Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, January 10, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

Simultaneous right- and left-turn arrows requested at Milwaukee Street/Fairview Avenue; no uphill battle for reader wanting "thru traffic" sign on Protest Hill; another report of a "scary" driving experience on Interstate 84

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: There are a multitude of major intersections in the Treasure Valley with dedicated right-turn lanes where non-conflicting left-turning traffic has a protected green arrow. Northbound Milwaukee Street at Fairview Avenue is an example. When westbound Fairview's protected left turn is green, people routinely sit in Milwaukee's right-turn lane, presumably frozen in fear because they see a lot of traffic movement. Are there plans to modify intersections like this so that Milwaukee's right-turners get a green arrow, letting them know they can safely go? (Which, granted, should be patently obvious to them, if they were paying attention.) Traffic flow is impeded by people reluctant to make the right turn on red when they're completely protected.

Road Wizard:

Drivers turning right on this red light aren't as protected as it may appear. Motorists on westbound Fairview are allowed to make U-turns during the left-turn green arrow. Those U-turning drivers may collide with right-on-red motorists who make protection presumptions.

There are some intersections that display simultaneous right-turn and left-turn green arrows, but conflicting U-turns have to be taken off the turning-traffic table. For example, the so-called "right-turn overlaps" can be found on eastbound State Street at Veterans Memorial Parkway, and westbound Overland Road at Meridian Road.

These intersections also boast significant amounts of right-turning drivers. That's the only way to see a meaningful reduction in delays with the overlaps.

By comparison, Milwaukee at Fairview doesn't have enough traffic volume to justify the expense of the overlap operation, especially it if means removing the U-turn option.

Dear Road Wizard: When coming up Protest Hill to Federal Way, one sees a left-only arrow sign for the left lane and a right-only arrow sign for the right lane. A straight-only arrow sign for the middle lane would alert those unfamiliar with the intersection that it's the correct lane for drivers going straight. With all the new alignments following chip sealing, this type of signage might be helpful in other locations.

Road Wizard:

Typically, thru lane signs are considered superfluous, but the curved, uphill approach on Protest limits how far ahead drivers can see pavement lane markings.

Convincing ACHD to add the sign was not an uphill battle; it was posted several weeks ago.

Dear Road Wizard: Your column came at the perfect time to explain a scary event that happened to me. I had new tires installed and was driving on Interstate 84 when my car suddenly started shaking and bouncing. I was traveling east in the right-most lane having just passed Orchard Street. I was so concerned I pulled over expecting to see half my lug nuts gone. I was sure I was losing a wheel (and silently cursing the tire shop). I reentered the freeway farther east and the problem didn't reoccur. Reading your column about "some tire treads" being factors makes me think that was what happened.

Road Wizard:

Some call it "groove wander." Based on my own research and reader comments, it seems to happen when certain tire types roll over the new-style grooves on some freeways, including in the Treasure Valley. When asked about it, the Idaho Transportation Department said, "It just wouldn't be appropriate for us to respond, as we are not familiar with this tire tread concern."  

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