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No carmageddon during I-90 closure proves my traffic solution could work

Even with lane closures on I-90, we didn't see horrible traffic volumes. Dori Monson has a plan to keep it like this all the time. (AP Photo/file)

Taken from The Dori Monson Showon KIRO Radio.

The I-90 predicted nightmare carmageddon didn’t really happen. Why didn’t it happen? Because of something that we’ve been talking about for years on this show.

I did a study about 10 years ago. I’d observed that on the Friday before a three-day weekend, when Monday is the holiday, that morning rush hour is no traffic problem at all. So what I did was I got the car count from the DOT.

What we found was that on the Friday before a three-day weekend, about 10 percent of the people take that Friday off, so they can make it into a four-day weekend. It appeared when you remove 10 percent of the cars from the road, you went from gridlock to free-flowing traffic.

Then, I started talking with traffic engineers and discovered that seemed to be about the magic number: If you get a 10 percent reduction in cars, you get free-flowing traffic.

That was the basis of something I’ve been talking about for as long as I’ve been on the air. What I’ve said is, they could improve the traffic dramatically if they focused on a couple of things. One is time shifting.

What we’ve been proposing for over a decade now is that government should move all government workers who don’t deal with the public 9 to 5, the paper shufflers who make up the vast majority of government workers, put them all on swing shift or graveyard shift.

I always get horribly angry emails from government workers, saying we have families too. Fine, then find a private sector job that works better for your schedule. But there is no reason that hundreds of thousands of government workers should work a 9 to 5 schedule.

Since almost 20 percent of the workforce is government workers, if you got half of them working swing and graveyards, and got them off the roads, we’d go from gridlock to free flowing. You just tell the government workers that is a condition of your employment. You want the government job that has much better benefits than anything you can find in the private sector? One of the things you’re going to have to trade off is you’re going to have to work swing or graveyard.

Another way that is almost zero cost, is to start providing companies an incentive. Make sure that all of the Starbucks workers work at the outlet that is closest to where they live, minimizing their travel time. You could potentially provide tax breaks to people who shift to swing and graveyard shifts.

Now, here is the problem: without the traffic, they don’t have a way to leverage huge light rail projects or the tunnel project that are billions of dollars. All these things are about just getting as much money from us as possible. That’s why I always say the DOT and government are not about mobility, it’s about getting as much of our money as possible.

I have been presenting, for a decade, a completely free way to free up the roadways by just shifting government workers. They don’t do it because they don’t want to save that money.

Taken from The Dori Monson Showon KIRO Radio.

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