Double the lanes, double the issues

05/02/2014 8:54 PM

05/02/2014 8:55 PM

The problem

Steve Nicholson said his wife works east of Antioch Road near Interstate 435 in Overland Park and drives home to Lee’s Summit in the evening.

She has told him that she may wait through two or three light changes before she can turn right and head north on Antioch from 108th Terrace. He thinks he has an idea to help her and others approaching Antioch from the east.

“Most will want to turn right at Antioch to get on I-435. Only one or two cars get in the left lane to go straight or turn left,” Nicholson said. “Antioch has three lanes at this point, and right turns could easily be made from the left lane of 108thTerrace.”

Better yet: North of 108th Terrace, move Antioch’s curb a bit east so those turning right onto Antioch would have a “clear” lane going toward I-435.

The answer

At first blush, Nicholson’s suggestion for two right-turn lanes made sense to Brian Shields, Overland Park’s city traffic engineer.

But then he spent a fascinating hour watching traffic between 4:30 and 5:30 one afternoon. He counted 353 vehicles that turned right from 108th Terrace to go north on Antioch. Thirty percent then turned east onto I-435, and 47 percent turned west onto 435. The rest continued north.

And that’s the rub. With nearly half the vehicles wanting to go west on I-435, Shields can imagine people in the far right lane scooting over too quickly and sideswiping other right-turners on their left.

When he watched, the traffic on 108thTerrace always cleared in one signal cycle.

Shields also said that moving the curb to create an extra northbound lane wouldn’t do much good and could create confusion.

Because the traffic is heavy on northbound Antioch and coming out of Corporate Woods to the west, westbound drivers on 108th Terrace can’t often turn right on red in any case.

Moreover, the current layout safely guides those other drivers through the intersection before they can start changing lanes. Opening another northbound lane too soon increases the chance they will get into the wrong lane or hit someone.

The Watchdog says he has trouble with sideswiping vehicles in his own driveway when he backs out. Do body shops give group discounts?

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