This report was from a work-related trip I took to Guam in mid-February, 2007.
On a recent sea trip I was on, I had an opportunity to spend two nights on
Guam prior to my return to Mississippi. I had a rental car available and drove
extensively around the island. Below are some notes (not all road related) from
- Almost all the buildings I saw on Guam were concrete or concrete-block. This wasn't surprising, given that the island is typhoon-prone.
- Most of the population is concentrated in the center part of the island, in and east of Agana (the capital...locally named Hagatna).
- *LOTS* of foreign tourists...mostly Japanese, but also some Chinese, Taiwanese, and even Korean tourists.
- At the airport getting to my flight home, the airport was packed with Japanese tourists trying to make their own flights. And this was at 5:30 in the morning too.
- Several units of the "War In The Pacific National Military Park" scattered around the island, commemorating the Pacific side of World War 2, and in particular the battles on Guam in 1944 when the U.S. retook the island from the Japanese.
- Except where traffic forced lower speeds, almost everyone ignored the posted speed limits. Average speeds were about 10 MPH higher than posted speeds. One possible reason is that the relatively small size of the island has produced a mentality that one should be able to get anywhere else on the island quickly.
- I talked to one lady who said some of her neighbors haven't gone the 10-15 miles to another part of the island because it was "too far".
- Guamanians are even worse left lane bandits than Louisiana or New York drivers.
- I could not find a detailed street map of Guam whatsoever. All I could find in hard-copy was a couple of tourist maps.
- Back to speed limits, the prevailing speed limit posted was 35 MPH. Some road segments that were narrow or went through towns or residential areas were posted 25 MPH. The highest speed limit on the island is 45 MPH, and that was generally limited to a few route segments that were 4 lanes and didn't pass through major urbanized area....mainly outer parts of GU 1, GU 2A and GU 3 and also GU 8 near the back side of the airport.
- Although there are no speed limits higher than 45 MPH, a few segments of GU 1 (near the Naval Station), GU 2 (west shore), GU 3 (north side), GU 4 (southeast shore), GU 9 (northeast side), and GU 15 (eastern side) could support 50 or even 55 MPH with only minor improvements.
- Traffic signals are mostly overhead-mounted, with a mix of mast arm and wire-mounted signals. Side-mounted signals are occasionally used for left turn signals and a few side-street signals. Guam uses red left turn arrows. A few signals have been upgraded to LED, but incandescent bulbs are still predominant.
- There was a general lack of dual left turn lanes in Guam, especially along GU 1, which at several intersections could really use them.
- Based on the maps and what I could find in the field, Guam routes range in number from 1 to 34. There were eight suffixed routes that I could find: 2A, 3A, 4A, 7A, 14A, 14B, 24A, and 30A. Some of these routes were little more than local streets.
- Two Guam routes are considered memorial highways. GU 1, which is the main route and connects the Naval Station to Anderson AFB, is known as Marine Corps Drive. GU 10 is known as Vietnam Veterans Highway.
- There are no freeways on Guam, and only one bonafide interchange: along GU 16 at GU 10A just east of the airport. This interchange is a tight urban interchange (mainly due to the steep grade it's located on) and functions like a SPUI.
- Several 4-lane routes on the island, including all of GU 1, GU 2A, GU 8, GU 10, GU 14, and GU 16. Parts of GU 6, GU 7A, and GU 30 were also 4 lanes.
- A few 6-lane routes around the island as well, mainly in the populated center area. GU 1 is 6 lanes from the eastern GU 1/6 junction east to GU 28. GU 4 is 6 lanes in downtown Agana. GU 16 is 6 lanes from the GU 10A ramps to GU 1, while the short GU 27 (a connector from GU 16 east to GU 1 in Dededo) is 6 lanes in its entirety.
- Route signage is generally fair to poor. Some routes have trailblazers and an occasional reassurance shield, while some routes aren't signed at all. There are at least 5 locations where one route transitions seamlessly into another route, and 3 of these transitions were not signed whatsoever. That plus the lack of good maps made it very difficult to take termini photos.
- The GU 1/GU 4 junction in Agana is similar to the HI 63/HI 83 junction on Oahu I described in my Hawaii report: it functions like an at-grade trumpet, allowing for a simple 2-phase signal instead of the multi-phase signal required for left-turn phasing. It's basically a 2-way jughandle.
- A segment of GU 15, between GU 4 and GU 10, passes through mostly residential area, and was posted only 25 MPH and had several speed bumps installed.
- Some Guam routes were very twisty with major elevation changes. These include GU 4 along the southwest and southeast shores, some of GU 2 along the southwestern shore (though GU 2 has several climbing lanes), GU 17 across the south-central part of the island, and GU 6 between Nimitz Hill and the west side of Agana.
- The GU 4/GU 4A intersection is a skewed intersection halfway up a cliff. Excellent view of Talofofo Bay, but a bit hairy to navigate due to its configuration. In part due to that, it has all-way stop sign control.
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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig