0253: "Highway Engineer Pranks"

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TheTankengine
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0253: "Highway Engineer Pranks"

Postby TheTankengine » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:04 am UTC

http://xkcd.com/c253.html

I'm pretty sure there are at least two of these configurations in Louisville. Seriously, we have a joining of three interstates called "spaghetti junction". Highway engineers are certainly a cruel group.



Edited for GM link
Last edited by TheTankengine on Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:02 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby athelas » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:08 am UTC

Simulpost! This one was first, though

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Postby Klye » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:16 am UTC

I would be willing to bet that if nothing else, this comic just gave some highway engineer somewhere some "great" ideas...
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Postby miles01110 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:28 am UTC

I'd just like to say that this is by far the best alt-text ever.

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Postby leebenningfield » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:30 am UTC

By the the time I got to "rotary supercollider" I was definitely laughing out loud. Then I read the alt text and I just lost it, it's just so very very true. I drive in and out of Boston almost every day, and some roads change literally every week. It's always a new adventure.

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Re: "Highway Engineer Pranks" Discussion

Postby JoshJ » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:45 am UTC

TheTankengine wrote:http://xkcd.com/c253.html

I'm pretty sure there are at least two of these configurations in Louisville. Seriously, we have a joining of three interstates called "spaghetti junction". Highway engineers are certainly a cruel group.

You've got nothing on Atlanta then.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... tionGA.jpg

Driving under it is fairly impressive as well:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/e ... i85_sb.jpg


And a google maps link:
link
so you can see just how insane this really is.

The URL= tag is your friend.
Last edited by JoshJ on Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: "Highway Engineer Pranks" Discussion

Postby yy2bggggs » Wed Apr 25, 2007 4:55 am UTC

Does Atlanta have multi-billion dollar falling killer death traps you have to dodge?

Edit: Added link for those who think this is a hyperbole.

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Postby parallax » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:02 am UTC

I swear that Boston is non-Euclidean. You can make four right turns and end up going in a different direction than you started.

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Postby miles01110 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:05 am UTC

I remember one time when I made the mistake of offering to drive a friend to South Station from the Pike. 2 hours later I was back in Waltham (normally a 20-minute drive).

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Postby t0tAl_mElTd0wN » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:10 am UTC

JoshJ! You, along with a recent slashdot article have inspired me!

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Postby jfinkels » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:12 am UTC

One of my favorite intersections around Boston: link here

Nothing like a 7-way intersection to lighten your mood.

My second favorite is just down the street: the flashing green traffic light. Note that flashing yellow has a meaning and flashing red has a meaning. Flashing green does not.

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Postby miles01110 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:15 am UTC

lol jfinkels, that one is fun times. The huge Watertown intersection is also wild and crazy.

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Postby soundmage » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:28 am UTC

There's a fun one in Milwaukee...

link

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Postby Ketsuban » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:36 am UTC

Am I the only one who found himself wondering whether those are actually valid knots, or if they've got some inconsistency in the vein of the Penrose triangle or the impossible cube?

Also, you people should stop pasting your Google Maps links in full. You're stretching the table and making a horizontal scrollbar. That said, there's two fairly interesting examples in The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, UK, and a matching one in Hemel Hempstead (no satellite map for the last one, unfortunately).

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Postby chan the evoker » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:45 am UTC

This comic reminds me of the far side.

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Postby iabervon » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:46 am UTC

The thing you have to understand about Boston is that it was designed for defense against invasion by land. This is perfectly clear if you study the revolutionary war. The Boston Massacre happened when a group of Redcoats were stuck on a small traffic island on State Street, unable to cross the street until they fired their muskets. In the Battle of Bunker Hill, the Minutemen totally slaughtered the Redcoats as the Redcoats were stuck going around the monument on the one-way streets, trying to figure out how to get to Bunker Hill for the battle (the Minutemen were encamped on Breed's Hill, a totally different hill in Charlestown). And the Minutemen decimated the Redcoat troop trying to get to Concord by shooting from behind rocks and trees as the Redcoats circled the Common and Garden three times trying to get to the Longfellow Bridge. Since it was so vital to our nation's history in the past, it is easy to see why Bostonians are unwilling to make the roads so easy that anybody who tried could follow them. It is not without reason that we honored George Washington with a set of unaligned and sometimes non-contiguous sections of road.

