Zipper merging reduces congestion during heavy traffic

Press release from Alachua County

ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. – The Alachua County Public Works Department announced today that motorists can help reduce traffic congestion, decrease their commute times, and improve overall road safety by using the “zipper merge” technique. Most drivers merge early as shown above. Early merging is acceptable for light traffic conditions, but zipper merging can reduce congestion by 40% when used during periods of heavy traffic volumes.

Zipper merging is simple, yet highly effective. As traffic begins to slow during rush hour, drivers should begin to use the full length of the merging lane and then take turns merging into the open lane, alternating just like the teeth on a zipper.

Watch a zipper merge video demonstration.

Ideal locations for zipper merging on county roads are where two lanes are reduced to one. For example, NW 23rd Ave. at NW 58th St., NW 39th Ave. at NW 98th St., NW 43rd St. at Talbot Elementary, and Tower Road at SW 8th Ave.

  • Maybe the ACPW Dept. could work on finishing the 1 mile of horrendous perpetual road construction on University Ave between 13th St and Gale Lemerand Drive in less than 50 years before they lecture people on how to drive?

    • The city loves the construction congestion there as it kills traffic flow, which is the city’s ultimate goal.

      • That’s part of the problem. No one’s ever sure if the latest catastrophe is owned by the city, county, or state DOT.

        • Univ Ave is a state highway, which means any changes must be approved by the FDOT, but they are probably paying for it too. They coordinate planning with the city and county through the Metropolitan Planning Organization, which is the joint city and county commissions that meet publicly as such regularly. They employ the North Central Florida Planning Council (up off SR 121 near UPS) as staff and are required by federal law in order to receive federal funds. There are MPO’s all over the state and country and must include public input through elected leaders, public meetings, and documents. They have long term organized work and planning lists which must be updated yearly. There is a Citizens Advisory Committee that generally meets monthly if anyone is interested in this topic and wishes to be involved on a regular basis, or one can visit their meetings or the MPO’s meetings and speak up. The MPO does not cover the entire county, but only those parts designated as in the Metropolitan Planning Area. The city and county also have their own separate transportation projects.


  • Whoever is in charge of the traffic lights needs to be pistol whipped. That goes for the city and county.

    • Flogged and keelhauled would be more appropriate.
      That idiot Poe said he would work on the traffic signals but like everything else all he did was jerk off on taxpayers’ funds. Funny how his s0€i@list ass has taken to hiding…his kids must be proud of their “daddy.” I’m guessing Poe and his replacement Ward know all about zippers.

      • Gainesville has synched and monitored traffic lights and has had that capability for about 5 years. The live monitoring location is at public works on NW 39th Ave. If you experience traffic jams, it is either user error (at 39th Ave) or there is just too much traffic and to little road. The latter is very expensive. Daddy can’t fix everything sweetheart.

        If not rush hour, I have many times driven University from Waldo to 13th with minimum stops, but of course at the University and especially with construction, forget it. That is a heavy pedestrian area with active businesses, and your ability to get back to Newberry quickly is not the tantamount concern of traffic engineers.

        • Sure Po’ dooboy. Maybe it’s just the people charged with maintaining the lights are just incapable.
          Tell me why the lights on 43rd change when there’s no waiting traffic or why the light at the Home Depot on 53rd does the same. How about why turning off of Main onto University you turn into a red light with no traffic.

          I love how you try your best at providing an excuse for every failed liberal idea, policy or promise. You need to stop being so supportive of circle jerks, they don’t accomplish much.

          • I told you the facts – the city has a fully synched and monitored in real time traffic control center. If you think that is a liberal policy, I can’t help you.

            “If you experience traffic jams, it is either user error (at 39th Ave) or there is just too much traffic and to little road.”

          • That’s what they’ve told you. That’s not reality nor is it factual.

            Obviously there’s more out of synch than just the traffic signals. Thanks for playing.

          • I’ve been there and observed it in operation – its a fact. Ask for a tour if you’re dubious.

            “Traffic Management
            The Traffic Management System (TMS) is a partnership between the City of Gainesville, Alachua County, the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), and the University of Florida that focuses on all road users’ safety while optimizing driving efficiency by coordinating traffic signals and adjusting signal timing.

            Traffic Signals
            The City of Gainesville is responsible for the operation and maintenance of all signalized intersections, flashing school zone beacons, flashing stop signs, intersection warning beacons, and overhead static and illuminated signs throughout Alachua County. This also includes the other municipalities, the unincorporated area of Alachua County, and the University of Florida campus. Each individual entity is responsible for funding the installation of these devices, and the City of Gainesville maintains and operates them on an annual contractual basis. Click here for FAQs about traffic signals…”


          • I know where it is and that’s not the issue. Appreciate your providing the regurgitated information though.

