Hurrah for Jarvis Klapman!

Look at those beautiful green lines of flowing traffic!

Look at those beautiful green lines of flowing traffic!

The story on the front page of The State about flood-related traffic jams seemed a bit out of sync to me (although I understand plenty of others continue to have trouble), because I read it right after my easiest crossing of the river since the floods.

Opening Jarvis Klapman really made a huge difference. I left the house worried that I was going to be late because I had less than an hour to get downtown… and it was a breeze. I couldn’t believe how well things were flowing on Sunset, until I saw the reason why — cars whizzing overhead on the Jarvis Klapman overpass.

You really don’t appreciate a simple thing like having a 15-20-minute commute until you lose it for a few days. And I would never have thought that closing Jarvis Klapman — which is never particularly crowded — would turn Gervais, Meeting, Sunset, Knox Abbott and Blossom into parking lots at rush hour.

So I’m happy.

How are y’all’s traffic situations going?

42 thoughts on “Hurrah for Jarvis Klapman!

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    It’s rather obvious that satellite picture isn’t in real time (although the green traffic flow lines are) — there’s water in the canal…

  2. susanincola

    Glad to hear it. I’m hemmed in between Forest, Trenholm and Beltline, and it’s just a parking lot on Forest most of the day right now. But they’re working hard on the Forest blockage, so it hopefully we’ll get better soon. And that’s nothing compared to those poor folks out Monticello who have to go 30 minutes or more out of their way to do pretty much anything.
    I think one good thing that will come from this is that people will take the importance of maintaining our infrastructure much more seriously than they did before. I know I will!

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Wow, did I celebrate too soon!

      I went to Whole Foods to pick up some lunch today. First, I couldn’t approach it via Jackson Blvd. Then, I figured that since I had go out the Crosshill exit from the parking lot, I’d take that to Forest and get back to the office that way. Beltline was blocked completely. So I turned and went the other way, and dropped by the Lizard’s Thicket to get some coffee to go with my sushi.

      Then I had to deal with pretty heavy traffic on Beltline to get back to Devine, and right after I got on Devine, WHAM, I hit a new pothole (about two feet in diameter and at least six inches deep) that practically rattled my teeth out of head and did who knows what kind of damage to my car.

      Yep. We still have a LOT of problems…

      1. Doug Ross

        While not immune from the traffic issues caused by the storm, this is why many of choose to live out in the suburbs.

        Ironically, one of the roads that is in the worst shape in Blythewood is the one that was closed for many months last year to straighten out a curve that wasn’t really that bad. They wasted a lot of time and money on that less-than-critical stretch of road.

      2. Doug Ross

        ” I hit a new pothole (about two feet in diameter and at least six inches deep) that practically rattled my teeth out of head and did who knows what kind of damage to my car.”

        But you don’t want to use the penny tax money to fix these things? Wasn’t that part of the marketing hype for the tax – that it would go to repairing potholes?

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I don’t know — was it? I thought it was sold on the basis of doing a list of specific things…

          It’s been awhile now since the vote, so I may be remembering wrong.

          But I don’t see a specific fund raised for particular capital projects (and bus operations, which was the part that made me for it) as being in any way a substitute for adequate funding for basic maintenance of existing roads…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Oh, but I am reminded… speaking of public transportation needs…

            Remember how you complained about Honolulu traffic? I just heard on NPR that they’re about to get light rail — an elevated train to run between downtown and the airport and other points.

            Cool. I’m picturing something awesome like the Skytrain in Bangkok, and I’m jealous…

            1. Doug Ross

              What difference does light rail make on traffic? Name a city, any city, with light rail and then describe the traffic situation. D.C., NYC, San Fran, Boston, even Charlotte — all terrible traffic. Honolulu will be no different. Most people prefer the freedom a car gives you even if it means sitting in traffic.

              1. Norm Ivey

                Heavy traffic is the reason they have mass transit, not the cause. Without it, wouldn’t it be worse?

                1. Doug Ross

                  Brad presented the news of light rail in Honolulu as if it would make a difference in their traffic situation. It won’t. Unless you cut the number of cars DRASTICALLY, it will just be a very, very expensive band aid. Six lanes of traffic heading into and out of the city (including drivers in the breakdown lane) isn’t going to be fixed by trains. It will create some new congestion points around the train stations.

