Blog Posts

Mental gymnastics, i.e Nashville traffic reports

Dear News Directors and Traffic Reporters,
 
Map detailing downtown Nashville’s major interstates and side roads.

As you know, driving around Nashville can be pretty tough and confusing, especially for newcomers who for some weird reason believe that a single street should only have a single name.

Silly visitors. Bless their hearts.

Seriously, can’t you do something about the mental gymnastics we drivers have to complete when you broadcast the locations of traffic accidents?
 
Take, for example, these recent reports:
  • “There’s an accident on I-24 West near the exit ramp to Hayward Lane.”
  • “I-40 Eastbound near White Bridge Road is slow due to construction on the bridge overpass.”
 If someone doesn’t know that Hayward Lane and White Bridge Road are on the east and west sides of town, respectively, then they are screwed. They’ll be late for work and their long-time Nashvillian bosses won’t understand what’s wrong with these new hires.
 
In my opinion, the use of northbound, southbound, eastbound, and westbound confuses everyone who expects the words north, south, east, and west to denote actual cardinal points around the city. You know, like on a compass.

After years of driving around Chicago and listening to those traffic reports, here are my suggestions:

  1. Use “inbound” or “outbound” to denote which side of the interstate an accident is located, as in driving towards downtown or away from downtown
  2. The interstate roads that circle downtown Nashville should be referred to as “The Loop” (It’s okay, Chicago will be flattered we borrowed their term.)
  3. The interstate name where an accident occurs should be a combination of its interstate number and its cardinal point, which ends when it converges with the Loop.
 So, with this new terminology, the above examples become:
  • “There’s an accident on I-24 East inbound near the exit ramp to Hayward Lane.”
  • “I-40 West outbound near White Bridge Road is slow due to construction on the bridge overpass.”
 And if an accident occurs in the Loop, you can use the cardinal points plus whether the accident is in the “Inner” or “Outer” lanes to denote which lanes are affected.
 
For example:
  • “There an accident on the Southern Loop’s outer lanes near the Second Avenue South exit,” or
  • “Traffic is slow in the Northern Loop’s inner lanes due to an accident at the Rosa Parks Boulevard exit.”
There, isn’t that better?
 
At least I feel better because I’ve been composing this message for the past 35 years since I’ve moved to this beautiful, friendly, lovely city. Perhaps these suggestions (and hopefully your adoption of these terms) will help you help drivers get around town in an easier, safer manner.
 
Peace,
CF
 
P.S. The above solution does not apply to the many iterations of Old Hickory Boulevard in and around Davidson County. You’re on your own for those reports!

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