            In case anyone has issues with traffic signals you can call (352) 393-8429. Tell them how screwed up Archer Rd and 34th is. If opposing traffic can’t make a left turn at the same time they shouldn’t be driving. That intersection shouldn’t be a circle jerk just because a bunch of jerk-offs maintain it.

          • I don’t know about your specific complaint, but you might consider that the jerk-offs are some of those driving who are a danger to others and that this intersection has been the site of numerous accidents. It has been used as an example of one of the worst in the state in traffic engineering presentations.

          • Of course you don’t, how convenient. Think I’ve already said they shouldn’t be driving. Now they’ve decided to turn NW 34th and 53rd into a circle jerk.
            Idiots, can’t get rid of them and can’t keep them from breeding more.

          • yeah right, like the intersection of 53rd and 43rd, when turning left onto 43rd, that only allows about 3 or 4 cars to turn before cycling at Rush Hour?

  • “Zipper merging” is a phrase that cries out for off-color snarky snarks. (E.g., Bill Clinton was really into zipper merging, whether the mergee requested or not). It’s lamentable how almost everything these days has some off-color implication, but still it’s hard to believe that nobody in charge sensed how this phrase would result in total derision. Check out urban dictionary tomorrow for the new meanings of “zipper merging,” if they are not there already.

  • How about doing an announcement reminding drivers who are going 20 mph under the speed limit on a two-lane highway to check their mirrors and if they see a line of cars behind them going back two miles to PULL OFF THE ROAD so everyone else can drive on.

  • That zipper merge really works at the Archer road and Tower intersection westbound during evening rush hour… NOT! Traffic backs up in the median lane to Arredondo while those in the curb lane ‘zip’ right by.

  • Leave it to the individuals tasked with the efficient and orderly flow of traffic, (not to mention the maintenance and safety of roadways), to put out a PSA to make up for their failures.

    How many years will it be before the dilapidated road near you gets repaired?

  • Not mentioned, but also crying out for driver education is the seemingly growing tendency of some to stop 1 to 2 to many car lengths behind traffic at a light, oblivious to those behind them, thus blocked from entering the left turn lane or quick response to light changes. Traffic intersections are designed taking into account “storage capacity” of lanes at lights and these morons completely destroy that capacity for reasons only they can probably explain.

    • 8 out of 10 times those individuals are texting. It’s a dead giveaway and if LEOs would enforce the laws, some of the accidents related to distracted drivers may be prevented or at least reduced.

    • At 39th and 43rd intersection, as an example, folks leave way too much space in between the cars, and then are not ready to go through the light when it changes b/c of phone usage or whatever.
      Imo there could be 30% more cars get through the lights if drivers were attentive. Especially the first car at the light, when it changes, go, with eyes looking towards intersecting roads for red light runners.

    • I don’t agree with what you post on many topics, but it’s nice to know we agree on something. 😀

  • PS With the usual complaints from those who blame everything on city and county commissioners, can we get a round of applause for the series of roundabouts that can get you from Waldo Road to SW 13th at Archer without stopping once, any time of day, and also up to Univ and 6th? I use those any chance I get.

    • Studies have shown that roundabouts _do_ allow more throughput at intersections, but only until they reach their max capacity, which is usually the same for both roundabouts and intersections.

      So kudos for the bread crumbs, but they’re solving the wrong problem: too many people in too small a space, and not enough roadway to accommodate them all.

      Maybe Gainesville needs a limited-access beltway.

      • “… but only until they reach their max capacity,”.

        Well then, the Depot Rd, 6th St roundabouts have not reached max capacity as they flow beautifully and get you across town on the south side as quickly as one can imagine.

        • PS I agree that ultimately you cna get too many people in too small a space …. for automobiles, and new roads are very expensive. We won’t be doing much of that. Much higher densities than Gainesville has are common across the country, and living with it is part of modern life. The jump to public transportation that carries a significant part of the population requires much greater densities and that will not happen here in our lifetime.

  • if you see the lane is ending around the same time i do, i will not let you in. we both saw the merge sign around the same time. sorry not sorry.

  • I think that zipper merging causes, at least a many problems that, it is erroneously assumed, it solves, no one likes the A-sholes that rush down the Zipper lane and butt in front of the people that got in the correct lane to begin with.

  • Seriously?! Those merge lanes are nothing but racing lanes. They do not solve any of thee problems. The people who fly in those lanes are to merge with the traffic in the lane beside them. It absolutely does not work that way. ………..

  • I often see drivers merge Very early, including on large roads (like interstates) when temp mergers are required for construction. Always seems like a waste of available lanes, yet can get terrible looks (or worse) when passing by a long line of cars to get to end of ‘the zipper’

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