Saturday, May 01, 2010

Left Turning

No, I'm not thinking about politics, but rather Monona Drive. A commenter alerted me to the fact the northbound left-turn signals was not operating. City engineer Rich Vela provided an explanation (the left-turn signals are activated by sensors in the roadway and since traffic has been shifted over, the sensors are not being activated.

A question for you, gentle readers, is the lack of a left turn signal at that intersection causing traffic problems? Backups? Diversions to other routes? Reckless driving? All of those?

I don't get out there during the week day too often, so please chime in. Feedback wanted.


  1. I asked the question originally and I think it is a problem. There is a lot of traffic coming south on Monona Drive and now it all funnels into one lane. As a result, there isn't much of a break in traffic, especially during peak periods, to make the left turn onto Nichols. i've been taking advantage of the functioning left turn light at Monona Drive and Frostwoods and taking the more indirect route to my house (which is north of Nichols Rd).

  2. I think our right-leaning council has banned any turns to the left.

  3. I do not understand why this needs to be asked on a blog. Any answers you get here are anecdotal. There are solid, known, engineering methods of figuring this out. There are standards. We have a city engineer. Is it not his job to figure out if this is truly a problem? Why on earth would he be aware that a left turn signal for a major thoroughfare has been de-activated and he hasn't jumped in to see if it is an issue? Or has he? I understand there are other governmental units at play here, but as our engineer does he not have the influence to bring something like this forward?

  4. Q:"I do not understand why this needs to be asked on a blog. Any answers you get here are anecdotal. There are solid, known, engineering methods of figuring this out. There are standards. We have a city engineer. Is it not his job to figure out if this is truly a problem?"

    I wasn't clear enough in my question. Because I am not on Monona Drive during the daytime on weekdays, I wanted to know if people had experienced delays or other negative results from the lack of a left-turn arrow. I was asking for factual observations not opinions.

    The need for the left-turn arrow was determined a number of years ago. The question now is whether we can live with the absence of the left-turn phase during construction. And that's what I was asking.

    Could the city engineer be more proactive? Yes. That being said, Strand is the project engineer and has an engineer on site full-time. I've asked them both to look into a solution. My understanding is that there are two solutions: 1. Activate the LT signal during every traffic cycle or 2. Install temporary detetecion.

  5. Right. But I still do not understand why we are relying on a council member in this circumstance. We have staff that should be concerned and on top of it.

  6. I've had a liitle bit of a delay at the Nichols/Monona Drive intersection (turning left northward on Monona Drive) about 5:00 or so. During the day it seems to be fine.
    What happens is traffic going West from Pflaum onto Nichols stops left turns from Nichols. There isn't room for those turning right (south onto Monona Drive) or going straight to get around the left car.

  7. I spoke with the project engineer today and he had already contacted the city of Madison (which mainatins the signals) about having the LT signal operating.

  8. They should install a Econolite Video Detection system and camera like the temporary one they have installed at Monona Drive and Broadway. The camera is mounted on the overhead light pole on the Anchor Bank corner. The Camera is pointed at traffic traveling south bound on Monona Drive. The camera's picture is feed thru a special video detection system into the traffic signal technicians laptop computer. The technician is then able to draw a virtual detection loop or mulitple loops on their laptop screen. This system is able to control several lanes of traffic. The virtual detection loops are then saved in the Video Detection systems controller. When a vehicle enters the virtual detection loop, a call is sent to the traffic signal controller to call for a left turn signal.

    These systems are used to install detection loops in areas where the traffic volume to high shut lanes down to saw inductive loop wires into the pavement. They are also used as temporary detectors during road construction or for traffic counting.

    They cost around $15000 to $25000 plus installation cost per site depending upon what detection is needed.

  9. At the Nichols intersection the problem isn't the sensor, it is a lack of a left turn space. Once one car, who needs to turn left, is at the front of the line, the cars who would go straight or turn south can't move.

    Again, to me this seems to be a problem near the end of the work day, but not the rest of the time. Perhaps changing the lights so the East and West sides get green lights at differnt times would be better then a turn arrow.