Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Traffic Engineering: Saving the world one turn lane at a time.
Hardey Engineering and Assoc.

“You hit the brakes for a second, just tap them on the freeway, you can literally track the ripple effect of that action across a two-hundred-mile stretch of road, because traffic has a memory. It’s amazing. It’s like a living organism.” - Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), in his cover job as a traffic engineer in Mission: Impossible III.

I had to laugh as I heard this line in the movie. So many times while on a traffic count I had let my imagination run away with me. Instead of sitting in my truck for a 4 hours on a  grueling count of a suburban intersection, I was on stakeout. The placard in the window stating "Traffic Count in Progress" and the phone number of my employer, Hardey Engineering, were fake, a cover to distract passers-by.

It had to be more interesting that punching buttons on a glorified calculator, recording a sampling of left turns.

While watching "The Bourne Legacy" I had another flashback: sitting in front of two TV monitors with a cold pizza, watching a pre-recorded pair of intersections, tracking which cars passed through both, running the tapes back and forth.  In the movie, there were some grunt investigators doing the same thing to the traffic cameras, searching for the suspect's car.

Traffic Engineering: it's the perfect cover!

That's a Radar-gun.
Very few people actually know what it is.

Traffic Engineering is a unique blend of pairing the applied science of Engineering to the human decision-making process.  Not only do we predict present and future behavior, then we apply that flow to the roads and streets, to head off future problems.

Like water systems, traffic systems can only handle so many cars, and when that hits the maximum capacity, we get gridlock, accidents, and road rage.

Our job is to determine how much the system can handle, and how to improve the capacity. One of the tools we use is a traffic modeling simulator.

Like SimCity Traffic, but more math, and lamer graphics. 

Are you building a new subdivision? Do you need approval? We can tell you how many vehicle trips you'll generate,  how to make sure the neighborhood stays safe, and how to keep the neighbors happy.

Are you investing in a commercial shopping center? We can help you get your customers in and out of the building efficiently.  

Are you planning a Zone Change? Traffic Impact Studies help things so much smoother with the planning departments.

Do you need to save the world from the latest cyber-attack? Don't worry about it. We're already on the job.

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