Discussion:
Why not to drive on the shoulder
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John F. Carr
2012-06-24 01:15:16 UTC
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I got caught in a traffic jam today (June 23) caused by flooding on
Route 128 (I-95) at Route 20 in Waltham, Mass. According to the
newspaper a retaining wall collapsed.

Southbound traffic stopped. A bunch of people decided it was only a
mile or two to the Route 20 exit and they could drive there on the
shoulder. The result was five lanes of stopped traffic instead of
four. A MassDOT truck aproached on the shoulder, lights flashing, to
get to work on the flooded section. It took some time for cars to
move to let him through. When he passed cars returned to the
shoulder. A police car (SUV) approached on the shoulder and the cycle
repeated.

Ten or twenty minutes later (a half mile or a mile) I passed a broken
down car on the shoulder. People were shifting into the right lane to
pass it then returning to the shoulder.

When I got to the chokepoint there were two police cars on the right,
blocking the shoulder and right travel lane. There was some debris in
the road there, washed down from higher ground. On the left was a
MassDOT truck preventing people from driving into a deep puddle.

The right lane blockage was before exit 26. People driving on the
shoulder had to merge back into the middle travel lanes. All the
switching back and forth left everybody worse off than if they had
stayed in a travel lane.

A man on the left shoulder was in water up to mid-calf poking a stick into
the water. I assume he was trying to clear a drain blocked by debris from
the failed retaining wall. Through the Route 20 interchange the median
is the low point. In most of Waltham the right lane is the low point
and is dangerous during rain. In Lexington the left lane usually has
ponding during rain. Today the median was dug up and water flowed into
the work zone instead of flooding the left lane.

Total delay was about 40 minutes. WBZ traffic reports were as helpful
as ever in such cases, which is to say they reported traffic was
slower in that area.

I didn't notice anything on the overhead variable message sign. Most
likely it was flashing the same stupid message all the other signs in
the state were flashing and I ignored it.

The Globe reports:

"State Police said flooding contributed to the closure of two lanes on
Route 95 near Exit 20 in Waltham, reducing travel to only one
southbound lane. A retaining wall collapsed nearby, State Police said,
forcing the closure of a breakdown lane and a right travel lane on
Route 95 south. It was not immediately clear if that incident was
weather-related."

<http://www.boston.com/metrodesk/2012/06/23/weather-service-warns-potential-for-evening-thunderstorms/znaPnBNa6sYQVnhMwYIzyI/story.html>
--
John Carr (***@mit.edu)
John S
2012-06-24 13:55:58 UTC
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Post by John F. Carr
I got caught in a traffic jam today (June 23) caused by flooding on
Route 128 (I-95) at Route 20 in Waltham, Mass. According to the
newspaper a retaining wall collapsed.
Southbound traffic stopped. A bunch of people decided it was only a
mile or two to the Route 20 exit and they could drive there on the
shoulder. The result was five lanes of stopped traffic instead of
four. A MassDOT truck aproached on the shoulder, lights flashing, to
get to work on the flooded section. It took some time for cars to
move to let him through. When he passed cars returned to the
shoulder. A police car (SUV) approached on the shoulder and the cycle
repeated.
Ten or twenty minutes later (a half mile or a mile) I passed a broken
down car on the shoulder. People were shifting into the right lane to
pass it then returning to the shoulder.
Hopefully some additional police arrived to start ticketing the illegal
shoulder drivers. The Waltham police could have even earned some extra
revenue by ticketing the jackasses who were making the problem so much
worse for everyone.
John F. Carr
2012-06-27 15:39:42 UTC
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Post by John S
Hopefully some additional police arrived to start ticketing the illegal
shoulder drivers. The Waltham police could have even earned some extra
revenue by ticketing the jackasses who were making the problem so much
worse for everyone.
Police were too busy doing real work. Plus, it was raining and who
wants to write tickets in the rain?

Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
You'll get a ticket for going 70 on 128, not for racing down a country
lane. And so on.
--
John Carr (***@mit.edu)
george conklin
2012-06-27 19:35:40 UTC
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Post by John F. Carr
Post by John S
Hopefully some additional police arrived to start ticketing the illegal
shoulder drivers. The Waltham police could have even earned some extra
revenue by ticketing the jackasses who were making the problem so much
worse for everyone.
Police were too busy doing real work. Plus, it was raining and who
wants to write tickets in the rain?
Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
You'll get a ticket for going 70 on 128, not for racing down a country
lane. And so on.
Transit buses are driving on the shoulder now legally in NC. They are
out there today practicing doing just that. Since transit buses put as
much wear on the highway as a fully-loaded tractor trailer, and since
shoulders are lightly constructed, this is going to be a royal mess.
Kenny McCormack
2012-06-28 14:32:26 UTC
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In article <***@earthlink.com>,
george conklin <***@earthlink.net> wrote:
...
Post by george conklin
Transit buses are driving on the shoulder now legally in NC. They are
out there today practicing doing just that. Since transit buses put as
much wear on the highway as a fully-loaded tractor trailer, and since
shoulders are lightly constructed, this is going to be a royal mess.
Really? How many 150 lb people does it take to add up to an 80,000 pound
truck? Hmm... Gets out calculator... I think the answer is: 533.

