Friday, August 10, 2007

Traffic Engineering, another concept for which i am surprised there is a word...

Shortly after arriving in Jordan, I expressed some surprise that there is actually an Arabic word for order or system. I mean, honestly, when going to visit government offices, banks, well any place that deals with the public, there is no order or system. So, perhaps the word is an ideal to which we might aspire. In an irony that surpasses even this, El 3atal and I (in a goofy moment of missing our turn, had the privilege to drive by Jordan's Traffic Engineering Department. I HAD to take a picture (of course). As you probably can't tell (lack of zoom feature on my cell phone), the blue sign beside the road with the arrow indicates that this is the Traffic Engineering Department.

As you also might notice, we're stopped in the middle of one of the worst traffic jams in Jordan :). Based on the design of the road here (2 lanes coming up from a tunnel and two coming down from a circle) merging into 2 lanes total (one of which is blocked by parked cars), I suspect this is always a traffic snag. Traffic Engineering Department indeed!

Happy Traffic Engineering!


At 10:39 PM , Blogger joladies said...

You are so right, road planning here is useless. You can only laugh ruefully sometimes when you see the howlers that are committed. Even those who have not got a clue about designing roads can see where it has gone wrong. Driving up Mecca st they put the bridge that turns left on to Abdullah Ghosheh st to the 7 th circle IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, instead of to the right and over the whole road. Same with the tunnel that turns left up from 7th to 6th though I suppose it is difficult filtering the traffic in the different directions from the tunnel and the circle. And as for the white lines on the road. Must be painted with the cheapest white wash as they are here today and gone tomorrow!! T

At 12:18 AM , Blogger Bilalٍ said...

More than 50% of the solution lies in the hands of traffic officers. Traffic jams, try to analyze the reason behind them is either from cars parking in wrong places or people making some sore of traffic violation. Now, if traffic officers did their work, all these things will stop and traffic will be flowing more freely. Madina Monawara street, Traffic jam for 2 or 3 kilometers, and the reason cars parking double and triple in front of Arafat sweets and other restaurants. Mecca street bridge to Abdullah Ghosheh street, Traffic jam because of cars parking triple infront of Shawerma place. And more and more

At 7:31 AM , Blogger Dave said...

Are you saying that they're not engineering traffic in Jordan? Perhaps they're intentionally engineering it for pure chaos.

At 7:58 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...

T - There is no question that you are correct. Many times I've wanted to introduce the traffic engineers here to the term cloverleaf. On and off ramps that wrap and loop keeping traffic moving while getting to destinations not on a straight-away.

Bilal - We agree for sure. However, let's distinguish, what we do NOT need is traffic cops stopping moving traffic on circles and such.

Dave - I will admit I had not considered this. Given the outcome it does seem to be the most likely explanation!

At 7:55 AM , Blogger Osaid Rasheed said...


At 7:24 AM , Blogger Ayman said...

I can't believe that I missed this post...You guys really dug into the technical lingo (cloverleaf? lol).

Let me first agree that it's complete chaos on Amman's streets. Design and traffic control plans (or lack of) do contribute significantly to this problem. However, as Bilal mentioned the human factor (drivers and pedestrians) are the real culprits. Enforcement is only one strategy of what should be an integrated approach that also includes: Engineering, Education (often referred to as the 3 E’s of traffic engineering).

As for the cloverleaf design, it has proved useless in urban environments (and hence you see Ram Meters on most interchange ramps in large U.S urban areas). In addition, this type of interchange design requires enormous areas of land to accommodate the loops. With land prices and unavailability in Amman they are infeasible.

Truth to be said, the GAM has done many innovative projects (especially with the use of grade separation and tunnels). Otherwise, traffic would be much worse. If we can get the drivers to cooperate a little, the system capacity would be greatly enhanced.

Happy driving!

At 10:42 PM , Blogger MommaBean said...


Thanks for coming. Your comments were a great addition to the conversation and you make several good points. There is no question (and it seems 40% of my blog is dedicated to) the human factor. It is appalling. However, I can assure you that the cloverleaf, when well designed (many in the US aren't) are very efficient for moving volumes of traffic through quickly. Oh, and I am not attempting to say at all that the US is the model of traffic planning. Most cities there are 20 years behind in planning na building the roads. And, is takes them 5 years to build a road that in Amman would take less than one...

I generally really like and am impressed by the tunnels and circles over (except that there aren't enough of them). However, there again you see poor decisions like having U turns at only some of them, so you have to load more traffic onto the circle to make a U turn from one direction only :). But, there's no question traffic is a bear of a problem. Sadly, they just changed the license plates so that they can get 10 million! With less than half of that, the streets can't handle it, just where do they think they're going to put these cars? On poorly designed streets, with inadequate parking, that are already overcrowded I suppose. I look forward to walking everywhere in coming years :).


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