              2. Mark Stewart


                Every city, town, village, crossroads worth living in has traffic. It is axiomatic. Ever been to Yosemite, Yellowstone, Glacier, Blue Ridge, Rocky Mountian, Gettysberg, etc National Parks? What made you such a Debbie-downer?

                Mass transit does something the auto can’t do: it enables densification. That enables urban environments to function at a high pace and be distinct from the surbarban malaise of the auto-scaled world.

                It isn’t simply a question of would there be more traffic without mass transit. That is missing the point entirely.

                You may enjoy sitting in your car stuck in traffic. I don’t. It is something I have to but up with because, as you said, sometimes there is no good alternative. I am not sure I would go so far as to call that “freedom.”

                1. Bryan Caskey

                  “Mass transit does something the auto can’t do: it enables densification.”

                  I’m assuming by densification, you mean population density. But I would kind of turn it around and say that mass transit requires a high population density, rather than enabling it.

                2. Doug Ross

                  Actually, I don’t sit in a car. I hate traffic. Since I travel for work, I stay in a hotel as close to my workplace as possible. I also telecommute whenever I can.

                  Most choose to sit in cars for simple reasons: they don’t want to be on a schedule; they don’t want to stand up for X minutes on the train; they don’t want to be jammed in with people of all types/odors;

                  Densification doesn’t mean better by any stretch. It is trading one thing for another. It’s a choice. To suggest that urban is better than some imagined suburban “malaise” makes no sense. People CHOOSE to live in the suburbs for a reason – because they find the lifestyle better than the urban lifestyle.

                  Oh, and I’ve been to all the National Parks you mentioned. I was in Yellowstone a month ago and two years ago, Yosemite last year, Glacier three years ago. There may be some traffic in the middle of summer in Yellowstone in some of the prime tourist areas but we encountered no traffic in September – unless you count the herd of bison crossing the road that held up traffic for 10 minutes.

                3. Doug Ross

                  And why call me a Debby Downer for pointing out that light rail isn’t going to change the traffic situation in Honolulu? I was there in April. I saw the construction of the light rail and where it was located – I drove alongside it for a few miles. It gets people from point A to point B. If you aren’t within walking distance of point A or need to go within walking distance of point B, it just creates some new congestion points at the start and the need for taxis, Uber, etc. on the other end. It’s not a solution to any traffic issues.

                4. Norm Ivey

                  I agree that using mass transit requires adherence to a schedule–it’s the reason I don’t use the Comet. Personal transportation is more convenient for all of the reasons Doug points out. And it does reduce the number of vehicles on the streets. Every person on a bus is one less car on the streets. More important (for me, at least) is that mass transit is more environmentally responsible. It take less energy to transport a dozen people on a bus than to transport those same people in a dozen cars. And light rail is even more efficient (though less convenient because of limited routes).

                  Population density allows for economies of scale in areas other than transportation including utility and other public services. Determining which is “better”–urban, suburban or rural–really depends on what your criteria are.

          2. Doug Ross

            There were specific marketing materials that referenced the amount of money that would be saved on repairs by fixing the roads. The number was some ridiculous figure like $357 per driver. It was the same b.s. that said the penny tax would create 16,000 jobs. Do we have a count on where we stand with the 16,000 so far?

            1. Doug Ross

              This from the Citizens for a Greater Midlands website on why the penny tax should have been passed:

              “Deteriorating roads cost the average motorist $281 per year in additional vehicle operating costs. The penny will only cost the average household less than $100 per year.”

              “Over 16,500 new jobs will be created as a result of the penny.”

              “Average travel speed per commuter will increase by 10% — roughly 4.9 miles per hour.”

              Does anyone believe ANY of those lies?

  3. Karen Pearson

    Anyone who wants to use Rabon Road is out of luck, and I fear that it won’t be fixed anytime soon. At least a work around only takes me about 10 extra minutes. My beef is that I can’t use my Garmin to get from one place to another over there because it’s bound and determined to use Rabon. But my problems are minimal compared to most people. I keep praying for those in towns east of us who are still completely cut off.

  4. Norm Ivey

    All of the traffic that normally runs up Decker (and it’s a LOT of cars) has to detour around on Trenholm extension and O’Neil Court extension, causing those to have much more traffic than normal. With Rockbridge out, Trenholm traffic is heavier. Polo is out and Percival is blocked somewhere which redirects drivers to Two Notch. My bride travels from school to school, and we’re having to study the road closures map every morning to figure out how she needs to get around.

