New questions about revised 11th & Warren

The in basket: As I drove down 11th Street eastbound toward Warren Avenue the other day, I noticed a boxed area created by yellow stripes across Warren, westbound, where a left turn pocket would be. Left turns have been prohibited there for as long as I can remember.

I wondered if they will be allowed when the new widened intersection is fully opened.

As my wife and I sat at the eastbound red light, we discussed the four signal heads controlling the three lanes, two lanes for for left turns and the other two for straight ahead movements in the one lane dedicated to that, historically.

I recently wrote in this column that the extra signal head complies with federal regulations that the main movement at a signalized intersection have two signals for redundancy if one burns out or is blocked by a large vehicle.

But when the lights turned green that day, one of the two in the center showed an arrow to the left and the other an arrow pointing straight ahead. It seemed like a likely source of confusion for a newcomer to the intersection as to what is permitted from the inner left turn lane.

The out basket: First, says Gunnar Fridriksson of the city traffic engineers, no left turn is being created on westbound 11th to go south on Warren.

The striped box “was just an attempt to outline the hatched area that was here


The only change in permitted movement at the completed intersection will be that only the outside southbound lane on Warren will allow right turns. Previously, both outside southbound lanes allowed right turns, though I hardly ever saw anyone use the innermost of those lanes for a right turn.

Gunnar said I am not the first to ask about possible confusion about the four signal heads, and even sent along an inquiry about it from Bruce Hall, originally sent to his city councilman, Greg Wheeler.

Gunnar’s answer is as I had described, “The federal guidance we are required to follow for designing a signal

system has the through lane (single eastbound traffic on 11th Street)

with two sets of lights, and a single set of lights for the two turn

lanes.  So there are four sets of lights for the three lanes.”

It’s a puzzling issue to arise now, Gunnar said, since the same four-signal display for three lanes was there before the intersection was redone, but hanging from wires instead of the new metal poles and cross arms.

One thought on “New questions about revised 11th & Warren

  1. You should ask Mr. Fridriksson why it takes so long for the lights to cycle at this intersection, now that the work is done. Aren’t there traffic detectors on the light poles now? I commute through this intersection daily during the week, eastbound. It seems that the lights for north-south traffic stay green, even when there’s no traffic. Just last Monday, at about 6am, I timed the lights as staying green for 30 seconds without a single car going through the intersection, either north or southbound. It used to be that the lights would change much quicker when no traffic was detected.

    I’ve also learned that if I don’t catch the left turn onto northbound Warren, but the light is still green to go straight, it is much faster for me to go through the light and turn on Park (even if I have to wait for the turn signal there, as the lights cycle faster) and then back to Warren at 17th, than it is to wait for the lights to cycle back to a green left turn.

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