When a traffic lane suddenly morphs into a turn-only lane, it bothers more than the poor soul who is caught unaware. Nearby drivers feel the effects, too.
Andy Cooper can give you the play-by-play on westbound 135th Street in Johnson County, which narrows from three lanes to two at Switzer Road, cramming drivers in the far right lane to turn right onto Switzer.
When the light is red during rush hour, Cooper says, the surprised drivers stop because they can’t merge into the crowded lane to the left. Instead, they’ll wait for the light to change and try to slip into a gap as the cars begin to move. Meanwhile, drivers whodo
want to turn right are blocked by the stopped cars.
Never mind the inherent risk of quick lane changes.
Cooper, who lives in Overland Park, thinks the warning sign is too close to the intersection to be useful for many drivers. He’d like at least one sign farther east.The answer
The city of Overland Park is grateful for your input, Andy.
For an hour recently, city traffic engineer Brian Shields watched the westbound traffic by camera and saw a fair number of vehicles trying to move to the middle lane while in the right turn lane or close to it.
“Sometimes the traffic was heavy enough that the vehicle in the right turn lane would pause and then just move on and make the right turn,” Shields said. “Other times they were able to find a short gap ... and move over.”
In any case, he said, enough people were making these last-minute maneuvers to warrant some changes.
The city decided to alter the pavement markings and add another sign farther east, warning that drivers in far right lane must turn right at Switzer.
The Watchdog asks: Which would you prefer? The job you have now, or watching traffic for an hour?