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Postby Xane » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:49 am UTC

link

i hearts the beltway

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Postby EvanED » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:51 am UTC

The Magic Roundabout (it has its own Wikipedia entry!):

Google Maps
Image

[Rehosting coming eventually]

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Postby Phy » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:58 am UTC

"Rotary Supercollider" looks an awful lot like what I always wanted to do with Hot Wheels but never had the track pieces.

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Postby SirNuke » Wed Apr 25, 2007 5:59 am UTC

I always thought Pittsburgh was pretty bad.

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Postby OneLess » Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:32 am UTC

I totally agree with the alt-text! We were driving family members from Western New York to Logan Airport in Boston and it was pure hell. We barely made it to the airport itself on time, then we had booked a hotel outside of Boston since we had planned on staying overnight and driving back in the morning.

So it takes half an hour just to get out of the damn city because of all the stupid streets, then another half hour of driving to the hotel itself. When we get there, my dad and I decide to take a "quick" trip to a convenience store at about 9pm. We ended up being out for about 2 hours trying to find a convenience store then trying to figure out how to get back (it wasn't a question of not being able to find the hotel, we were driving within 100-200 yards of it, we just couldn't get to it because of the stupid maze of roads).

In summary, I'm never going to Boston again. Screw the Patriots, screw the Red Sox, your roads all suck.

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Postby Ender42081 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 6:41 am UTC

the one in Milwaukee is the Marquette interchange, everybody around here knows it. It looks nuts and can be intimidating, but the traffic is suprisingly light. First time I came here I figured I'd be somewhat close to ground level (I'm from rural illinois, the interchange is about 6 levels) and so only god directions so far.... was almost out of milwaukee before I realized what happened.
the best part is they are repairing it, and finally tore down a ~12 story building that had been in the middle forever... utterly encased in road bridges. also, blues brothers jumped it while it was being worked on IIRC.
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Postby MonkeyPilot » Wed Apr 25, 2007 7:08 am UTC

The Magic Roundabout is amazing. I almost want to go to Swindon to experience it's splendour. But my heart will always remain in Spaghetti junction - Birmingham (it's in the way of the fridge!) http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?ll=52.511 ... 005932&t=k

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Postby skeptical scientist » Wed Apr 25, 2007 8:56 am UTC

One of my professors at Brandeis had a printout of this taped to his office door. I wonder if Randall saw something similar for inspiration. In fact, I wonder about his inspiration quite a lot - he should do a comic (a meta-comic?) on sources of inspiration for his comics.

P.S. I for one would appreciate it if people would design their links so they don't force the page to be excessively wide. All you have to do is replace

Code: Select all

[url]googleImageLinkWithMileLongQueryString[/url]
with
[url=googleImageLinkWithMileLongQueryString]google image link[/url]

It's not that hard. Reading webpages that force you to scroll horizontally as well as vertically is really annoying.
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Postby I_H8_-1 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:26 am UTC

we just got an interchange put in by my hometown that looks like the Atlanta one, its FUBAR.

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Postby Kinami » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:29 am UTC

Seattle's got a good one, too.

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Postby German Sausage » Wed Apr 25, 2007 9:32 am UTC

there is an artist ...something macaualy, i think - he wrote the way things work - anyway, he has a picture called "small victory - highway" which i cannot find on google. its a similar highway thing, but it stops at the edge of a jungle or rather is turned back.

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Postby smocc » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:25 am UTC

Can't forget Freshpond Circle, jfinkel. It doesn't look like much, if you look closely you'll see that that one circle is the only intersection for the three big roads. It's completely surrounded by shopping centers (with no through ways) and a big resevoir. You'll also see that there's only one way in and out of the big shopping center on the right. Basically you have all the traffic coming into Cambridge from the west and everyone who wants to get into the shopping center going through that one tiny circle.

