Thursday night’s fire and bridge collapse in Atlanta will cause a significant transportation crisis.
A Virginia Tech expert who specializes in disruptions and coordinated restoration of transportation infrastructure says the broader community will need to play a role in the short term to help mitigate congestion.
Pamela Murray-Tuite, a Virginia Tech professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, says telecommuting and flexible scheduling of work hours will allow travel to spread out in time. “In the longer term, a major challenge is the time it takes to design and build a bridge,” she said.
“People are adaptable. They may adjust many aspects of their travel including departure time, routes, transportation means, and destinations. Previous research suggests that departure time and routes are the more preferred travel changes. However, in the short term, discretionary trips may be canceled or postponed and some trips, such as shopping, may be conducted closer, requiring less travel distance.”
Murray-Tuite points to lessons learned from two similar disruptions of major highway systems. In 2007, a tanker truck accident caused the collapse of a freeway structure near Oakland, California. Later that same year, a bridge near Minneapolis collapsed sending at least 50 vehicles and passengers into the river below.
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