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We're in a Jam

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  • Ronald Dawson
    From http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian/issues01/apr01/traffic.html Dawson Smithsonian Magazine April 2001 We re in a Jam Easing the nation s growing
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 28, 2001
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      From http://www.smithsonianmag.com/smithsonian/issues01/apr01/traffic.html
      Smithsonian Magazine April 2001

      We're in a Jam

      Easing the nation's growing traffic congestion has experts all backed up

      Consider how traffic bedevils modern America: we collectively waste more
      than 4.6 billion hours stuck in traffic and burn enough gas to fill 134
      supertankers each year. One study suggests that parents spend twice as much
      time behind the wheel during the week as they do with their children. Viewed
      merely as a physical flow, a traffic jam seems as simple as water moving
      more slowly through a constriction—a problem that appears easy to fix. But
      even adding a lane to a highway, for reasons no one quite understands,
      sometimes creates new tie-ups. For decades, the behavior of heavy traffic
      has stymied a think tank's worth of highway engineers, city planners, fluid
      dynamicists and social scientists. Traffic, like weather and the stock
      market, turns out to be surprisingly complex and devilishly unpredictable.

      To learn about the cutting edge weapons in the battle against traffic
      congestion, writer Doug Stewart travels with a police aggressive-driving
      patrol, installs the latest traffic jam avoidance software in his car, flies
      over Atlanta's infamous Spaghetti Junction and visits the Los Alamos
      National Laboratory in New Mexico, where scientists have developed a
      simulation program that will be available to city planners in the near
      future. High-tech improvements may indeed help reduce traffic congestion
      somewhat, he learns, but it appears that congestion is an unavoidable part
      of modern life.

      Perhaps, suggests the author, we don't even mind traffic tie-ups that much.
      "The car is less a form of transportation now and more an extension of the
      living room," says Sam Schwartz, a former New York City traffic

      Abstract of an article by Doug Stewart, originally published in the April
      2001 issue of Smithsonian.
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