Talkin' about SPUIs

SPUI diagramAfter James saw our post last week about the SPUI that's coming to Latham (say "spoo-ee"), he mentioned it to his friend Bill Rusham, who's a traffic engineer and the host of Talking Traffic, a podcast about, well... traffic. (Behold the glory of the interwebs.)

So Bill spent some time on the podcast talking about SPUIs, "the interchange that's shaking things up around the country." Here's a clip from the episode:

So, here you are, sitting at a signal, wanting to turn left onto the cross street. Your light turns green and you proceed into the interesection, but OH MY GOD! WHAT THE HELL IS THAT OTHER CAR DOING! HE'S DRIVING STRAIGHT AT ME!

Oh, no, he's making a left, too. And he's passing to my right. What is this, England?

No. This is a correctly functioning SPUI.

Bill runs through a few of the pros (fewer signals) and cons (requires "enthusiastic" upkeep) of SPUIs. The whole episode is about interchanges -- the part about SPUIs starts at 8:32.

As James emailed us, "I hope this helps... I learned a ton about SPUIs, and hopefully the rest of Albany will too."

(Thanks, James!)


How is turning left with the car turning left from the opposite direction going past on your right any different than what happens at any intersection?

Brian: You're right, it sounds like the same as any other opposed-left turn at an intersection. What's different is that rather than a normal traffic signal, where the opposing car is sitting directly across from you and is relatively close (even at large intersections), at a SPUI, the two vehicles are a Looooong way apart when the light turns green and you spend a goodly amount of time driving pretty much directly at each other. It's really hard to describe just how open and empty a SPUI feels when you are entering the intersection; it lends toward uneasiness. To truly appreciate the openness, you need to drive one. Left turners need to follow their turn lane stripes to avoid any unpleasantness.

Thanks for the Shout Out, All Over Albany. I appreciate it.

Oh man... ! I cant wait for this amusement ride to open! I learned to drive in Massachusetts in the 60's when we learned to drive aggressively... There is nothing sweeter than a 5 road rotary... How I miss the Sagamore Rotary.. the fly over is for pussies... When I moved to the mid west and discovered this thing called a 4 way stop.. ykes, civilized driving with Etiquette... So this thing sounds like computer aided 21st century with irrational human being input...

You're welcome. Glad to help educate Albanians on the merits of these new-fangled fun-to-say intersections.

(My goal for tomorrow is to use the word "parclo" in conversation.)

The reasons why this is an awful idea has been fully documented by me. I don't feel the need to repeat old arguments. But, if you're one of those folks who is in favor of the SPUI, I beg you to consider this fact:
I hate it.

I for one welcome a SPUI to the Capital Region. As an Albany area roadgeek that has done quite a bit of traveling, I will say that some places have embraced the SPUI quite a bit. They are more expensive to build, but I think it will make the traffic flow on Troy-Schenectady Road much nicer.
Like the roundabouts that have been popping up in Malta, Slingerlands and elsewhere, I suspect there will be a learning curve with a local SPUI, but once people get the hang of it, traffic should flow much smoother in Latham.

Now to figure out how to use parclo in a sentence...

ugh. no dislike button?

I've lived in Latham for over 30 years and would like to give my personal thanks to whoever invented the SPUI. That has always been a busy intersection but since Latham Farms opened in the early 90's then the Target Plaza later, the traffic has gotten ridiculous. The SPUI keeps the traffic flowing and there doesn't seem to be that backup from light to light. If you get one green now, you keep going till you're through the entire intersection (or am I just always hitting it right?) Even through the holiday shopping season it was great. Thank you, thank you.

I'll second that. I finally had occasion to ride my bike through the SPUI -- something I really didn't dare do through the old intersection -- and it was really a breeze. It was clear who was supposed to go where, and much much safer than it used to be.

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