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The Watchdog | Please turn left, but not quite yet

The problem

“A waste of gas.”

That’s how Marlene Shulkin describes the left-turn-only arrows at Metcalf Avenue for westbound drivers on the newly widened 127th Street.

“There is minimal traffic coming from the west on 127th,” the Overland Park resident said. “If anything, there should be left-turn signals on 127th and Nall going east and west. Traffic, especially from the east, is heavy during rush hours.”

The answer

Overland Park installed a dual turning lane based on the current number of turners, plus long-term needs generated by property that’s likely to develop to the west.

“Since we have two left-turn lanes for westbound, we cannot allow the left-turning traffic to ... turn if nobody is coming eastbound,” said city traffic engineer Brian Shields..

At Nall, he said, east-west traffic has not met the criteria for a left-turn phase — factors like speed limits, traffic patterns, delays and the number of left-turn crashes. But the city re-evaluates those conditions periodically and will work with adjacent Leawood if changes are necessary.

As for the waiting time at Metcalf, Shields said the westbound left-turners get their green arrow at the beginning of the cycle, which shortens the wait for those arriving when the light is red. The long waits would occur only when the turners arrive early in the green cycle for traffic continuing west on 127th.

The Watchdog says the biggest waste of gas, ever, is what passes for political dialogue in Washington.

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