Yup. 'Round here, we regularly see upwards of 500 people on our transit
buses.
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george conklin
2012-06-28 19:58:24 UTC
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Post by Kenny McCormack
...
Post by george conklin
Transit buses are driving on the shoulder now legally in NC. They are
out there today practicing doing just that. Since transit buses put as
much wear on the highway as a fully-loaded tractor trailer, and since
shoulders are lightly constructed, this is going to be a royal mess.
Really? How many 150 lb people does it take to add up to an 80,000 pound
truck? Hmm... Gets out calculator... I think the answer is: 533.
Yup. 'Round here, we regularly see upwards of 500 people on our transit
buses.
You don't know anything about axle loadings. It was established years
ago that the average transit bus does the same damage as a tractor
trailer. It does not assume the bus is loaded more than average.
Paul D. DeRocco
2012-06-29 01:57:11 UTC
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Post by John F. Carr
Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
I think driving on the shoulder is ticketed pretty much everywhere
nowadays. But it's certainly true that there are cultural differences
about this. When I was young, in the Boston area people lots of people
would cheat and drive in the breakdown lane in rush hour. I suspect this
was because it was legal in certain places, like the Southeast
Expressway, and I think a couple of stretches of 128. So in those places
where it wasn't explicitly allowed, people regarded it like speeding,
something that you might as well do, even if there was a risk of getting
caught.
--
Ciao, Paul D. DeRocco
Paul mailto:***@ix.netcom.com
Nathan Perry
2012-07-02 05:23:32 UTC
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Post by Paul D. DeRocco
Post by John F. Carr
Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
I think driving on the shoulder is ticketed pretty much everywhere
nowadays. But it's certainly true that there are cultural differences
about this. When I was young, in the Boston area people lots of people
would cheat and drive in the breakdown lane in rush hour. I suspect this
was because it was legal in certain places, like the Southeast
Expressway, and I think a couple of stretches of 128. So in those places
where it wasn't explicitly allowed, people regarded it like speeding,
something that you might as well do, even if there was a risk of getting
caught.
As I recall, driving in the breakdown lane during rush hour was actually
legal back in the 90s when I lived in Boston (perhaps not on the Waltham
stretch of 128, however). Is it no longer?
John S
2012-07-02 15:19:31 UTC
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Post by Nathan Perry
Post by Paul D. DeRocco
Post by John F. Carr
Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
I think driving on the shoulder is ticketed pretty much everywhere
nowadays. But it's certainly true that there are cultural differences
about this. When I was young, in the Boston area people lots of people
would cheat and drive in the breakdown lane in rush hour. I suspect this
was because it was legal in certain places, like the Southeast
Expressway, and I think a couple of stretches of 128. So in those places
where it wasn't explicitly allowed, people regarded it like speeding,
something that you might as well do, even if there was a risk of getting
caught.
As I recall, driving in the breakdown lane during rush hour was actually
legal back in the 90s when I lived in Boston (perhaps not on the Waltham
stretch of 128, however). Is it no longer?
Driving on the shoulder is only permitted where explicitly permitted,
and only during certain times. That stretch is only along the six lane
portion of I-95, between I-90 and I-93. It is never permitted north of
I-90 (i.e. Waltham). All shoulder driving will go away when the
widening projects are complete and I-95 is a continuous 8 lanes between
I-93 and I-90.

John S
2012-07-02 02:41:37 UTC
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Post by John F. Carr
Post by John S
Hopefully some additional police arrived to start ticketing the illegal
shoulder drivers. The Waltham police could have even earned some extra
revenue by ticketing the jackasses who were making the problem so much
worse for everyone.
Police were too busy doing real work. Plus, it was raining and who
wants to write tickets in the rain?
Driving on the shoulder is ticketed when it doesn't cause problems.
Hopefully this is ticketed before the illegal driver hits somebody
broken down on the shoulder. I recall someone being killed on MA 128 by
this, and a number of serious injuries/deaths when patrol trucks or tow
trucks have been struck.
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