Columbus rush hour traffic: Does going slower get you there faster?

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — We try to avoid rush hour traffic, but according to the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, central Ohio drivers spend some 41 hours a year sitting in traffic.

It’s a growing problem that transportation leaders hope to fix by changing highway speed limits daily or hourly depending on the traffic. It is part of Ohio’s transportation budget that lawmakers have voted on and now sits on the governor’s desk.

“We know that we can’t build our way out of congestion,” said Jerry Wray, Ohio’s Department of Transportation director.

Wray said he believes by lowering speed limits during peak traffic times, it will cut congestion and crashes by up to 30 percent, and research supports that.

“If we can find a way to get everyone going the same speed we can get a lot more through,” Wray added.

The pilot program is for I-670 in Columbus. Speed limits would go from 65 when traffic is running smoothly to 35 when traffic is heavy. The shoulder will serve as extra lane to relieve traffic jams.

Similar programs have been successful in Wisconsin and Minnesota, but Missouri and Georgia programs were plagued with technical problems. Wray believes with proper planning, this could be a solution to stop and go traffic.

“It’s how can we make our system work better,” hesaid.

The pilot programs specifics and speeds may still be tweaked if the program rolls forward. Wray said it will be adjusted to meet Ohio driver’s needs. If it’s successful it will be expanded statewide.

The Governor has 10 days to decide on the transportation budget.

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