Fix the spaghetti bowl

As readers may have recently read, officialdom is nearing the point of planning the new spaghetti bowl where freeways come together in Reno.

It's a little late to remind our people how, if the feds had listened to the locals instead of local businesses and put Interstate 80 north of town instead of right through center 0f the town on what then were called the Third Street Route or the Seventh Street Route (the one finally chosen), there would have been no need for a spaghetti bowl at all.

But there is still reason to recall that history, to remember that it is important to listen to locals in planning the alterations to the spaghetti bowl, because it's the locals who will have to use it most.

The last time the spaghetti bowl was re-designed there was a feature added that should not have been. That was two- or three-lane transfer ramps that suddenly turn into one-lane ramps.

There are two of them on the current spaghetti bowl. One of them is eastbound on Interstate 80 and fills two lanes as they curve south to dump traffic onto 395 or 580, whatever they're calling the north/south freeway.

The other heads north on three lanes of 395 or 580, then turns into Interstate 80 where those three lanes squeezed into one are dumped either onto 80 or into the last Reno exit from 80, which happens to be at the bottom of the exit ramp.

Both of these wide-to-narrow ramps generate road rage and cause drivers to compete against each other at high speeds.

In researching this editorial, we found a Sacremento Bee story that read in part, “We asked Bee readers last week about a common but controversial freeway moment: When faced with a sign saying, ‘Lane ends ahead, merge left,' should you merge immediately or scoot ahead, passing other cars, until your lane ends? No surprise. We got no consensus. Drivers are adamant on both sides. Pat Longest says she gets in her lane early, and is angered by those who zoom by in the other lane. They're rude, she says. You can read her lips as you pass by. ‘I say it out loud.' Some of those ‘side zoomers,' though, say they are being the opposite of rude. They're reducing congestion by efficiently using available freeway space. Robert Massagli is emphatic: “If there is unused pavement on a highway, by all means USE IT!' ”

By contrast. a Federal Highway Administration handbook reads, “increasing the number of freeway lanes from 2 to 3 will increase the ‘service volumes.'”

No, it won't. The service volume remains the same. Expanding the number of lanes just pits the drivers against each other. And we need to knock it off. It's danger0us.