It seems as though not a day can go by without an article or comment appearing in the paper regarding the necessity of a light-rail system. I and a great many others are tired of having this issue jammed down our throats. For the record, light rail is old and expensive technology. While proponents will continue to make claims and show “projected” performance numbers, the reality is that it will fall way short of their predictions. In the end it will become nothing more than a “black hole” that will suck millions and millions of dollars from county citizens.
I agree wholeheartedly that we do have a problem moving vehicles within Hillsborough County, and I believe there is a common denominator to this problem: traffic signals. They are on every corner and intersection, and it is this proliferation that is causing the problem. They do not talk to one another. They go about their business totally oblivious to any other signals and traffic conditions.
We all see this every day we travel on these roadways: Traveling down any major thoroughfare, one goes from a red to a red, then to a green to a red, and so on, moving very little traffic. Let us not forget making a simple left-hand turn. After sitting in the stacking lane for what seems to be an eternity, the arrow illuminates and three cars get through the intersection, and then the dreaded red light. Now one has to sit through an entire cycle yet again.
Why can’t there be a green light so traffic permitting, one can still make a left turn? Morning rush hour can be dampened by the “ghost vehicle” — you know, when the signal stops traffic on a major roadway to allow a side road to go and there is no vehicle present. Why can’t the signal realize the vehicle has gone and then reset itself to not stop major roadway traffic as it is now not needed? Is it any wonder that during evening rush hour the interstate is so congested?
Typically, when coming off the interstate and especially when making a left turn, one encounters two to four traffic signals. Nobody going anywhere fast! Coming home late from a meeting or event and one inevitably encounters that traffic signal on a lonely side road that makes one wait for the entire cycle (no one on the road for miles) and then it finally turns green. Why aren’t a great many of these lights in flashing mode after evening rush hour until morning rush hour, when they can begin serving their intended function? There are more examples, but I believe you get the idea.
Any amount spent to update/upgrade the traffic signal control system in order to minimize those issues and any others will make a gigantic improvement in the lives of a great many people who travel the roadways. Billions of dollars spent on light rail will only benefit a small select group of privileged individuals.