Friday, July 8, 2011

Room for Debate on Full Versus Partial Road Closures for Repair

The NY Times' Room for Debate hosts a discussion about the merits of full road closure for repair and construction versus piecemeal approaches. There isn't much debate as everyone pretty much says close the whole road and get it over with faster and at less cost. The public can handle a few days of severe disruption.
A Times article described the commotion in Los Angeles over the complete shutdown of one of its busiest freeways for repairs. "It's going to be a mess," said Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa of the 53-hour closing of Interstate 405 that begins in a week.

In New York City, highway repairs are usually done piecemeal, with single lanes or segments of lanes closed but at least part of the road left open to traffic. Sometimes that leaves one lane smooth and pothole free, while the adjacent one resembles a pocked lunar landscape.

Why doesn't New York City adopt the Los Angeles strategy? Would it be feasible to completely close several miles of a major city highway, like the Brooklyn-Queens, Gowanus or Major Deegan Expressways, for major repair work? Would such a short shutdown be less disruptive in the long run than frequent closings for resurfacing on a single lane or section of a lane, or for pothole filling and patchwork?

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