New Walnut Street Interchange Confounds Drivers

Posted November 28, 2006 9:44 a.m. EST
Updated November 28, 2006 11:06 a.m. EST

— Rather than easing drivers through a frequently congested intersection, a new traffic pattern at U.S. Highway 1/64 and Walnut Street is confounding most motorists.

Drivers exiting off U.S. 1/64 used to be able to come to the Walnut Street intersection and had the choice of turning either direction on Walnut or heading right to Buck Jones Road or left to the Crossroads shopping center.

Now, people wanting to get to Walnut Street have to go under the overpass and loop back up to the street. Meanwhile, shoppers headed to Crossroads or Buck Jones Road split right and left off the old exits.

Curbs and orange traffic barrels block traditional traffic patterns, and many motorists are driving right up to a group of barrels in the middle of the street before hesitating and finally veering off to Crossroads or Buck Jones Road.

"I live right off Walnut Street," driver Dawnyette Taylor said. "Usually, when I come out, I have to do U-turns and go all the way around the block to get back home. It's really a pain."

"We get at least a dozen cars a day coming through here asking which way goes which -- the lanes aren't properly marked. There are fender-benders out here on a regular basis. It's really caused havoc around here," said Brian Kazura of Crossroads Exxon, which has become a haven for confused drivers in recent days.

Flashing message boards direct people through the new traffic pattern -- the intersection was reworked as part of the U.S. 1/64 widening project in the area that was completed last week -- and state Department of Transportation officials said people aren't paying attention to the directions.

DOT officials said the new design will improve traffic flow and make the interchange safer.

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