "smart growth" strategy

Bo ItsHaky said...

Anon 7:59pm –
I see your point; shall we go for the Los Angeles model? Beijing? Milano? Mumbai? Or shall we mandate the confinement of all Connecticut’s population into few urban pockets (long live the de-sprawl republic!), say Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Waterbury and Stamford? How about Danbury? Na, too many already…

There are plenty vacant commercial properties in many small communities around Connecticut. Encourage not breaking new grounds; rather promote the utilization of vacant properties. Develop environmentally friendly manufacturing (energy alternatives perhaps), reintroduce local farming (preferably organic) in addition to service oriented businesses and shopping centers – a self sufficient community in mind.

Anonymous said...

So much to laugh at....

Who wants to come into Hartford with all its public transportation and walking availability? No one. Thats why suburbs and office parks are thriving. They are clean and friendly. Build more highways, widen them that is the only solution.

And Vermont--You are holding up Vermont as the "city on the hill" for your utopian paradise? People are leaving Vermont in throves. Taxes are sky high. Schools and towns of Vt are having to deal with "de-population" and it ain't pretty.

Build more highways, and byways and lay rails. Improving the ease of traffic flow improves commerce and commerce and growth is what leads to prosperity.

Dem Blue and Gold said...

"within easy access to mass transportation"

That would require actual mass transportation. Minus trains into NYC, there is no real mass transportation in CT. The federal government, after the recent push for less oil dependence, has openned up more grants for public transportation, and most studies have found that if you make it easy to use, people will actually change their habits (the key being making it easy to use). Hartford wants urban renewal? helping workers get there more easily is a great beginning. One only has to look at the Virginia side of Washington DC to see that public transportation in itself can spark development. Connecticut's really missing the boat on this one.

Anonymous said...

VA has decided better roads are needed as well. So much for the mass transit panacea

ken krayeske said...

Anonymous 4:47

Your attempt at political satire falls short because it fails to address the fundamental issues of the discussion.

More cars will never work. If America is going to have 400 million people in 15 to 20 years, that means Connecticut will probably grow another 1 million people.

We can't put another 500,000 cars on these roads. We need to create a transit system that deals with the sprawling topography and population distribution while confronting the issue of global warming.

Building in vacant lots in Hartford and giving people massive tax subsidies - homesteading credits - to move into them is a start. We subsidize the suburbs tremendously, let's shift that economic gain for people to move back into the cities.

The highway is what partly destroyed Hartford. Any time you build more highways, they just fill up. We don't want six more lanes in downtown Hartford. I want buses.

To call bicycles a nuisance displays nearly unforgiveable ignorance of perhaps the most energy efficient and healthy means of transporting a human body short to medium distances.

Additionally, the hyperbolic call for bombing Puerto Rico borders on racist, and displays even more stupidity, as the U.S. government bombed the Puerto Rican island of Vieques regularly from 1945 through 2003.

Popular protest ended such military adventure. Perhaps we have more to learn from Puerto Rico than just transit systems.

Anonymous said...

Ken, in the 1970's the folks in Avon promised to ride buses if the DOT cancelled I-291.

I -291 was cancelled. The Avon commuters just kept driving on Rt 44.

To paraphrase "Field of Dreams" the drivers will come whether it is built or not

ken krayeske said...

The situation now is a little different.

Our activities are pretty clearly altering the planet's ecosystem, to our detriment. Just ask the people in New Orleans.

Change or die, or at least that's how I interpret the argument that Attorney General Blumenthal's colleague from Massachusetts pitched to the U.S. Supreme Court Wednesday.

I could be wrong.

Tim White said...


In fact, jobs are already leaving the state as employers conclude their ee's can telecommute from lower cost states to CT.

Anonymous said...

"Just ask the people in New Orleans."

who spent their levee money building casinos?

It's "An Inconvenient Truth" that being green doesn;t get real people to part with real green

GMR said...

Local NIMBYites and various "smart growth" policies make housing more expensive. If you have less housing, you have higher prices for housing.

