When government looks at project cost, it focuses on out-of-pocket expense rather than the total cost.

Traffic counts on Broadway in Galveston range from 13,000 on the east to 45,000 on the west. Assume an average of 30,000 vehicles at 1.25 passengers and construction delays of 0.5 hour a vehicle and the average value of an occupant’s time is $25 an hour. 

The delays cost $468,750 a day. If the Texas Department of Transportation won’t mitigate this, the city should.

If having city marshals direct traffic will shave 15 minutes off the delays, it would save $234,375 a day in costs before the expense of the marshals.

To compute the marshals’ cost, you would look at the value of the work they would be doing if they were not directing traffic. This work is hard to value.

As aesthetically rewarding as the war on weeds may be, it is hard to value in dollars. The value of the work the marshals are doing approximates their salary so we can use that number.

One marshal at each of 10 intersections for 8 hours at $25 an hour would cost $2,000 a day, which would save $234,375, minus $2,000 implementation costs, equaling $232,375 net benefits.

Kenneth Shelton



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(7) comments

Bill Cochrane

Mr. Shelton, you are obviously a numbers person but you are overlooking the obvious. Instead of the construction crews working during the day from 9 am to 5 pm they could work from 9 pm to 5 am. How about these numbers? 90% less traffic. 90% less delays. 90% less heat. 90% less humidity.

Bailey Jones

[thumbup] I'm reminded of the last big freeway construction project I lived through in Dallas before moving south 20 years ago. Crews worked 24 hours a day. At night, giant floodlights made it look like daytime. (I'm pretty sure the humidity goes up at night - but without a blazing sun no one would notice it.)

Gary Scoggin

In many time sensitive projects like turnarounds, critical path items are worked 24-7. Why not the same for freeway projects?

George Croix

The City loses no money itself on the lost time cost of vehicle occupants waiting on traffic delays, but would lose money on the cost to provide that traffic direction.

So, unless suddenly seized with a paroxysm of Give A Stuff about the folks stuck waiting on a clear lane, or unless it's to avoid or respond to an accident, there's no strictly monetary reason for the City to care about Joe and Jane's gas card charges or lost productivity.

Long long ago I was one of the ones trimming the then oleanders in the medians. It was a royal mess for traffic, and a constant cussing, middle finger, near miss hell for us. When I asked my boss why we didn't just cut the dam_ things down and avoid this AND increase visibility he said politics and noise.....too much of the former caused by people screaming if the oleanders and also grass were not trimmed.

The Doyles in T.C. were smart enough to put in bricks, maintainable with Round Up.

Bailey Jones

Galveston's oleanders are a death trap. I suspect that people who grew up here notice it less than those of us who came from cities where traffic visibility is paramount. Next to the ever present street trash, street visibility was the most jarring thing to me when we moved here.

George Croix


The night work would certainly help the situation, but the contract would have to include a clause redefining what the mandatory paid overtime hours were, or it would greatly raise costs. Just like it does to go 24/7 on refinery turnarounds. Those guys at night make more $, unless otherwise negotiated and agreed to.

There's also the increased danger to highway workers from, well, dark vs light, and drivers impaired further accordingly, so unless hard barricaded, their risk goes up.

George Laiacona

You are forgetting, this is Galveston Island. Projects here take more time than usual and then they lack quality and professionalism. Broadway is a State Highway therefore it’s a State project. Convince the State that they need to provide sufficient traffic control. Otherwise detours to side streets are possible. 57th street to Avenue L and 46th street to Ball. Both streets go a long distance on our island.

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