The main reason is safety, according to a memo from Coke Gray, Cape Fear regional traffic engineer with the N.C. Department of Transportation.
Gray writes that he has reviewed the signals along U.S. 17 in Leland and evaluated whether they should be changed from “fully protected signals” to flashing yellow arrows.
Gray said he didn’t recommend using flashing yellow lights at any of the U-turn locations along that stretch of road.
“I’m trying to keep people safe,” Gray said in an interview.
First, he noted in the memo, when two lanes of traffic are making U-turns, “sight distance is restricted” for cars in the inside lane by cars in the outside lane. Also, at several of the locations, cars make U-turns in both directions adjacent to each other. Cars making U-turns to go south may block the vision of cars going north and vice versa. That reason, he said, is most relevant at the busier intersections, where there are often cars in both U-turn lanes.
And even at intersections that aren’t as busy, Gray’s memo said he doesn’t recommend using the yellow flashing areas for different reasons.
At the intersection near Brunswick Forest, he wrote that the development “appears to be developing at a fast enough pace” that he doesn’t recommend flashing yellows.
At the southernmost U-turn location, sight distance is restricted by the hill in the road caused by the railroad bridge south of the signal, Gray wrote in his memo.
And at the northernmost U-turn for northbound motorists who want to go south, although “sight distance is great,” Gray said he doesn’t recommend a flashing yellow arrow “because I believe this corridor should stay consistent in the full protection of left turns and U-turns.”
“This will continue to keep this section of US 17 safe for the public traveling through Brunswick County and the ones living here,” Gray wrote in his memo.
In concluding, Gray wrote: “On a side note, just because we are used to the Superstreet, many drivers are not. On multiple occasions in Brunswick County I have watched and corrected drivers driving the wrong way in the u-turn lanes. I am pretty sure if I have seen it several times it has happened many more times.”
Date posted: September 17, 2012
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