Recently, a Trump tower proposed for downtown Stamford was rejected by some local board. This was going to be a high density housing located only a few blocks from the Stamford RR station, which is probably the best RR station in terms of departures and arrivals to other points. And it would have only taken a half acre of vacant space.

Taking metro north from one Connecticut station to another is often difficult for two reasons: it's difficult if not impossible to park at your local station, and it is often difficult to get from the RR station to your office. More parking is absolutely required for Metro North. New Canaan's meter lot is filled by 6:15 am every day. Yet Darien recently rejected a parking garage because it would create more traffic (around the parking garage, which is all they care about).

CT and PR may be the same size and have roughly the same populations, but PR has a much more temperate climate. Bicycling in Connecticut for four months a year is impossible. Amsterdam may have a colder average, but that's because summers are cooler and winters are warmer. Also, Amsterdam (and all of the Netherlands for that matter) is essentially flat as a pancake, so you don't need to be in prime physical shape to ride far. Rideshare vans are never going to catch on with vast numbers of the populace here.

People talk about Vermont, yet that state isn't growing. The country as a whole is: largely due to immigration, but also due to natural increase. We need more people to fund the Ponzi-esque social security system anyway. But a growing population is going to mean more box stores, more houses, more cars, more restaurants, more movie theaters, more everything.

Mirror said...

First - Expect little from Rell - She appointed a state trooper as the Commissioner of the scandel ridden DOT - state troopers are not inovators. Then she proposed lifting the property tax on cars - this would have led to more and bigger cars on the road.
Second - Connecticut is basically a highway and bedroom for NY and NE . The state has to decide what it wants and then decide how to do it. For instance, there is no reason why we cannot say we want to limit development of the NE and NW northern sections and limit road access to maintain their rural character. We should call for a New England conference on roads and put back TOLLS at the state borders to show we mean business. RR's are nice but must pay their own way. Too much taxpayer money and time is being spent on this expensive alternative toy. Bikes too -- they are dangerous and distracting to the issue. Planning has to be done AFTER a decision on what we want Connecticut to be in ten, twenty and forty years from now so we can build the infrastructure to support it. I know, sounds simple, but it does open a can of worms. Anything else will be a waste of time and our money.

Anonymous said...

If you're going to advocate building more roads, then please consider the global warming implications. This chart is one look at where we may be headed:

Whether bikes are a menace or not depends on whether you regard them as an afterthought or integrate them into transportation planing and welcome them as a way to keep health care costs down, improve community spirit, decrease pollution and noise, and get to locally based work and businesses. Here are links to two cities that are including bikes in their transportation plans:

Box stores are not the only answer to providing goods and services to communities. Although they may seem cheaper on the surface, the dollars leave the communities faster, instead of recirculating. Here's a brief description of what Boulder is doing to try to encourage local businesses to support each other and improve community awareness of the value of local businesses:

These links were not selected with any knowledge of the best examples -- just to stimulate thought about what we can think about doing besides "more and bigger".

ken krayeske said...

Cars are never the answer. They are always part of the transportation mix, but to continue to rely on them is suicidal for society.

It's not about being green or black or white or blue or yellow. It's about looking at the basic research:
- for every hour you spend in your car during rush hour traffic, you lose 90 minutes of productivity (economic cul de sac)
- air quality inside cars is worse than air quality outside of cars
- Americans are by and large out of shape
- Connecticut eats land at a faster rate than its people reproduce. We will pave the state if we don't throw the brakes on now.

We need to rebuild our cities and communities by creating walkable, bikeable urban spaces.

Understanding that Connecticut is a hilly place, how is it feasible then that San Francisco is a great bicycle town? And beyond that, why shouldn't people be in prime shape? There isn't a hill in Connecticut that can't be bicycled up.

The obesity epidemic gripping our country relates directly to a sedentary lifestyle. People need to get off of their couch potato asses. I recently saw a study about the gasoline wasted during the course of a year by overweight drivers - those who carry extra pounds on their waists negatively affect their car's mpg rating.

