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The Ten-Day Jam

Over a ten-day period, traffic built on the Beijing-Zhangjiakou highway in Huailai, China's northern Hebei province. The lead cars and trucks (primarily coal trucks) were at a standstill, and all subsequent travelors came to a halt as well. No movement for ten days!

The cause is construction roadwork, and oddly, alternative routes were in place to alleviate congestion....but with no success.

At the ten-day period, the "tailback" stretched to a "mind-boggling, radiator-testing 60 miles."

The Inner Mongolia Morning Post made two interesting observations regarding the traffic jam. On the positive side, the traffic jam created a lucrative business for roadside vendors marketing eggs, water and cigarettes to the frustrated drivers. And on the negative side, thieves have been plundering the stationary vehicles as their drivers slept, including siphoning gasoline.

Question: Given that the highway involves three-lane and that the length of the traffic jam is 60 miles, estimate the number of people stranded. What assumptions do you need to first make?

Source: Metra.UK.com, August 24, 2010