    You don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone.

  5. Phillip

    Let me just say that what the penny tax has done for our city buses has been in my own personal experience, terrific. Two buses an hour is a huge difference from one an hour, and the buses are always quite full on my route. Moreover, though what USC hath wrought in the Blossom/Main/Assembly area has made things often a mess driving and parking-wise, I at least am not contributing to the mess, as I’m now able to conveniently take the bus to and from work.

    1. Norm Ivey

      They reinstated the route down Two Notch and out to Sandhills. The buses still aren’t full, but they clearly have more riders than before, which is heartening. The schedules don’t quite work for me. The earliest departure from Sandhills is 6:30, and I’m usually already at work by then.

  6. Mike Cakora

    Moving around Forest Acres during the day is painful because of the heavier than “normal” traffic. It will stay that way for some time, at least until all lanes of Forest Drive and other main thoroughfares are restored. Can the DOT and local jurisdictions coordinate short-term activities – fixing potholes with a quick patch – with longer term activities such as bridge repair, thoroughfare, and such?

    We’ll see.

  7. Bob Amundson

    Salt Lake City built a Light Rail line early in this century for the 2002 Winter Olympics (being there was WAY COOL). Much of the funding came from the Federal Government and the Salt Lake Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games of 2002. Many people thought Light Rail would not work (mostly for reasons Doug has articulated). Turns out Salt Lake City residents decided sitting in traffic gridlock on I-15 and I-80 was a waste of time, and the Utah Transit Authority has expanded Light Rail, mostly by local funding, because people love it. Sitting on a Transit Car and using your smart phone beats sitting in gridlock

    I’m not sure there is enough gridlock in the Columbia Metro Area YET to have an immediate return on investment for Light Rail. But to me, Light Rail makes more sense than pouring more concrete.

    1. Doug Ross

      I worked in Sandy UT for three months in 2011. The traffic in Salt Lake is nothing close to other larger cities. I don’t question that light rail has some value for some people. I just don’t see it as a cure. There is also a big difference that impacts Honolulu traffic – the city is on the ocean. That limits the options on routing traffic.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Right, Doug. In Honolulu you’ve got the ocean on one side of you and the steep, sharp rise of the mountains on the other. It’s a fairly narrow channel.

        But I think you’re underestimating what taking just a little pressure off via light rail can do.

        Crossing the Congaree into downtown is also a narrow channel; there are only four convenient ways to do it. As I said above, I wouldn’t have thought Jarvis Klapman handled all that much traffic. When I’m on it, I never get a sense of being in a lot of traffic until I cross the river and get to Huger.

        But wow, the difference that one additional channel makes is the difference between standing still and flowing smoothly. It’s amazing.

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Also, I feel bad that you had such a bad experience with Honolulu traffic. I don’t remember it being bad when I was there in March. Of course, I had just come from Bangkok, where the traffic situation is so horrendous as to defy description. I would not have dared to try to drive in Thailand. But we got around fairly easily in our rented Corolla on Oahu…

        1. Doug Ross

          Where did you drive in Honolulu and at what time of day? We did a week there and went out during regular commuting hours. Did you do that?

          1. Doug Ross

            I will gladly defer to Burl’s expert local opinion on the light rail system. If he says it will help alleviate the traffic issues, I’ll retract my opinion.

            1. Brad Warthen Post author

              Of course, if I remember correctly, Burl doesn’t have to deal with the particular traffic problem that we’re discussing here, at least not on a daily basis. He completely bypasses it by taking the new H3 over the mountains from his home in Kailua.

              It bypasses Honolulu — the city is on the opposite side of the mountains for most of his route — and takes him straight to Pearl Harbor.

              His wife, however, still works at the newspaper and has to go downtown…

              1. Doug Ross

                Yes, H3 is a beautiful road through the mountains.. until it hits Honolulu’s version of Malfunction Junction where H1, H2, and H3 all join together west of Honolulu within a few mile stretch.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            And Doug, as to when I drove in Hawaii on the recent trip…

            It was mostly Saturday and Sunday. On Monday, we didn’t leave the hotel until after rush hour in the morning. Of course, the traffic was heavier on Monday, and it may have had an impact on my decision not to drive out to Barber’s Point to see my old surfing spot.

