Legislator: Put stop-and-go traffic signals on Merritt Parkway entrances


A legislator has proposed a bill to better control traffic on the Merritt Parkway by installing control signals on entrance ramps.

The legislation would put in control signals to time traffic entry at entrance ramps (“ramp meters”) on the Merritt Parkway, as well as impose reduced speed limits as appropriate. These measures would presumably be in use during high traffic time periods.

The bill, HB-5385: An Act Concerning Traffic Flow on the Merritt Parkway, has been introduced by state Rep. John Shaban, a Republican from Redding. Shaban recently testified before the state legislature’s Transportation Committee in support of his proposed bill.

Stop-and-go traffic signals

Ramp meters are stop-and-go traffic signals that time and regulate the entry of traffic on a roadway.

The main goal of ramp metering — which was first implemented in Chicago in 1963 and has since been used in numerous urban areas with chronic traffic problems — is to control traffic flow, improve safety and reduce travel time for commuters. Ramp meters are quite common in southern California.

“This practice has proven successful over the last 50 years,” Shaban said.

He pointed to a 2010 Louisiana Department of Transportation study that showed ramp meters reduced overall traffic by 15% (and 19% during rush hour), reduced accidents by 8.3% (and 34.3% during rush hour), and improved travel speeds by 4 mph. (and 7 mph during rush hour).

Similarly, ramp metering resulted in a 40% reduction in overall travel time on a crowded Washington state interstate highway.

Costs about $200,000 per location

“Notably, the estimated cost of installing five metered ramps is just over $1 million,” Shaban said. “This gives us the opportunity to bring a relatively quick, effective and inexpensive solution to bear, while we vet the other multi-billion proposals that might help many, many years from now.”

The bill is still before the Transportation Committee, which is responsible for addressing issues regarding highways and bridges, mass transit, railroads, navigation and aeronautics. If passed out of committee, the bill could come before the entire legislature before session ends in June.