Ada County Highway District

ACHD's Road Wizard Sunday, November 04, 2018 ACHD's Road Wizard

Flashing yellow arrow left-turn signal eliminated at Americana Boulevard/Latah/Emerald intersection; shiny pole at Broadway Avenue and Iowa Street; traffic detection cameras not fooled by parking lot exiting at Ustick Road near Eagle Road

The Road Wizard Replies

Dear Road Wizard: The intersection of Americana Boulevard, Latah and Emerald streets turned out better than I expected. The one thing I'm concerned about is the flashing yellow arrow for the one lane turning left onto Latah from Americana. Emerald curves just enough on the other side of the intersection to make it difficult to see if traffic is coming. At certain times of the day, the trees in Morris Hill Cemetery that line Emerald cast shadows, making it difficult to see vehicles heading east. The cars in the right-hand lane of Americana heading west onto Emerald block the view of the eastbound lane of Emerald for the cars with the flashing left-turn arrow. The intersection deserves a second look. I always enjoy reading your column.

Patricia

Road Wizard:

Have you ever considered a second career as a traffic engineer, Patricia? An ACHD engineer noticed the same concerning issues about the flashing yellow arrow signal.

Emerald and Americana was reconfigured to have continuous bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of Emerald. It was thought that a flashing yellow arrow signal would be a cherry on top of the other improvements.

But the Americana/Latah/Emerald intersection is "Y" shaped. It's possible that a large or especially tall vehicle heading westbound may block the view of eastbound traffic for drivers wishing to make a left turn onto Latah. And yes, even a vehicle traveling alongside the flashing yellow arrow left-turn lane could end up affecting the view of oncoming traffic. There is enough of a sight distance concern that ACHD eliminated the yellow arrow.

Dear Road Wizard: A new HAWK signal was recently installed at the intersection of Broadway Avenue and Iowa Street. Also installed nearby was a shiny metal pole. It's a bit taller than waist height and is wrapped with bright yellow reflective tape. I have now noticed a few similar ones on Federal Way and Fairview Avenue. I'm curious what these things are for.

Chris

Road Wizard:

An ACHD employee went searching for the pole, but it was nowhere to be found. It could be that the pole with the tape was what eventually became a push button pole for the crosswalk. It's bright yellow to make it more visible at night.

Dear Road Wizard: Driving west on Ustick Road, the block between Records Avenue and Eagle Road can take up to 20 minutes during evening rush hour. The cause might be a short signal for westbound traffic on Ustick caused by the courteous drivers who let drivers exit from the western-most Lowe's parking lot driveway near the intersection. I think it causes enough of a break in the westbound traffic that the signal "reads it" that all westbound traffic has completed and to allow north-south traffic on Eagle once again.

Bonnie

Road Wizard:

Remember, Eagle and Ustick is one of the busiest intersections in the state, and some five-thousand drivers are coming through during the peak traffic hour. More than two-thirds of those vehicles are on Eagle, so Ustick is the "minor" street, even though it's otherwise considered to be a major street. That's why westbound Ustick gets relatively short green lights - it has very little to do with the Lowe's parking lot.

Even if the parking lot exiting was the primary source of the problem, traffic detection cameras aren't fooled by breaks in traffic from parking lots.

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