The Watchdog

During rush hour, left green arrow at 11th and Oak goes away

The problem

Put yourself in Doris Petersen’s shoes. Or rather, her driver’s seat.

It’s the morning rush hour, around 7:30. You’re driving to work downtown, heading north on Oak Street, wanting to turn left onto 11th Street.

There’s a left-turn arrow. But during rush hour, the arrow never turns green, Petersen writes. So northbound motorists have to wait for southbound vehicles to clear the intersection. And by the time they do, often the light has turned red.

“I often wait through two lights, IF the cars ahead of me know to turn once the light turns red. If they are not aggressive and do not turn, the wait can be three lights or longer.”

On weekends, she says, drivers turning left off Oak do get a green arrow. “But during the weekday mornings, the arrow never shows green — it switches from yellow arrow to red arrow.”

The solution

The best bet for Petersen may be to pick another route to get to work.

“This intersection has a lot going on during morning and evening rush hour,” said Sean Demory, spokesman for the Kansas City Public Works Department.

The city disables the left-turn arrow during those peak traffic periods “to accommodate an exclusive pedestrian phase.”

“Taking away the protected left turn allows pedestrians to cross safely during peak traffic while ensuring access for commuters,” he said.

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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