Across the Country
Ramp meters are new to the Kansas City area, but metropolitan communities that are
located across the county including Milwaukee, Portland, Seattle-Tacoma, Phoenix,
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, and more have been using them for some time and are
benefiting from ramp metering programs in a number of ways.
Ramp metering programs have been successfully implemented across the country. The
I-435 ramp meters are the newest addition to the KC Scout system and are the first
in the Kansas City Metro Area. Installation of the meters on I-435 introduced the
concept of ramp metering to Kansas City drivers. Successful implementation of the
program could lead to the installation of ramp meters on other Kansas City freeways.
Congestion happens when groups of cars enter the freeway and compete for openings
in the mainline flow of traffic. Merging is more difficult and more challenging
for drivers if ramps are close together or if acceleration and deceleration lanes
are short. Sideswipe and rear-end accidents can be the result. Ramp metering improves
safety by decreasing accidents. According to the Federal Highway Administration:
- Seattle's ramp meters decreased the overall accident rate by 39%.
- Portland's reduced the peak period accidents 43%.
- More consistent traffic flows.
- Minneapolis' lowered peak period accidents 24%.
- Denver's meters cut rear-end and side-swipe accidents 50%.
Even if freeways are not congested, seven or eight vehicles merging onto the freeway
at the same time can be an issue for motorists. Ramp meters decrease the number
of sudden weaving and braking movements. By regulating the flow of the cars, ramp
meters allow more vehicles to use the freeway, improve freeway speeds, and lower
travel times. Information from the Federal Highway Administration indicates:
- Denverâ€™s meters have increased rush hour travel speeds 57% and decreased travel
- Seattleâ€™s meters have lowered average travel times 52%.
- Ramp meters in Minneapolis increased rush hour volumes 25%.
A Better Environment
Roadways can move traffic and benefit the environment at the same time. When they
promote smoother traffic flow and allow drivers to drive at or near the posted speed
limit, roadways reduce the amount of vehicle pollutants that are released into the
air and make less of a contribution to existing ozone levels. Ramp meters help lower
vehicle emissions and fuel consumption by decreasing the time that cars spend waiting
in traffic. Any time spent waiting on freeway on-ramps is made up in travel time
savings once on the freeway.