Last year, traffic engineers experimented with a variety of changes, including closing an Interstate 20 ramp for several hours every morning, using the revamped Alexander Drive and incorporating the city’s new adaptive traffic signals.
“Last year was great,” said Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell. “This is the first year we’re not reacting to something.”
The past two years officials were dealing with major changes to the traffic plan with the new use of Alexander Drive and one-way traffic on Berckman’s Road in 2011. Both proved successful and are incorporated into this year’s plan.
About 80,000 vehicles will travel daily through the Masters area of Washington Road during the week, with the majority hitting that vicinity between 6:45 and 9:30 a.m.
Cassell said staying ahead of the congestion, instead of reacting to it, is the key.
Shutting down the eastbound onramp from I-20 to Washington Road everyday from 7:30 to 10 a.m. helped achieve that last year. Engineers plan to stick to that plan this Masters.
During the hours of closure, traffic will be directed down to the next ramp at River Watch Parkway.
One-way traffic on Berckmans Road will remain the same, but will start slightly later at 4 p.m., rather than 3:30 p.m., this year. The earlier closure in previous years was unnecessary, Cassell said. This week residents along Berckmans Road will receive about 3,000 passes that will let them use the road.
Alexander Drive will be in full-use this year. In 2012, engineers were concerned with traffic backing up onto Riverwatch Parkway, but after a week, they learned the hardest task was convincing drivers to use the road.
To prevent traffic back-up, engineers will make the normal left-turn lane onto Washington Road from Alexander Drive into a through lane onto Stanley Drive.
“Having that extra lane really helps,” Cassell said. “It backed up but it never got to River Watch Parkway. It never got halfway there.”
Overall, the Alexander Drive route cuts down on travel time, compared to the old route through downtown.
The majority of traffic from River Watch will be directed down Alexander Drive; however, Cassell said, drivers can still go through downtown if they chose. Signage will be available for both places so there will be an option if a backup does occur.
Engineers will continue to use message boards along major routes, adaptive traffic signals and the use of the county’s traffic cameras installed in major intersections to alleviate traffic headaches throughout the week.
Golf traffic signs and message boards are expected to start going up on roadsides sometime this week.