Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, May 01, 2016 ACHD's Road Wizard

U-turn right-of-way question at Orchard Street and Fairview Avenue; still no green-arrow left turns planned for River and 9th streets; Costco driveway existing onto Cole Road will now be marked for through traffic, too

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: Car A is northbound on Orchard Street, turning left onto westbound Fairview and has a green arrow. At the same time, Car B is eastbound on Fairview turning right onto Orchard and also has a green arrow. Car A decides to do a U-turn at the same time Car B is making their right turn. Who has the right of way?

Road Wizard:

Is this a trick question? I ask because U-turns aren't allowed at this intersection. In Boise, the reverse direction move is only permissible at a signalized intersection when a U-turn sign is present.

Additionally, any location that has a so-called right-turn overlap is not suitable for U-turns. The overlap occurs when a right-turn green arrow runs at the same time as the green arrow for left-turning drivers heading toward the same road the right-turning drivers are exiting.

U-turns are used to access driveways that are right-in/right-out only. There isn't this type of driveway on Orchard south of the intersection, so providing the right-turn overlap better serves motorists.

Dear Road Wizard: The intersection of 9th and River streets in Boise appears to have a traffic light with a fourth ball for a green-turn arrow. However, all the times during the week that I'm in the left lane on River and want to turn south, all we get is the blinking yellow arrow. At times I haven't been able to turn off Capitol Boulevard onto River because the traffic is backed up. Leaving the library onto River is frustrating and dangerous. Why no green-turn arrow?

Road Wizard:

Happy anniversary to this topic. Doug's comments came in almost exactly one year after Nikki wrote about the same situation.

There is a left-turn green arrow in the fourth ball, but it never activates. Providing a protected turn for westbound River would require stopping eastbound drivers. The flashing yellow arrow allows both directions of through traffic to have simultaneous green lights.

The intersection is also part of the coordinated signal grid downtown, and adding time for protected left turns would put the signal out of coordination. The River Street experience isn't ideal, but driving cautiously with some patience is better than creating widespread delays to correct it.

Dear Road Wizard: When exiting Costco's parking lot at the light on Cole Road, you have two options, turn left or turn right. But what do you do if you want to go straight onto Century Way? I have tried using either lane and I get dirty looks (or worse). If I'm in the left-turn-arrow lane, the oncoming traffic assumes I'm turning, so they turn. If I'm in the right-turn-arrow lane, again, the oncoming traffic doesn't know I'm going straight. If there was a wreck, who would be at fault?

Road Wizard:

The blame would likely go to the driver not following the arrows. But it shouldn't come to that; ACHD will add a through arrow to the pavement with the right-turn-only arrow. That lane is supposed to have the option for going straight, as well as turning right.

The right-turn-only markings probably had to do with the arrows being on Costco's driveway access and not on a public street. It's gone unnoticed for a decade or more; not many people drive straight to Century.

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