There's a story that they give the job of redesigning Freshpond as a project to civil engineering students at MIT and no one has ever figured out something better.
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Postby Wanger » Wed Apr 25, 2007 10:53 am UTC

Ketsuban wrote:That said, there's two fairly interesting examples in The Magic Roundabout in Swindon, UK, and a matching one in Hemel Hempstead.


i wonder what the point is in such a system? i mean, i can see that you should be able to take a shorter route through it (compared to just one large roundabout), interfering less with traffic entering from other roads. but i think it's going to take just as long, if not longer, for traffic to get through it. also, in practice, obviously people are just going to get confused and crash into each other.

i guess since there are only a couple the guy whose idea it was probably has been sacked, anyway.

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Postby morjax » Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:16 am UTC

Dear Lord! the roads are much worse than I thought! If I were a superhero, this is when I'd be running off to do something about this!

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Postby saxmaniac1987 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:38 am UTC

*ahem*

Mid County Interchange. Where the Northeast Extension meets the PA Turnpike--how the suburbians get to work in Philly.

It tends to get a tad busy at rush hour.
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Postby Ren » Wed Apr 25, 2007 11:53 am UTC

These maps all remind me strangely of spaghetti. I'm trying to decide whether or not that's a good thing.
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Postby mozzer » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:10 pm UTC

Assume all roads are single directional

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Postby SpitValve » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:25 pm UTC

1. mozzer, you should post in the intro thread for your first post

2. I can not comprehend any of those intersections. Maybe because I don't drive, or maybe because the most complex intersection in Wellington is probably just .... no ... can't find any examples. Though it looks like the aerial photographs were taken before the bypass was built...

Edit: no, actually that's just a tunnel.. never mind

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Postby miles01110 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 12:33 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:One of my professors at Brandeis had a printout of this taped to his office door. I wonder if Randall saw something similar for inspiration. In fact, I wonder about his inspiration quite a lot - he should do a comic (a meta-comic?) on sources of inspiration for his comics.


You went to Brandeis? I'm there now. Pity is accepted.

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Postby skeptical scientist » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:06 pm UTC

miles01110 wrote:You went to Brandeis? I'm there now. Pity is accepted.

I liked Brandeis, so you'll get no pity from me.

What don't you like about it (besides the architecture, that is)? (You should probably respond via PM, since we're veering off-topic, but I wanted to defend my Alma Mater publicly.)
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My prank...

Postby rik » Wed Apr 25, 2007 1:16 pm UTC

I had actually thought of something similar for an April Fools prank.

Find some motorway (freeway) cones. Lots of them. Distribute 40 or so to each volunteer, and about 3am, have them all simultaneously put on hi-vis jackets, and cone off the exit ramps from the freeway on the way in to the city.

Result: All drivers can get on, going in... but they're going all the way in. You let them out on the way back, of course, don't want to be cruel. Likewise, it might be an idea to let them off at the last exit before the city, just so you don't completely jam up the city.
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entropomorphic
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Postby entropomorphic » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:03 pm UTC

This comic made me literally laugh out loud... not easy since I'm usually a quiet laugher...

Aaahh Boston, how I love thee. $14.6 billion never bought so... much!

Actually, where I live now (Baltimore, previously in Boston) has some pretty choice examples from my daily commute...

one
two

Note the ill-advised use of left-handed entrances and exits. There's nothing like speeding along in the left lane after a long day at work, only to have an SUV pop into your lane suddenly, struggling to accellerate it's 5000 lb bulk past 45 mph.

Here's another example from nearby... one of two interchanges in the DC metro area to be nicknamed the "Mixing Bowl". The other was posted earlier in this thread. ::shudder:: I would hate to have to commute to the Pentagon every day...

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Postby damien019 » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:03 pm UTC

I had to register for this thread. Have none of you ever been to Jersey?

For example This one is right down the street where 3 busy highways come together right next to a mall. A giant parking lot all day on sunday and during rush hours, it's also under construction pretty often.

Also the Newark International Airport area is fun.

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Postby Gelsamel » Wed Apr 25, 2007 2:20 pm UTC

All I can say is...



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