To say you can't bicycle because of the cold reflects vanity and cowardice. I would like to remind you of gloves, hats and neckwarmers. It is precisely this attitude of laziness and entitlement that has put us in the situation we are in.

All the empty parking lots in Hartford could be buildings, once were buildings. Instead, we are constructing these crazy condo complexes in Cromwell where you need cars to live. As long as we continue to create places reliant on the car, these problems will persist.

turfgrrl said...

Towns and cities should encourage dense development where the infrastructure exists to support it. In other words, stop subsidizing the roads and utilities on build outs in undeveloped areas. Coastal CT has a different set of issues than interior CT, so different solutions fit, and I have more of a coastal CT perspective. So essentially, the coastal urban cities should make it easy for commuters to navigate within the city. Washington DC or Boston has done this well through a combination of commuter trains, metro parking and roads that separate interior traffic from pass through traffic.

Cars will never be replaced until there is something cheaper, faster, and better. Bicycles are not it.

Anonymous said...

"Cars will never be replaced until there is something cheaper, faster, and better. Bicycles are not it."

Well, you can prove your point by taking it to the extreme, but the fact is, no one in the above thread advocated that bikes would 100% replace cars. I believe it was said that cars are not the exclusive answer, and that cars as they currently exist present environmental issues that must not be overlooked. Mass transportation is also an insufficient answer because to work well, doesn't it require lots of people to go the same place at the same time, and does it not become more expensive as people want to go more and more places at different times? Something has to fill in the gaps, so a multistrand strategy is necessary. More roads and more cars does not represent that multistrand strategy.

Motor scooters and motorbikes are used extensively in China, with families of 4 finding a way to squish onto one motorbike. They start to make more sense inside of a framework to reduce the carbon footprint and respond to global warming, as well as to respond to the high cost of fuel and move away from being depending on Middle Eastern oil. Electric golf carts to make quick and very local grocery store runs might make sense in many months of the year, who knows? Power assisted bicycles are also out there.

If you look at the links, you will see that some places have chosen to create bike lockers. The expense of doing so is minimal, and if bike lockers and designated bike routes could be created at low cost, perhaps the need to create parking lots could be reduced as a greater percentage of people did local shopping by bike, more than offsetting the cost of identifying the bike route and putting in the lockers.

By the way, for those who have not tried a bicycle lately, I have to say that I was shocked and delighted a few years ago when I bought my first bike in decades. Man, with 20 gears or so, they are SO easy to ride and I found I could build up endurance on them very quickly, moving from start to 20 miles per trip in the space of a short vacation (and that's probably on the low end of what's possible).

Finally, I think it's worth asking, where are all these cars and trucks going that are tied up on 95? We import much of our food from states like Florida, California, and even other countries. How much of this trucking would go away if we focused on growing and distributing as much food as possible locally and just supplementing with outside food? With the high costs of petroleum inputs and fuel, maybe it will become worthwhile to grow closer to CT. I have no figures, but is it possible that the price of food production actually could go up (if price of land in CT makes that necessary) and still food cost to consumer might not change radically (offset by reduction in shipping).

If you see any figures on the sources of the traffic, Turfgrrl, that would make a most interesting addition to the discussion.

Anonymous said...

"high costs of petroleum inputs and fuel" is why mass transit often doesn;t save the time you account for the energy used in building the tracks and the rail cars you have a huge deficit to make up,

Anonymous said...


Jeez, IIRC I doubt you can grow citrus in Connecticut! Ok, now in all seriousness, I believe we need to REBUILD the railroad tracks -- especially the old Manchester to Williamantic railroad.
I believe Mass transit will work in the state. We can't build highways (With one exception, the highway from Bolton to the RI state line NEEDS to be built!), but we need to build railroads in Connecticut.
A filled freight car would take out 12 semi trucks. One locomotive could pull 100+ trains. To get 1200 trucks off the highway would help the traffic.