Forum looks at eliminating left turns at major intersections

Posted September 11, 2008

— State transportation leaders met Thursday afternoon to discuss an idea that would eliminating left turns at busy intersections in an effort to reduce traffic congestion.

Instead, motorists would turn left at what is called "quadrant roadways" – that is, at a traffic light a block before or after the major intersection.

The idea is already in place in Greensboro and has saved more than 2 million hours of delay since the 1970s – about 150 hours a day – according to the Regional Transportation Alliance, which is sponsoring a forum on the matter – "Turning Left the 'Right' Way" – Thursday afternoon.

Engineers with the state Department of Transportation, North Carolina State University and City of Greensboro were among those in attendance Thursday, as well as local and state transportation officials and members of the business community.


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  • Bendal1 Sep 11, 2008

    No, the separate left turns wouldn't necessarily back up; that's why I said they aren't a cure-all and need to be used where they'll be effective. You make the left turn lane long enough and provide an accel lane on the other side so traffic can safely merge back in. Ideally the left turn is a quarter mile or so away from the intersection so there's room to merge and move over to turn where you wanted to in the first place.

    If there's a lot of traffic, too many driveways, etc, then they may not be ideal for that route.

  • canes7 Sep 11, 2008

    I'd like to see no left turns, except where there is a left turn lane, on Wade Ave. during commute times. I've seen quite a few people come over a hill and/or around a corner to see a car stopped waiting to turn left. I'm sure there's been more than one rear-end accident caused by this.

  • missdawg Sep 11, 2008

    Doesn't that just make the other "left turn" places back up?

    I would certainly think so. I think it would make things even worse because the majority of people would be making U-turns to get back to where they wanted to go, which would slow down the cars going through the light. Less cars making it through a light cycle means even more congestion.

  • HemiTodd Sep 11, 2008

    Please don't mention roundabouts! They are a complete disaster during morning and evening commutes.

  • jkylander Sep 11, 2008

    Oh goodness, jughandles! We went to Jersey about 9 years ago and couldn't figure out how the heck to make a left-turn. We ended up making several "illegal" ones. The super street in Chapel Hill is MUCH better. Heck,even a roundabout is better!

  • SubwayScoundrel Sep 11, 2008

    NJ Jughandles. I am sure for people who live in the area for a while it helps, but if you are new or visiting, if you think the outer/inner arguement was bad, this will blow the doors off. I have been in NJ and can see the hotel as I drive past it and can not get to it and it you can never find the way to turn around.

    Once you learn it, it is Ok but talk about more lost people on the roads doing stupid stuff to get ot the other side........there will be more of that.

    But maybe it will help so I am openminded

  • Bendal1 Sep 11, 2008

    This is part of the design of the "superstreet" that was done on US 15/501 between Durham and Chapel Hill. By separating the left turns from the other turning movements at an intersection, the traffic signal has more time for everyone else and the overall safety is increased.

    Basically, you go through the intersection you want to turn at, turn left further down, and then return to where you wanted to turn in the first place. It doesn't work everywhere, but with the right conditions it's very effective.

  • anneonymousone Sep 11, 2008

    What are the environmental benefits and costs likely to be? Fewer vehicles waiting to make a turn means less wasted fuel and less pollution, but how does it stack up against the fuel used by DOT vehicles and other resources build the roads?

  • fl2nc2ca2md2nc Sep 11, 2008

    Interesting idea...

  • Z Man Sep 11, 2008

    I read this morning that the DOT is eliminating 1,700 positions. Why talk about it when there's going to be no-one to design and implement it?