The Watchdog

Holdup at I-35 interchange robs motorists of time

The problem

Good doggies always follow the command of their master, and that’s what Liberty resident Jan Wrolstad does near the new, wider bridge where Missouri 291 meets Interstate 35 in the Northland.

“Stay!” the Missouri Department of Transportation commands. “And stay some more.”

The holdup, Wrolstad says, occurs when she crosses the Missouri 291 bridge from east to west and gets into the left-turn lane for southbound I-35 toward downtown Kansas City. Turns are possible only when the green arrow lights up.

“This sometimes backs up morning traffic all the way back to the previous light at the east end of the bridge, at times causing a nearly blocked intersection there,” she said.

Before construction, motorists could turn left on a solid green light if oncoming traffic had cleared. She wonders whether MoDOT can allow those discretionary turns again.

The answer

No growling now, but MoDOT says the answer is no.

Senior traffic studies specialist Erin Ralovo said the southbound Missouri 291 previously had two through lanes and a right-turn lane at the ramp to southbound I-35. After the construction project, the intersection was widened to four southbound “through lanes” and a right-turn lane.

And, Ralovo said, MoDOT policies don’t allow permissive left turns when more than three opposing lanes of traffic are coming at you.

However, MoDOT’s traffic staff promises to look at the signal timing to see if adjustments could improve safety and traffic flow.

Now the Watchdog will do a trick of his own, at least for now: roll over. But he’ll be interested to know from Wrolstad and others if they notice a positive change in signal timing.

Do you have a problem or a question about a public issue? Write to the Watchdog, The Kansas City Star, Newsroom, 1729 Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64108, or send email to watchdog@kcstar.com. Include your name, phone number and city of residence.

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