            Still, we got quite a bit done before we had to be at the airport at midafternoon for the flight home: We drove out past my old high school to the neighborhood where I lived to look at my old house (it was on a steep hill, and the back yard overlooked Pearl Harbor a couple of miles away), then we went back to the opposite side of downtown to eat some pig and poi at Ono’s Hawaiian Foods.

            Then we drove by the old Honolulu International Center (it’s called something else now), where we had our high school graduation and where I went for concerts (Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Berry at the start of his comeback), and drove past just to look at Iolani Palace.

            Then I got gas and we went back to turn in the car…

      3. Brad Warthen Post author


        Speaking of Bangkok traffic…

        One of my favorite pictures I took in Thailand was this one of a group of proverbial Asian tourists with cameras enthusiastically photographing traffic in a popular downtown shopping district of Bangkok. This was on a pedestrian overpass that led between the malls and the Skytrain, as I recall.

        I’m not sure what made this particular shot SO fascinating to them. It was a nice shot, but not THAT great. It was right at dusk, and maybe all the lights of the cars and the signage on the malls produced an effect they liked. The place was a little like a Thai version of Times Square, so I guess that was it. But this particular angle didn’t seem like the most interesting to me. I kept thinking I was missing something that was obvious to them.

        Which, of course, invokes all kinds of cliches about East and West, and inscrutability, and other things that lead us to stereotype, you know, Asians with cameras…

        A theory: I wondered whether they were a photography class, and this shot was their assignment. Maybe I should have tapped one on the shoulder and asked (with gestures, I guess) whether I could look through his viewfinder and see it as he saw it…

          1. Brad Warthen Post author


            Like maybe Tokyo.

            Even with great mass transit, you can find yourself waiting in the queue. My daughter sent me the above picture yesterday that she had just snapped at a Tokyo subway station. See the lines waiting to get on the next train? This is not rush hour or even during the working day. This is just past midnight on Sunday night. Note the clock…

  8. Burl Burlingame

    Doug had the great bad fortune to hit Honolulu traffic on a day when the multi-lane system broke down, creating the worst traffic jam in something like ten years. It’s really not fair to imagine it’s like that every day. It isn’t.

    Yes, we have jams where traffic moves slowly. Sometimes very slowly. Our good fortune comes from the fact that we don’t have to go very far. You might be moving at ten miles an hour, but virtually all of your destinations are within ten miles. I was MUCH more frustrated in daily traffic in New York City this summer.

    We also have special problems. The chemicals that cars drip onto highways runs off with rainwater and into the ocean, killing coral and fish. Our intersections are actually designed as much as possible as giant, grassy filters for the runoff. Also, our gas prices are pretty high. On the other hand, we’re pretty much an ideal location for electric vehicles.

    The next car I buy will be an Elio. I’m on the waiting list.

    The “light rail” system being installed connects the primary urban centers of Honolulu and Kapolei, with major junctions at the airport and the stadium/Pearl Harbor area. It’s primarily aimed at work commuters, students and tourists.

    Our system was hotly debated for years, and should have been already up and running for now. There is no doubt it will be used by thousands of people and provide urban mobility for many. Will it replace cars? Not bloody likely, mate.

    My personal beef with the system as designed is primarily technical and engineering-related. The “steel-on-steel” rail systems has enormous power savings. It takes relatively few ergs to move massive amounts of weight …


    If one element of the system goes down, the whole system goes down. We won’t have alternate tracks. Also, the power savings come from moving loads over distance. With our relatively short hops between stations, we’re more like an elevated subway than a rail system, and the power savings are squandered in speeding up and slowing down constantly.

    Also, it makes it difficult to introduce technical improvements.

    I would have preferred the “elevated guideway” concept, which is essentially a couple of dedicated highway lanes riding over the rest of us, and limited to busses (and emergency vehicles). If one bus goes down, the system stays open. If an improved bus technology becomes available, you just add it to the route. An elevated guideway provides both technological flexibility and freedom from that slow driver sitting in front of you.

  9. Burl Burlingame

    We also don’t have the luxury of alternate routes. When I stayed in Gettysburg this summer, I was amazed at all the routes nan out of the town. Of course, Marse Lee saw it that way too.

    BTW, Waze is a good phone app to monitor traffic situations.

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