December 09, 2021
Now that we are in the Christmas season, I have noticed the usual traffic delays are back again. I did not get out as much last year to experience the delays that normally come with the season. It was reported on the newscasts that there were fewer people out last year, and the normal road delays were not as acute. There are several streets in the city near us that Melissa does not like to travel in normal traffic, and she refuses to drive them during the holidays. I noticed the city has placed electronic traffic billboards along these routes encouraging people to “put it down and drive,” and to “pay attention to the road.” The roads are still bottlenecks and delays as people jockey for position between the traffic lights and trying to enter and exit the stores and restaurants that line both sides of the streets.
Traffic management is a key branch of logistics, and concerns “the planning, control, and purchasing of transport services needed to physically move vehicles and freight as smoothly as possible without delays.” Cities use traffic management concepts on the streets and roads to organize, arrange, guide, and control both stationary (parked) and moving traffic. This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, and all types of vehicles. The aim is to provide the safe, orderly, and efficient movement of persons and goods, and where possible to protect and enhance the quality of the local environment on and adjacent to traffic. When I checked online, I found our city’s traffic control department is comprised of seven different programs. In general, the department is responsible for repairing and maintaining City streets and drainage system, is responsible for the repair and construction of sidewalks, and maintenance of traffic signals and street signs. That is a large task even in small cities. It is no wonder delays occur.
As I sat in line last week at the drive through to our local pharmacy I met with delays. It is usually a quick wait and the young girls who usually people the window will ask cars to pull around if there are going to be any delays in getting the prescription filled. That day there appeared to be supply chain problems. I pulled around the corner to find I was the fourth car in line. I waited nearly ten minutes for each car to pull away in front of me. By the time I got to the window there were three cars behind me, and that did not count the three cars that chose to squeak by rather than wait in the delays caused by the line. When I got to the window, I noticed they had a new, older person working. I gave her my information and then waited nearly ten minutes as she walked the 20 steps back to the pharmacy and retrieved my prescription. I assumed they must be having logistics problems. Or maybe it is just the Christmas delays.
Thoughts: When I worked for the State of Utah, I took a trip to Denver with a group of Department of Transportation (DOT) engineers to discuss a statewide project with the USDOT office located there. Riding in from the airport I was admiring all the different types of houses located along the route. My colleagues were instead marveling at the overpasses and cloverleafs we passed along the way. People really do get excited about different things. Listening to the engineers talk provided insights that I later used to improve relations with them on other projects. When we listen and then use the knowledge gain to build connections with others cooperation becomes easier. Do the work. Follow the science. Change is coming and it starts with you.